Last week I began an answer to the following reader question:
My question is how do you get out of the pain and feelings of being ‘stuck’. I feel sad quite often when I think about the pain and damage all the trauma has done to me. I struggle with fibromyalgia and frequent headaches now, and as much as I pray and go forward for healing any opportunity that arises, the pain doesn’t seem to change. The problem is that it’s quite tiring living with both external and internal pain. So my question is how do you heal and get out of the dark valley and all the pain?
In the previous post we looked at current relational pain. Today we look at some other possibilities for "stuckness".
Past relational pain
Betrayal trauma specialists work a lot with women around the pain of their husband's past betrayals and help them to work to gain safety in the present. Once safety is achieved (which will be a long, difficult journey if there are any of the relational issues in play that were mentioned in the previous post) we will also help women move into grieving the losses that came with the addiction: such as losses to health (which you mention in your question), losses of dreams, losses to our children, etc. This phase can also feel long because it requires us feeling a lot of pain and sadness.
It’s not uncommon during this work for other grief and trauma to surface… sometimes related to the sexual betrayal, sometimes related to other relationships. While this can feel really unfair (must I feel that pain too right now!), it is also a chance to get some slightly deeper healing for these injuries.
Betrayed partners are never at fault for their partner’s problematic sexual behaviours/sex addiction. Ever. And, sometimes our healing from the betrayal gets impeded by issues that existed prior to our relationship with our husband… issues beyond current or past relational pain. As with the betraying partner such issues include:
- Mental illness: more serious forms of mental illness—e.g. a personality disorder, an anxiety disorder—will impede our recovery progress, if not even halt it. It is very worth getting an assessment and specialist treatment if there is any chance that we are in this category. As a caveat, betrayed partners who have been in a well-supported recovery less than two years should not be considered as candidates for a more serious mental illness unless one was known to precede the discovery of the betrayal. Even then, it is possible that relational trauma is the origin of the problem.*
- Neurodiversity: Asperger’s, ADHD, being further down the autism spectrum can all complicate and slow relational healing.
- Spiritual illness: in most Christian denominations we also hold space for the possibility of spiritual issues that may have gained a foothold. I’ve worked with women who have experienced spiritual attacks related to their husband’s sin, from generational sin, from previous occult involvement or SRA. Our own sin can also open us up to such problems.
- Other addictions: if we are using substances or processes (including sex, gambling, media, gaming) addictively, we can be impeding our own healing.
The journey to healing from betrayal trauma is definitely long and filled with painful emotions such as sadness, fear and anger. Whether we are on a “normal course” to healing or there is an “issue behind the issue” that is keeping us stuck, it is well worth seeking out extra supports for ourself.
I wish you all the best on your journey.
*regarding mental illness creating "stuckness" in the relational healing, Jake Porter just created a very helpful webinar on this called "Complexity".
If you have a question you also would like anonymously addressed in a blog post, please do send that through to me.