...what you actually lost was your innocence. Letting yourself grieve that loss is the only way to get to the other side of the trauma... Grief happens in spasms. It's like giving birth: You're giving birth to a new self. At the height of labor, you'll have 90 seconds of agony followed by 30 seconds of relief. Interestingly they call that period transition. That's what you're going through...
~Martha Beck, from May 2019 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine
When I first read mention of betrayal as trauma, I was surprised, even as it rang true for me. Trauma felt so dramatic. What I was experiencing, I thought, was a story as old as time. A philanderer for a husband. Weren't women supposed to either kick him out, if they were renegades, or suck it up, if they were doormats? I had put myself in that latter category. Though not so much pathetic as exhausted. Too exhausted to make a choice. And, I was beginning to allow myself to believe, too traumatized.
Seeing betrayal through the lens of trauma helped me make sense of so much of what I was experiencing. It explained why I had to fight the desire, biking along city streets, to turn my wheel into traffic. It explained the heart-pounding terror when my husband was even five minutes later than I expected him home. It explained the hands shaking, the vision blurring, all these extreme physical symptoms of...what exactly? Why was this pain so visceral? Trauma. That's why. Trauma
Reframing my betrayal as trauma also gave me something else. Permission to be gentle with myself. An understanding that I hadn't asked for any of this, that I didn't deserve this pain. I was experiencing trauma, I would remind myself, when I couldn't muster the strength to go the grocery store. I was grappling with trauma, I told myself, when I finally caved to my therapist's urging to try anti-anxiety medication.
And within that understanding, I could begin to grieve, which, as Martha Beck points out, is the only way to the other side of trauma.
I wish I could tell you there is a shortcut. But the only shortcut I know is to walk through the fire. Trying to go around it just prolongs the pain or pushes it underground. The only way out is through.
Martha Beck is right. You are giving birth. To a new you. To a new reality. And birth is a painful beautiful process. Brutiful, as Glennon Doyle calls it. The brutal transforms the beautiful, she says, and the beautiful transforms the brutal.
A whole lot of us feel stuck in the brutal right now. The beautiful shimmers like a mirage. We don't trust it to be real, whether in the past or the future.
But on the other side of grief, beyond the trauma, the beautiful exists. Not exclusively, of course. The rest of your life will never be all good, or all bad, all beautiful, or all brutal. It will, like any life, be a mix. But beauty will be a part of it. Not in spite of what you've gone through but because of it.
- Feeling Stuck, Page 22 (PAGE FULL)
- Sex and intimacy after betrayal
- Share Your Story: Finding Out, Part 5 (4 is full!!...
- Finding Out, Part 5 (Please post here. Part 4 is f...
- Stupid S#*t Cheaters Say
- Separating/Divorcing Page 9
- Finding Out, Part 6
- Books for the Betrayed
- Separating and Divorcing, Page 10
- Feeling Stuck, Part 23
- MORE Stupid S#*t Cheaters Say
- Share Your Story Part 6 (Part 5 is full)
- Sex & Intimacy After Betrayal Part 2 (Part 1 is full)
- Share Your Story