The mind of the betrayed

When betrayal is disclosed, an array of long lasting physical, mental and emotional symptoms occur.

They say processing and recovery of these symptoms take 2-5 years provided the betrayed and the betrayer do what is required and both put in extreme effort and hard work. After 2-5 years – MAYBE you’ll start to feel like the old parts of you that you loved creep in.

But what happens before the 2-5 years? If you’ve discovered you’ve been sexually and/or emotionally betrayed, you’ve got one hell of an up-coming journey regardless if you stay or leave. It doesn’t matter if you were betrayed once or a thousand times; the symptoms and effort with processing are the same. If you’ve been betrayed, you will experience the following for 2-5 years – which your spouse won’t understand but may if it’s spelled out in black and white:

  1. You will ask many many details of what they did, and
    • EACH answer will cause you to question more to try and connect the dots
    • EACH answer will cause you to rephrase the question to make sure they’re telling the truth
    • EACH answer will take minimum 7 days to process
    • EACH new discovery/answers to questions that have already been answered sets the betrayed back minimum 7 days

If you have 261 simultaneous thoughts and questions about the betrayal (I had/have more than this), and each take 7 days (or more) to process, there’s your 5 years.

Keep in mind, one thought takes 7 days, but we are not only thinking one thought. We are thinking and feeling:

  • a hundred thoughts at a time and ruminating about them all
  • about their afterthought guilt and shame and trying to find a fiber of compassion for them (seriously, I don’t know how we do it)
  • like zombies as if someone has taken over our bodies and minds

All the while – we’re:

  • working
  • taking care of parents
  • taking care of kids and really trying to stay patient
  • helping with homework
  • playing games with our kids
  • taking our kids to activities
  • playing fake happy face life with friends, family, co-workers and children
  • cooking
  • cleaning
  • grocery shopping
  • angry
  • enraged
  • resentful
  • anxious
  • disgusted by our spouse
  • thinking about hurting ourselves
  • blaming ourselves for being so stupid
  • suffering a severely diminished self esteem
  • ruminating about what they have that we don’t
  • in pain because of a STD
  • worried we’ve been exposed to HPV and need to go through screening for years
  • spending thousands of hours and dollars in counselling
  • spending thousands of dollars on medication
  • reading books and blogs on “How to Forgive Infidelity”
  • stalking the OW
  • conjuring up revenge scenarios
  • worried we’ll be homeless
  • worried the OW is pregnant
  • paranoid that he misses her/them
  • paranoid that he’s still talking to her/them
  • paranoid that he’s still meeting up with her/them
  • worried about what will happen to our children
  • hating our spouse
  • loving our spouse
  • suffering from PTSD
  • suffering nightmares of the affair(s)
  • suffering insomnia because of rumination and fear of the nightmares
  • drinking
  • doing drugs
  • not taking care of ourselves
  • feeling dirty
  • losing our identity
  • feeling like we want to run away
  • feel like we want to stay in bed
  • losing weight
  • fending off questions from our friends and family about what’s wrong
  • physical ailments from all of the stress hormones running though our bodies but still need to do all of the above patiently and gently so no one knows or sees your pain

And we don’t really remember doing ANY of the above because those 261 questions and thoughts are rolling around in there each with their 7 days of processing TAKE OVER OUR LIVES. You could be on day 5 for one, day 3 for another and day 7 for a new one which may cause the day 3 processing thought to reset and start the 7 days over again.

And then we get triggered – DAILY – by a song, driving by a place they met that was OUR place, frantically (and repeatedly) scouring though old emails, photos, texts, phone records, banking/credit card statement, pockets, drawers, behind couches and receipts trying to figure out the timeline and remember what exactly was going on that exact day, which causes more triggers, processing days and hours and hours of a domino effect of spiraling and going “there”.

Betrayers: hopefully this will help you understand that we can’t just “get over it”, why at year 1 we still have items that need 7 day processing, why at year 2 we’re starting to feel ok but still go “there”, why at year 5 we still aren’t ourselves and why we will never be ourselves again.



36 thoughts on “The mind of the betrayed

  1. Everytime I read anything resembling *get over it*, I remind myself, I had three years of trying to get out of my betrayal, secrets and covering my lies. Three years down the rabbit hole.

    My xp had it force fed to her in a 30 minute phone call and a bunch of emails from K.

    It takes time…but you have to be willing to do the work. When in doubt I always fall back to the wisdom of L.R. Knost: “Do not be dismayed by the brokenness of the world. All things break. And all things can be mended. Not with time, as they say, but with intention. So go. Love intentionally, extravagantly, unconditionally. The broken world waits in darkness for the light that is you.”

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I love that saying, and it works for me, but not all unfortunately. My Mother has dealt with broken heart syndrome for more years than her and my Dad were together. It broke her (more than she was already broken) to the point where she got an actual heart condition from it being broken.

      Some just never ever recover.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. That is one of many things I admire about you SAA, you recognize that and so don’t get distracted by the shiny of the act.

        You recognize the acting out as something more fundamentally damaged. You look for the actual thing.

