Today's post is from community member, Anna, in California. Anna wrote me this week to tell me about a resource she found extremely helpful in healing for her betrayal PTSD. Since this was a new resource to me I invited her to share her story and tell us about it.
It will be five years this May since disclosure. Three weeks after disclosure he was seeing a CSAT, I was attending COSA and we were slowing building our recovery community. In the early days I attended two-three recovery meetings a week. One was the COSA group I mentioned and the other two were either a wives' group, put together by the CSAT therapist, or a focused study group going through Pia Mellody's Breaking Free workbook.
I worked very hard and was extremely dedicated to healing, yet for many years it eluded me. I truly believe that God was leading my recovery and still is, and that all these chapters and resources have been used for my growth and for my good. But for many years I suffered with terrible trauma symptoms and painful triggers. Memories would flood me, the mention of certain names or places would cause deep pain, I avoided many things in order to not get triggered and my life felt more and more like a cage: a cage I did not want to be in, but couldn't break free from.
I went to EMDR therapy as I heard this was helpful for PTSD. I learned as much as I could about trauma and knew that my response was normal and not "codependent." (As an aside, I believe my recovery has been two fold: recovering from the trauma of intimate betrayal in my marriage and also recovering from the markers of dysfunction and an insecure attachment from my family of origin.)
Seven months ago, I felt I had hit a wall. I couldn't handle it all anymore. It was too painful for too long and I was truly discouraged. I had tried so hard and worked so diligently. But then the Lord led me to a resource that was shared from another person recovering from intimate betrayal. My husband and I had done some of the other studies by Steven Stosny, but I felt drawn to his Living and Loving After Betrayal course. So, I sat down and dedicated myself to going through and making a daily practice of the activities he suggested. I have to say that I felt very validated in my trauma responses by him and also encouraged to move towards a state of empowerment.
In my opinion, it was the daily practice on healing painful memories, though extremely challenging, that began to release me from the cage of pain I had been imprisoned in. And as I prayed for God to bless the people who have hurt, and bring up fear, in me, I began to see a shift in the way I responded emotionally to them. This was challenging, because I didn't want to pray for them!
What I have noticed is that as the triggers that before would cause dis-integration in my brain became wired to thoughts and ideas in my prefrontal cortex I am able to access my whole brain more. Even in the face of triggers that before would cause me to go into a limbic state. It feels so good to be able to access that "reasonable" part of myself and not be carried away by powerful trauma responses. I've noticed that things still "bother" me, things that before would have unglued me, I still notice I don't like... But I'm okay. I can't tell you what a relief that is. I feel like I have my life back. For the first time in years, I am starting to feel beautiful and I am able to separate my husband's behaviors from having anything to do with me and my attractiveness or 'good enough-ness.'
As if this weren't enough, I also notice that as the trauma response has subsided, I am able to extend more grace to my husband. Not permission to sin by any means! I have very firm boundaries. But I've noticed that I have been able to allow him to be a human, when before his humanity triggered too much pain to be compassionate towards him and his healing journey.
Now, I can't tell you if this will work for you, but I can tell you it worked for me and that it was worth the effort I put into it. I didn't see the result right away, but as I worked on it little by little each day, things slowly began to shift. If you resonate with my story, I hope your higher power will lead you to healing too, sister.
Also, please join me in thanking Lisa for her dedicated work in connecting is with one another and a broad library of healing resources. Thank you, Lisa!
In just a quick look through the material, I notice that Living and Loving After Betrayal is not specifically a Christian resource. However, when we bring God into our trauma work (as Anna did) it becomes infinitely more powerful.
Many thanks to Anna for sharing her story, and information about this resource with us.