Last week we looked at one of the two key questions that betrayed partners who have entered the devastation phase are asking, “What is happening to me?”
This week, we are going to focus on the second question that is at the center of devastation: “What do I do?” A key ingredient to managing the devastation phase is receiving useful and empathetic direction about how to deal with your new reality.
Recently, I asked a group of betrayed partners who have survived the devastation phase and progressed in their healing journey to phases 5 and 6, the creating and flourishing phases, what their best advice would be to partners currently experiencing devastation. It was amazing how similar their lists were when I gathered and compared the data.
Here are the top ten pieces of advice these partners gave for surviving and moving through the devastation phase toward healing:
- Give yourself space and permission to cry, feel your feelings, and mourn the loss of the relationship you thought you had. Let yourself be exactly where you are in the moment, even if that feels uncomfortable.
- Set realistic expectations for yourself. You won’t be able to function at your previous level for a while and that is okay.
- Get expert help and support from a professional who is trained to deal with infidelity, sexual addiction, and betrayal trauma.
- Reach out for support from trusted and safe friends, family members, clergy members, 12-Step groups, support groups, etc.
- Educate yourself about betrayal trauma, infidelity, sexual addiction, etc.
- Give yourself permission to not make any decisions about your relationship for a while. You don’t need to know whether you will stay or leave right now.
- Be real with God or your Higher Power. If you are angry and feel betrayed by your Higher Power, go ahead and rant it out. If your Higher Power is a source of support and trust, then lean in.
- Breathe, sleep, eat, rest, repeat. Basic self-care is your top priority.
- Be kind and patient with yourself. You are in the middle of an intense relational trauma, and you are not going to handle it perfectly. Offer yourself grace.
- Recognize that healing from betrayal trauma is a process, and it won’t happen overnight. At the same time, don’t limit your expectations for recovery, as you might miss out on some of the hidden gifts that are part of healing.
Next week we are going to look at phase two, the realization phase, of the Authentic Hope Process for healing from betrayal trauma.