Learning to Trust After Betrayal
A man finds out his business partner has been using the company’s profits to fund a gambling addiction.
A woman learns that her sister has hidden assets from their parents’ estate.
A husband discovers his wife has been having an affair with his friend.
Whether it’s by a sibling, colleague, spouse or other close individual, betrayal slices through us like nothing else. It shatters close bonds, destroys self-esteem and breeds insecurity. It’s almost guaranteed to cause pain, heartache, shock and fury.
But it is possible to mend the wounds of betrayal. It’s possible to conquer rage and regain dignity. Most of all, it’s possible to trust again.
To get through betrayal, it’s helpful to have a roadmap—a plan, if you will—for what to expect and what you might want to consider. Here are some ideas, followed by a list of books that can help with the process.
Get support. Sharing your feelings helps to release the pain. Make a clear-eyed choice here. Will you be best served by support from your family, friends, therapist or a supportive group?
Consider when/if/how to confront. Thinking this through in advance and acting with intention can positively affect the entire healing process. Also consider how or whether to talk to children about what has happened.
Weigh your options. You could seek revenge, hold on to outrage and resentment, forget about the transgression or forgive. The choice is yours. What do each of these options hold for you?
Examine why the person betrayed you and what makes you vulnerable to betrayal. Confronting the reasons behind betrayal requires a commitment to self-examination and mutual examination of the relationship itself. Doing so, while difficult, can create a stronger relationship than existed before the betrayal.
Rebuild your self-image. The long journey back to trust includes reconciliation with yourself, as well, so that you can learn to trust yourself again. Start by banishing self-blame; change the negative statements about yourself to self-loving statements. For example: “I am whole. I am a devoted friend/spouse/sibling. I am loved from the inside out.” Try writing lists of your positive qualities to keep perspective.
Trust is the cornerstone of all relationships. Moving past the trauma of broken trust can mean moving into a new realm of intimacy with ourselves and with others.
Some Helpful Books
How Could You Do This to Me?: Learning to Trust After Betrayal, by Jane Greer and Margery D. Rose
Not “Just Friends”: Rebuilding Trust and Recovering Your Sanity, by Shirley P. Glass
Back from Betrayal: Saving a Marriage, a Family, a Life, by Suzy Farbman
After the Affair: Overcoming the Pain and Rebuilding Trust, by Janis Abrahms Spring and Michael Spring
Betrayed!: How You Can Restore Sexual Trust and Rebuild Your Life, by Riki Robbins
Author’s content used under license, © 2008 Claire Communications