Betrayal trauma is a topic I’m very much interested in. In part, because I’ve experienced it this year and I believe most of the readers also have at some point in their life. The summer of 2018 was a scary time for me because the pain of heartbreak really is losing a piece of yourself.
According to Partnerhope.com
“Complex betrayal trauma makes you feel like you are losing your mind. It yanks your sense of security out from under you and puts you in a state of emotional free fall.
When complex betrayal trauma occurs, your brain begins to operate in a different way. The fear center fires up and stays fired up, creating hypervigilance, restlessness, anxiety, and a sense of being perpetually on guard.
This alters your ability to regulate your mood, to calm yourself, to think, to reason, and to make intelligent decisions. Your fear center hijacks your normal functioning, and you find yourself in a world where every task feels challenging, your mind will not stop racing, your emotions feel out of control, and your coping skills are stretched to the limit.”
Do you recognize yourself in this statement? I do. My most recent bout with betrayal trauma wasn’t cat related. It can be and I believe anyone with strong opinions has a better chance of it taking over your life. Think about all the friendships destroyed on Facebook due to religious and political beliefs.
I believe anyone who was caught up in the Julianne Westberry case had a hefty dose of betrayal trauma. Most animal advocates in Upstate South Carolina were friends with her. When we saw an animal saved from a kill shelter we breathed a sigh of relief because Julianne at the time worked for the Humane Society in Anderson. Click here for articles on JW.
When word came out that she had allowed dozens of cats to starve to death in her Belton home we were both angered and devastated. When the news got worse that even more cats were dumped on a piece of property to fend for themselves, with many never being seen again, once again we were all betrayed and devastated. And when the justice system didn’t bring about justice, well, you get the picture. It made us all very suspicious of anyone and everyone in cat rescue.
Those who went into the home or saw the cats after their rescue also had to deal with not only behavioral trauma but also PTSD.
Christine Courtois, Ph.D., is a psychotherapist wrote a book about betrayal trauma where she stated
“(Behavioral trauma) is a multiple and repeated experiences of interpersonal trauma. So complex betrayal trauma is both relational and repeated. It contains an element of betrayal by a trusted person, and it happens more than once. Often, it is ongoing, a chronic situation that lasts for months or even years.”
My personal experience had nothing to do with cats and everything to do with how I was treated by people I trusted. It ended my writing career for the better part of eight weeks (perhaps longer). I couldn’t write about bad news and I couldn’t write about good news.
I would stare at the computer and my head was empty. I couldn’t put any of my thoughts into an article. Friends were constantly sending me article ideas and I even went so far as to post I didn’t know when or even if I’d be able to write ever again. It felt like someone had thrown a switch.
Eventually, I had to give up on any thoughts on writing and just wait this out. Like the article photo above states, I had to follow steps one through seven and accept I may never recover from whatever was happening to my ability to write. What once came freely and with great support and success by those who read me turned into a situation where I simply didn’t care anymore.
Once I was able to step back and identify the situation and the one who was tormenting me emotionally I was able to accept it and eventually move on.
I’ve kept up with a lot of battles on social media this year where friends have been unfriending each other. I think it’s horrible to base a friendship on political or religious view and I kept those thoughts to myself. As it turns out, letting go of toxic relationships means the person on an emotional rollercoaster is one step closer to self-healing.
It’s worth your time to read this article and to research betrayal trauma on the internet. Attachment trauma, emotional and psychological trauma, and sexual trauma are all issues that we need to study up on. There are treatments available for severe cases. Personally, I chose to just wait mine out. I’m doing much better now, writing is easy and topics magically land in my head.
Have any of you been through this in real life or in your life on social media? Please feel free to share your story in the comment section. By the way, I’m still working on #8 because right now I can’t forgive.