        I think I occasionally used the way of the thing to avoid dealing with the thing.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I can tell you right now, this experience has damaged my heart physically too. Months of getting only few hours of sleep a night followed by depression, anxiety, and a complete lack of exercise, I can feel my heart damaged. There is no coming back from that.

        and those experiences were not simply because I got caught, or out of Shame, or out of loss. Those things that I experienced oh, and the way I behaved, which directly tied to a sense of empathy about how I thought and felt about hurting someone that loved me so deeply and that I am still physically and emotionally bonded with.

        These things take time…

        And that is part of knowing where I belong. And with who.

        Read much about your parents. I’m not sure is it posted somewhere? Regardless, I’m sorry about your mother. And I’m sorry for your father.

        I think in some respects it is also how my ex-wife responded. I felt her pain for me ending the marriage and I selfishly tried to play Hero to fix it (although I am of the opinion that my ex-wife manipulated my guilt). However, as a result of my decisions too emotionally and physically care take I only did more damage.

        At this point I’m inclined to believe that I’ve done far more damage to my ex-wife than my XP. I’ve come to the conclusion, ghost story or not, that my XP was looking for a reason to end the relationship anyway…because if she wanted something different, she would have done something different.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. I’m sorry to hear about your heart, and I think you’ve done far more damage to yourself 😦 you have your pain, shame and guilt, and then you also have the pain, shame and guilt that goes with knowing you’ve hurt so many other people, and you’re alone trying to deal with it all. This side sucks, but I wouldn’t want to be on your side of the fence either.

        For some, like C, betrayal is the end – for no other reason or story we conjure up than this was her boundary. Period. I respect that, I really do.

        Why do some, like me, stay? I don’t know if even Dr. Phil could figure it all out, but I’m quite sure it’s so complex and goes waaaay back to all of our life experiences from birth and family of origin. Who can unequivocally decipher who we are and why? Sometimes to shut up the noise, we have to come to terms with “it is what it is”.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I desperately wish I knew her truth too. When I was able to ask her if she really wanted out of the relationship, because that is what she supposedly immediately told K, her only response was, “you don’t need to know what I said.”

        I try not to overthink all the details, but we choose our relationships as a mirror for what we need to see about ourselves, and now that I see the pattern, I understand her choices, and mine.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. And you know, despite everything I see now that was not working in our relationship, I’m still willing to work on it with her.

        However, regardless of her decision to end it, I’m still responsible to work on those things less I repeat them. She’s no more the problem then she is the solution.

        Yet my heart still aches.

        Liked by 2 people

      6. Oh God. I hope there is recovery. I am working so hard at it! As you probably know, I have medically diagnosed stress-induced cardiomyopathy. Broken heart syndrome is scary shit. Still on the beta blockers for a while yet.

        Liked by 2 people

      7. Yes, I know you have complicated broken heart syndrome 😦 😦 ;(

        My Mother’s life has been very painful and complicated and has mental illness plus a whole past of sexual abuse, so I’m quite sure this also plays a part. I know you have a violent and traumatic incident in your past also that may play a part. Rog/my Dad were the hero’s and the ones to keep you safe and feeling secure from anyone ever hurting you again, But they did, and now they’re gone and you feel totally exposed – PLUS your heart is broken.

        I wish I knew the answer, not only for my Mom but for you ❤

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Thank you for writing and sharing this. It should be required reading for every man or woman who has broken someone. Sleep deprivation can be deadly. It amplifies every single bad thought. Every gut feeling we try and sweep aside because we stayed and are trying to make a marriage. A trusting relationship. Someone will write a flowery response that I will be able to trust again. I don’t know if I can. And that’s ok for today. My husband refuses to get counseling. To get any help. I did see that he’s following some good resources on twitter. So yay there. My heart and body and soul have been shattered. It takes time to put all that back together for sure. Sorry for rambling. 🦠🧻

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Alice, you are not rambling and I’m so happy you reached out.

      This is heartbreaking stuff, and there is no timeline for processing or forgiving. Trust may never be restored unfortunately and you may always have that little nudge in your stomach to look over your shoulder, look at the details on the phone bill etc. etc. It’s crazy making shit.

      Are you ok with him not getting any counselling or help? Why did he have an affair? What is he doing/what has he learned about himself to ensure he won’t do it again?

      These are ALL items he needs to look deep into himself an answer, your only job is taking care of you.


      1. I wish I knew. He’s had a couple epiphanies in our relationship. And there have been at least 5 women I know for sure he’s had sex with. This last one he must have had feelings for. 2 years. Please don’t tell me in that time you never said I love you to her??? Why does that hurt so much. When I journal and share this stuff I’m like what is wrong with you?? Why would you stay? I took vows. I don’t cheat. I have fought for my marriage. Did I do the right thing? I’m not ok with him not getting counseling but I can’t make him go. I ask him what has changed that he knows THIS time he won’t do it again. He just doesn’t know. Which makes me want to scream. What a mess. But for whatever reason the p fell into the v yes that is cheating. That is infidelity. Just like sharing intimate stills with someone that is not your partner. Sending photos. All cheating and all betrayals.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yes – all of those are betrayals. If you’re hiding it, deleting it, don’t want me to see or hear – then t’s a betrayal.

