I have been asked to post here an old article (2005) I wrote for “Meridian Magazine” (ldsmag.com) on recovering from betrayal. I will share this link on my author Facebook page and in my author newsletter this month. I’m placing the entire article here.
Six Top Steps for Recovering from Betrayal
As an author, I’ve had the opportunity to be a presenter at numerous public conferences and stake and ward Relief Society meetings. My subjects, though important, have never been as necessary to sustaining the joys in life as what I often speak on today.
It seems everyone experiences some tragedy in life, some trial or test. After all, that’s what we’re here for. And proving our character by the choices we make in responding to those trials is what forms the basis of God’s just rewards.
Being betrayed is part and parcel to many, if not most, trials—betrayed by spouse, business partner, friend, neighbor . . . How do you recover? Heavy subject . . . and one that has derailed many of life’s travelers! Yet the outcome for some individuals is positive. Over time, they seem stronger, more resilient, confident in themselves and in their relationship with Heavenly Father. What makes the difference?
In preparing the draft for Shattered: Six Steps from Betrayal to Recovery, my co-author, Bettyanne Bruin, and I encountered a number of victims who were willing to tell their stories of healthy recovery. The threads consistently woven through their stories were:
• A continued hope, faith, and reliance on the power of God
• Coupled with the willingness to face their realities,
• Pick themselves up, seeking solutions,
• And work with integrity to do their part.
Here are six powerful steps to recover from tragedy:
One cannot change the circumstances surrounding betrayal until one has recognized a betrayal has taken place. This may sound like an obvious scenario, but in the case of betrayal, the secrets surrounding this form of abuse are sometimes difficult to see; betrayal is often a “silent crime.” Frequently the victim does not know he or she has been victimized, whether it is through an affair, leading a double life, and/or secrets of financial indiscretions, until long after the victimization has taken place. Awareness must be the first step to betrayal recovery.
Grief is the result following any type of loss, especially the loss of heartfelt expectations destroyed by betrayal. It is a natural part of an emotionally healthy recovery process. Shock, denial, anger, guilt, bargaining, and sadness are companions to grief. When the process is followed to its completion, acknowledgement and acceptance of one’s reality can be comforting results. Finding ways to successfully manage fear and positively channel anger brings about the yearned-for, pain-free hope that is necessary and must be the second step for a full recovery.
Once betrayal is recognized and accepted, action must take place, whether this action is choosing to continue or end the relationship with the betrayer. One must act, not just react, by setting reasonable limits, safely confronting the issues, and taking the risk to make life better.
Authorization, or permission to move forward with one’s life, is a vital step in the recovery process. One of the most common yet innocent characteristics of a victim of betrayal is his or her “willingness to submit,” “to be the nice guy,” or to give the betrayer “permission” to abuse. Authorizing the victim to take control of his or her life by establishing the proper support system and learning to trust him- or herself is a vital step in breaking away from the betrayer and healing the heartbreak associated with betrayal.
In fairness, the victim must hold him- or herself accountable for the part played in the betrayal, and give proper ownership to the betrayer, as well, for his or her part in the abuse. Taking the obsessive searchlight off the other person and focusing on one’s self empowers change. There is a time when one must quit being the victim governed by fear, and make a plan for what is and is not acceptable—never again compromising on those important issues. One can visualize beyond the past and look with hope into the possibilities of the future by forgiving the betrayer and making one’s self a product of one’s decisions instead of one’s conditions.
An old Chinese proverb states, “Be not afraid of growing slowly, be afraid only of standing still.” Advancement may be considered the last strategy or step of recovery, but it is also the first step in the rest of one’s life. Visualizing life with a set of fresh goals and a belief in one’s self creates confidence and courage. Healing occurs as one reaches out to serve and help others in need. To advance forward one accomplishes his or her goals one step at a time while maintaining a proper balance in life.
Recently I spoke at a two-day writers’ workshop. The morning of the second day, a participant approached me, telling me how much she appreciated my comments in one of my sessions the previous day. I spoke about writing and using an object to make an impression. The writing discussed was the book Shattered. The object was a kaleidoscope. I told my audience that when one experiences betrayal, he or she feels shattered, like broken glass fragments harshly thrown and scattered on a hard floor—never to be the same. But as the pieces are gathered, and recovery and healing occur, there is new beauty in the pattern and shape of the individual’s life, much as the colorful, magnificent designs made in a kaleidoscope.
The writer said she was inspired by the poetic visual of the kaleidoscope. So much so, that she stayed up during the night composing a poem. I was impressed with her insight as she explained why she chose certain phrases. She said, “Fear and anger are part of the grieving process, and it is while going through the motions that we begin to find scattered remnants [of ourselves]. ‘Butter the toast’ [signifies] taking care of own needs—physical, spiritual, and emotional. ‘Take out the trash’ [represents] discarding what is unuseful or unhealthy. ‘Turning, testing’ [is like] rotating the kaleidoscope, but also going in new directions, trying better ways of doing things, such as relating to others.”
© by Sharon Price Anderson
I am shattered,
abused, and bruised.
Broken fragments of me
litter the landscape.
Dazed, I wander
where I have been.
to staunch the bleeding,
stop the tears,
heal the hurt,
I sift through fear and
anger of surreal days.
I go through the motions—
butter the toast,
take out the trash.
I find scattered remnants
of who I am
and gather particles of
finally, I have
form dazzling patterns,
prisms in the sun.
Turning, testing, I
new and beautiful—
I am whole.
Inspired by Shattered: Six Steps from Betrayal to Recovery—the book and the object lesson of the kaleidoscope. Permission for use granted to the authors of Shattered by Sharon Anderson.