The pain of betrayal runs deeper than words can describe. When women try to express it verbally it’s almost always in the language of graphic violence:
“It felt like I had been stabbed in the heart over and over and was bleeding to death,” said one respondent of the 2104/2015 Survey of Wives of Sex Addicts.
Another stated: “I [was left] feeling violated: mentally, emotionally, physically.”
When we discover that our husband has betrayed us… be it a one-time emotional/physical affair, or habitual sexual acting out, we are shocked and grieved to the depths of our soul. If the acting out continues, or disclosure is "dribbled" each new revelation feels like another “bomb” dropped into our lives. Knowing you live in a war zone makes the bombs less of a surprise, but no less terrifying and devastating.
Why It Hurts So Badly
In her workbook for betrayed spouses (Journey to Healing and Joy), Marsha Means writes: “You have experienced relational trauma because the deep attachment bond shared with your partner was broken. Relational trauma is considered the most excruciating emotional pain we can feel.”
Recent brain studies show that the brain experiences emotional pain much the way it experiences physical pain. No wonder we use the language of graphic violence to describe it!
So, if anyone tells you to “suck it up,” or “get over it” when you express your pain over your husband’s betrayal, understand that advice makes no sense. You have been grievously wounded (traumatized, in fact) by the betrayal. That wound can affect mind, spirit and body. The healing process will not be fast or easy and until the biggest wounds have begun to close up, you will find yourself unable to function at your usual level. In fact, at times your own behavior may shock and distress you.
How Pain Manifests
There are a number of ways this level of pain is likely to manifest itself in our lives. These include:
It’s not uncommon to experience all of these manifestations—within a single day. How we deal with them, when they occur, determines how our healing progresses… or fails to progress.
Over the next couple of weeks I’ll look at all of these manifestations—sharing the stories of the survey respondents. I’ll also look at tools for managing them as we work our way toward healing.