        There are a few things I want to address (because I’ve been there):

        1. This last one he must have had feelings for. 2 years. Please don’t tell me in that time you never said I love you to her??? Why does that hurt so much.

        He didn’t have feelings for her, if he did he probably could be with her right? This state they’re in when they’re acting out – it’s a bubble where everything is perfect with rainbows and unicorns and there are no problems with money, work or the kids. he feels like the BEST thing that’s ever happened to her (because that’s what whores tell them). It’s not real, and I’m quite sure when the bubble popped he knew this.

        It hurts so much because you thought you were both on the same page and both loved in the same way. He didn’t/doesn’t know what love is because I’m quite sure even by his own definition, love isn’t: “respect, honour, in sickness, health, deception, and when I secretly and deceptively stick my dick into a disgusting whore”.

        The feelings he had were like the high one gets from heroin, not love.

        2. When I journal and share this stuff I’m like what is wrong with you?? Why would you stay?

        I have the same internal questions and answers every single day. The answer is that you love him and don’t want to be without him. That DOES NOT mean that you are ok with or condone his past behaviour. What is does mean is that you will not make any decisions for XX amount of time (I gave myself one year) for him to prove to you that he will seek help for himself and your marriage, and provided he is being truthful, transparent with the caveat that it is over immediately if there is any further acting out.

        Giving him a second chance does not mean you’re ok with what he did, and it doesn’t mean that there is anything wrong with you or that you have low self worth. Staying is VERY VERY hard, it means you’re VERY VERY strong – BUT you will not be a doormat now or going forward.

        3. Did I do the right thing?

        The answer to you making the right choice to stay will come to you in time with him proving to you that he is actively seeking help to try and understand WTAF is wrong with HIM, and seeing that he is putting in the effort required to keep you. His actions, not his words is key here.

        4. I’m not ok with him not getting counseling but I can’t make him go.

        If one of your conditions to attempting a reconciliation is that he goes to counselling, then he must go. If you don’t show up at your job, you don’t get paid and you get fired. Same thing here. Attendance is not optional. If he refuses to go, then you have some decisions to make.

        You have graced him with a chance provided A, B and C is done, and if A, B and C are not done, and if you’re not enforcing these requirements/boundaries, why would he do them? You absolutely must enforce your requirements and boundaries.

        5. THIS time he won’t do it again. He just doesn’t know. Which makes me want to scream.

        Unless he gets some help he will be white knuckling and will either be a miserable SOB or more likely, will do it again.

        Let’s again look at a heroin – if a heroin addict stops using, he’ll go through withdrawals, get grumpy and try and blame everyone else for how they feel and for what they do. Let’s say the addict is clean for 6 months (all the while still in withdrawal and fighting the urge to use) and then he runs into someone and they have heroin and he thinks he can just have one hit and that’s it. The issue is not that he took one hit – the issue is that he didn’t get down to the nitty gritty with a trained professional to find out why he started using in the first place. Why did he need an escape? Why can’t he cope with negative feelings? Why why why?

        All of the why’s are for him to figure out.

        Your ONLY job is to take care of YOU, get help for YOU, enforce YOUR boundaries, and if he’s willing to do A, B and C, work on a reconciliation if a reconciliation is what YOU want and choose.

        What happened in your situation? Did you have a D-day and then more D-days related to the first D-Day? Or did you find out he cheated, gave him another chance and then he cheated again, then you found out again and gave him another chance (repeat repeat repeat)?


  3. It is saddening to hear about two other women with broken heart syndrome. It’s very scary stuff! I know another woman who had it from betrayal. She’s doing better with lots of self-care, mindfulness and she seems to have a good outlook on life (her typical personality).

    I have palpitations sometimes. That was scary enough. Get this – nothing showed up on the heart monitor, but I definitely felt it in my chest.

    Anyhow – there is so much to process and it is a part of our healing. It’s exhausting work which we’d need to do with or without our partner. I’m just trying to be grateful for what I do have and what I can do. One step at a time. Not a race, for sure. Hugs to all!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree beleemee, it’s disheartening ( 😉 ) to see so much pain and suffering among our tribe.

      I also have been having heart palpitations to the point where I was snuggling with my youngest daughter recently and she not only felt it, but she heard it! She was shocked and very scared.

      I’ll be going to my physician ASAP to get a 24 heart monitor. I’ve also had this when Mr. P ended our relationship in the past, and nothing showed up either. I know it’s not anxiety – Atrial Fibrillation runs in my immediate family (mother and brother) so I’m worried about that, but I know my heart has physically changed/broke from the betrayal. Either way, I hope we ALL can recover from this xo


  4. I was never worried about being exposed to HPV. I was ignorant back then. It wasn’t until my first PAP smear came back abnormal that I was worried. I lost part of my cervix to the colposcopy. It was dysplasia somewhere in between benign and carcinoma in situ. I had no symptoms. Now I worry about throat cancer from the HPV. I gave great head don’t cha know. Scary.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s