The Loss of Self in Betrayal

When Will I Feel Like Myself Again? The Loss of Self in Betrayal

By Kara Facundo

I wait for it. A question as familiar as a pair of well-worn jeans weathered with the repetition of time and experience. “When will I feel like myself again?”

One of the most challenging aspects of Betrayal is addressing the loss of self. Experiencing deception from a trusted partner or loved one can cause feelings of confusion, shame, anger, sadness, and a profound sense of loss. We may question our own judgment, values, and even our own identity. It can lead not only to a loss of trust in the person who betrayed us but also a loss of trust in ourselves. Holli Kenley, LMFT and author identifies four areas of loss that are particularly impactful in betrayal:

The loss of self buried in shame:

Betrayal often leaves those affected wondering if they were to blame for the disconnect. “Is there something wrong with me? Was I not good enough? Did I misread the depth of the relationship?”

The loss of role and reputation:

Could others see what I didn’t? What will they think of me? What do I think of myself? Am I so naive that I didn’t know this was happening?

The loss of being seen and heard:

Betrayal may cause individuals to question their own judgment, self-worth, and their ability to form meaningful connections with others. Talking to others with increased vulnerability can be extremely hard. “I don’t know who I can trust. I don’t even trust myself. What if I get hurt again?”

The loss of innocence and identity:

Perhaps you, your kids, family or friends were exposed to parts of the world that you never wanted to know about, particularly where infidelity, addiction, or abuse is involved.

Dr. Doug Weiss, an expert in the treatment of betrayal trauma and sexually compulsive behaviors, identifies other losses in the area of infidelity such as The loss of life as you knew it to be, the loss of emotional or physical safety, loss of sexuality free from trauma/memories, loss of financial security, loss of being secret-free, loss of being STD-free, loss of your relationship as you believed it was, loss of your partner as you believed they were and loss of naïveté.

What Do I do When I have lost my sense of self?

Come back to yourself. Stay true to your values and how you want to live in the world. Spend time counseling with others you trust who have a good sense of your character and what is important to you. Practice self-care through healthy sleeping, eating, and exercise routines to provide your brain with stability and consistency. Remember grace and self-compassion and engage in activities that promote personal growth in the present. You may not perform in many areas of your life like you want, as you are unwinding the confusion of betrayal. It’s important to remember that healing from betrayal trauma takes time and patience as we look inward to remember and come back to who we are.