Are You Struggling with Post Betrayal Syndrome™?

(If you’d rather skip the explanation and go straight to the quiz, scroll down to the bottom of this post)

Anxious, angry, fearful, sad, exhausted?
Blindsided by a betrayal experience and not sure how to move forward?

Betrayal can blindside us, leave us questioning everything we’ve grown to believe in, trust, enable us to feel safe and can leave a devastatingly painful impact on our body and mind.

Betrayal happens when there’s a breaking of a spoken or unspoken rule within a relationship. The more we trusted and were dependent upon the other person, the bigger the impact of the betrayal.

Betrayal has many faces and here are just a few:

  • Someone in a position of authority like a parent, a teacher, employer, mentor or coach. The understanding is that if you follow their direction, they’ll guide and support you appropriately. Then they do something harmful or inappropriate, taking advantage of that position of power. The rule or understanding is broken, that’s a betrayal.
  • It could be a partner. It’s understood that you’re both going to stay faithful and one of the partners has an affair. That’s a betrayal.
  • It could be a marriage. The understanding is that you’re going to grow old together and then you get divorced. The agreement is broken, that feels like a betrayal.
  • It could be your best friend. The unspoken rule is that you tell each other
    secrets and they stay between you both. They tell someone your secret. That’s a betrayal.
  • It could be a coworker you’re working with on a project. It was understood
    that you’re working as a team. They finish the project the project and present it to your
    boss without you. That’s a betrayal.

Which ones hurt the most? The ones that involve the greatest investment of our trust, sacrifice…and heart.

For example:

  • Maybe you sacrificed your career and found some part time work so that you could work around the kid’s schedules. You raced from one responsibility to another, taking care of everyone else except yourself which left you feeling overweight, exhausted, unfit, unfulfilled and unhappy. You feel bad enough about how you now look and feel then learn that while you were sacrificing your own needs for the sake of everyone else’s, believing that you and your partner were in this together, you’ve been “traded in” for someone new.
  • Maybe you’re working full time then end your day and take on all of the responsibilities of your family, believing that you’re both contributing financially. You’re exhausted, doing all you can at work and at home, believing that your partner is doing the same. You discover that you’ve been the only one contributing and the money is gone.
  • Maybe you don’t have kids but you just trusted someone with your heart. You were scared, vulnerable and took a chance, trusting that you’d be loved, valued, treasured and safe. Instead, you were taken advantage of, manipulated and tricked.
  • Maybe your family promised they’d be there to support you in your times of greatest need. You need them now more than ever and they’re nowhere to be found.

These betrayals create so much pain because we were playing by the rules and without our awareness or consent, we’re forced to face the fact that the person we trusted took advantage of their position and our trust.

This impacts us because:

  1. We realize the person we trusted put their needs above ours
  2. It sends a shock to the body and mind, imprinting the experience on us at every level
  3. Trust, which is the foundation of our relationships, is broken

What happens to your body, mind and emotions after betrayal?

Intense fear ignites the stress response and leads to a cascade of physical, mental and emotional symptoms such as adrenal issues, extreme fatigue, digestive and gut issues, confusion, mental chaos, brain fog, depression, sadness, anger, rage and humiliation to name a few.

Emotionally, it can also destroy our confidence, sense of worthiness, feelings of rejection, abandonment, the sense that we were disregarded, taken advantage of and so much more.

One of the biggest challenges when it comes to betrayal is the breaking of trust. When we trust someone, we believe we can be vulnerable, we’re loved, protected, valued and safe. We believe that the other person has the same values, beliefs and level of integrity that we have. We believe that they’re honoring the same agreement, sharing the same priorities, and living by the same rules. We feel that when others outside of our trusted circle may hurt us, those we’ve given our trust to would never do anything to violate that sacred contract…until they do.

The shock, feeling of being blindsided, and completely caught off guard can instantly dismantle everything we believed in. Of course, this sends the body and mind into a state of panic and physical, mental and emotional symptoms begin.

When this happens, it’s natural to seek support for some of your symptoms. Maybe you find a practitioner who can help with your gut issue. Maybe you look for a medication or supplement that can help you fall or stay sleep. Maybe you diet to lose the excess weight that seemed to creep up out of nowhere. Maybe you take something or start having a glass of wine or two at night to manage your anxiety.

Here’s the problem:  If you’re not unpacking all of it and just trying to manage a symptom as it arises, you’re not going to make the progress you want. When you only work on a particular symptom, the root issue is never addressed…and never healed.

Can you relate? I hear you. I’ve been there and I can help.

There’s a definite collection of physical, mental and emotional symptoms and responses that were discovered during my PhD study on how women experience betrayal. It became so obvious, it’s now known as Post Betrayal Syndrome™.

Could your physical, mental and emotional symptoms be due to
Post Betrayal Syndrome™?

Wishing you health and healing,

Dr. Debi Silber, President, The Silber Center for Personal Growth and Healing
The PBT Institute in New York