Updated: Jan 31, 2020
It happened. You heard about it, obsessed over it and finally proof was thrust into your hands.
And you're devastated.
Betrayal is one of the worst things that can happen in a person's life and the closer you were with the person who broke your trust, the more traumatic it is for you and the harder it is to for you to heal. But while it will take time and effort, healing can happen. Below are fifteen practical tools to heal that I found to be helpful when you have been betrayed.
1. Cry. A lot. Did you know that the tears we shed due to emotion are less salty and more watery than the tears we shed when we are in physical pain? Even our tears change when our heart has been broken. Crying is good and healthy for the body and for the mind. When we are in pain, the body's natural respond is to cry. So cry. Get it out.
2. Get angry. It's not unscriptural to be angry. It is unscriptural to sin in anger. If you want to put a pillow over your mouth and scream, do it. If you need to take a drive so you can let yourself have a full blown ugly cry, do it. If you need to go for a hard run or climb a mountain or take a kick boxing class to get the rage out, go for it. If you want to say all the things you wish you could say, write it down and then tear it up or burn it (don't actually tell the person. It won't help matters). Bottling up anger will turn you into a ticking time bomb. So be angry about the injustice. It's fine.
3. Eat. I'm not talking about emotional eating. I'm talking about keeping your body as healthy as possible. When I'm under extreme emotional stress or heartache and the adrenaline has worn off, my body will shut down and I simply cannot eat. If you're like me, then pick up some Ensure or nibble all throughout the day on crackers, fruit or nuts. Your body has taken a hit and your immune system feels it, so try to do the best you can and eat.
4. Force yourself to go places. Isolation is the absolute worst when we are heartbroken. However, after a devastating stab to the heart, our motivation goes out the window and we would rather be on our couch staring at the television screen with a pint of ice cream than out in public. Make yourself get out of the house anyway. Call up a friend for dinner, go to the park or to the mall and walk, take a jog around the neighborhood, go for a drive and see a place you've never seen - whatever and however you can, don't just stay at home.
5. Find good music. It helps me to listen to songs that relate to what I'm going through but, after that feeling of validation, I need a pick-me-up. Find good music that gives you some hope that tomorrow will be better than today. Because there is hope.
6. Make a To-Do list. This is not the burdensome kind of To-Do list. This is your personal To-Do list. This is where you write down the things you want to do with your life. Have you always wanted to try painting? Write it down. Have you wanted to go visit that place? Write it down. Write out a bucket list and make plans to start checking things off the list.
7. Surround yourself with nontoxic people. Set up a group of people you trust. This is your tribe. I have one I affectionately call "The Grace Squad." These are the people I trust with the ugly and the broken parts of me. They encourage, they don't give cliches, nor do they allow my head to be buried in the sands of denial. Surround yourself with a small group of people who know you best, who tell it to you straight, who are kind and gentle with your heart and who minister to you in a way that propels you forward.
8. Pet animals. No lie, playing with animals can uplift your spirit. Whether it's horseback riding, Netflix with the cat, a walk with your dog, or getting yourself to a petting zoo, animals help heartache. Go watch the squirrels play and listen to the birds sing. Offer to dog sit for someone. However you do it, you will reap the benefits.
9. Laugh. Especially in the early stages, laughter is hard. But do your best to laugh as much and as often as possible. Call up that friend who tells the best jokes, watch a (clean) comedy, babysit some kids or observe your own (plenty of humor can be found there). Laughter really is good for the heart and for the spirit so even though you may be weeping, try and laugh too.
10. Take inventory. Why did it end? What will you miss? What do you not want to repeat? What can you change? What can you maintain? Take stock of your life, your pattern of behavior, your strengths and your weaknesses and make a plan for the future instead of staying hitched to your past.
11. Get professional help. There is absolutely nothing wrong with counseling and therapy. If you find it nigh impossible to regulate your emotions or to make sense of your life, there is no shame in taking medication or asking someone for help. We were CREATED for community. I was a little skeptical of "head doctors" and telling strangers my business but it proved to be one of best decisions I made for not only my healing, but my life in general.
12. Invest in someone else. Though awful and life changing, this happened for a reason. We don't always know the "why's" and "what for's" in life, but as we walk through the messy and the broken, extending a hand to someone else is one of the greatest ways we can heal. Now you understand what that woman at work is going through. Now you can spot the hurt and helplessness in that woman's eyes in the chair next to you at the salon. Use your story and your testimony and your lessons to help lighten someone else's load.
13. Make your bed. Literally. When our life feels unmade and our emotions are all over the place, as silly as it sounds, having a made bed and a tidy room can help our shoulders relax and our mood to lighten. Take advantage of every thing, no matter how small, that helps you feel calm and focus on maintaining it.
14. Forgive. It's hard. Keep in mind that forgiveness isn't about you forgetting what happened, it is about setting yourself free from bitterness. Go through the painful issues, memories and actions and work at forgiving that person in your heart. It doesn't mean you will never have bad feelings again, it simply means you are pursuing total healing, even if you have to forgive again the next day...and the day after.
15. Believe. Believe that God is still good. Believe that you are His daughter and valuable in His sight. Believe His Word is true. Believe that the bad things are always worked out for the good to those who belong to Him. Believe that joy is still found in His presence. Believe by faith, that everything will be just fine in the end. Believe it because it's true.