Betrayal triggers - rigid pride, secrecy, and dishonesty

Has anyone else found that secrecy and dishonesty as well as a refusal to be humble or open in very close relationships has created an environment filled with triggers that led them to fear betrayal (in any of its forms)? I fear betrayal as much as being abandoned. It hurts - so - much. I tell my partner all the time, it's the not knowing that seems to lead to real trouble - and he refuses to be open unless he's telling me something with shock value.

I'm at my wits end and I feel miserable. I've been agonizing over the same things for so long now. My partner and I fight about all sorts of things that, when it comes down to it, are fears that he or his three grown sons are betraying my trust and or my children's trust. I don't know how to get over it and I think I'm becoming more impulsive with the medication, so I just might destroy the fragile life I have. Meanwhile my partner makes it seem like it's all me, that it's a trauma issue, not him and that he's paying for what my ex did - betrayed my trust in our intimate experience and then later choose another woman over me. But then my ex thought he was paying for what my abusers did to me. It hit a nerve to hear that. Or do I just choose people that aren't good for me, people likely to deeply affect my triggers? My family would think so. (sigh...)

Is that common? Do we choose what feels safe simply because it's familiar including the traumatic familiarity? Are relationships bound to be problematic?

14 Replies

  • I get it. I think we do choose such relationships. And apparently from this that and the other what I have been told, we need to bring it to the light and then out of our unconscious, heal in that area, and then make better conscious choices of partners, friends, etc.

    I am not well today, so I need to stop writing. Just identify with what you wrote and wonder when and how I will choose a nice, kind, respectful, supportive man instead of the opposite like what I grew up with.

    At least awareness. That is progress. We have awareness and some inkling that this is what we have been or are doing.

  • Hi Peacefulandcalm. I'm sorry to hear you're not well today. Sending affection and feeling grateful that you replied. I hope you'll be gentle with yourself while you're recuperating. It seems to help me quite a bit. After some sleep, healthy food, and a mindfulness exercise with plenty of deep breathing, I'm now feeling more gentle and able to be understanding with myself and even with those that had me feeling so distressed when I wrote the original post.

    The focus of my mindfulness meditation today was on the inner life and becoming more aware of where it is that the mind wanders off during meditation. I noticed a few things that helped how I was feeling.

    First, my head was throbbing on one side from a headache, so I realized my mind was assessing what was happening in my body. Then I realized my mind, like most no doubt, is always assessing something - such as people, one face at a time, but it's assessing how things are going with each, or bills, one at a time, what's going on with each, or responsibilities such as calendared tasks or events.

    What I found fascinating though is that my mind also processes each based on the following criteria: am I ok? Or is everything ok? It's about safety.

    So when my mind sees my child, (my 18yr old) who said she was going to drop by, my mind isn't just assessing how she's doing or reviewing good things, it's asking: am I ok when it comes to her? Is everything ok when it comes to her? Am I safe? Is it safe?

    And my mind seems to do that with everyone and everything that it assess. Then once it has assessed that all is well, that's when there's room to be free to explore, to be curious, creative, and to play, or even nurture myself.

    So I went back and tried it again, this time more gently and when my mind started to scan my body I let it look at all the parts of me that were comfortable and felt healthy, and breathed into the realization that 99% of me felt good in my body. Then I let my mind start to scan the faces it reviews, and I posed the question, what if the answer was always: of course I'm ok - of course everything is ok? What would you want to know after that? So I breathed through that for a while, nothing more than "of course I'm okay" and "of course everything is okay." (Gee I'm breathing deeply even now just thinking about it.)

    Once I was able to do that, it's as though my mind became more quiet. Nothing really came to mind after that. I guess if it could have answered, it might have just said, "Oh. Okay." (grin)

    I actually felt compassion for myself and for the mind I have, for how it works because of trauma, that my mind has spent so much of life draining it's energy assessing whether or not I'm okay - because of trauma. It made me want to hug myself.

    I hope sharing that can be of help to you while you're not feeling well, or to someone else who identifies with us, or any of this at all.


  • good job, with the mindfulness meditation. yeah, I think this is one of our solutions...

    me too, the mind always assessing if I am ok, safe, secure, if anyone may betray me, how one person is acting or etc etc etc. It is so draining like you said.

    right now, I am too exhausted to think clearly at all. just totally get what you said and good job to you for bringing yourself compassion and peace through your meditation.

    'Then once it has assessed that all is well, that's when there's room to be free to explore, to be curious, creative, and to play, or even nurture myself.' ---totally relate.

    I need to rest, blurry vision.

  • This sounds like exactly the same thing I go through...the trust, knowing that I do not get the whole story, purposeful omitting, blaming my previous relationship, made to feel like I am the crazy one. I have been stuck like this for a while, and I think I need a skilled therapists I help me see things clearly and to help me make decisions about my boundaries. Wow, I thought I was the only one with this particular situation but I see that I am not. Thank you for posting, BearHug!

  • I've tried explaining it this way: "it's the not knowing that can cause the most touble." When you think of it, if a small creature has had to deal with a lot of threat to its mortal safety, it will behave in one way deep inside its burrow, particularly if the environment is predictable. Put in outside of that place the creatue already knows to guard itself. The comparison would be if it's most secure environment (comparable to a close relationship of trust) suddenly becomes unpredictable. Something is different but it can't determine if the different is dangerous. Would there likely be any change? Would it likely remain at rest at the same level of calm it achieved when the environment was predictable? Would it inspect the changes? Even Sphex wasps are known to react to minor changes as a norm, in an otherwise ritualized series of behaviours. Safety is something that seems to be primarily assessed and responded to at automatic, physiological levels. It's no wonder that we end up feeling stuck in patterns of behaviour. The good news that Michele Rosenthal shares is that we can have impact on those patterns and processes and we don't have to remain stuck. Only we sure have our work cut out for us!

  • I love the comparison you've made BearHug. It is so true, and it's an easy way of understanding it. Thanks!

  • Secrecy is a trigger for me, in certain context.

    But there is more to it in your situation right now. Great that you are able to see things more clearly.

    It's not fair that you were blamed by your partners for what happened to you. It's like a cycle perpetrating itself that is very hard to break...

    Searching out people who are not good for us might be the fear of having something different. Afraid of "better".

    There was a time in my life 16 years ago when I had a really good few months after quite long turbulent time. I remember I was feeling uneasy that suddenly everything in my life was going okay. Then I needed to get used to that and treat it as a new normal because for me normal was a very stressful time.

  • Is it betrayal if your motive is their safety ?

  • Well since betrayal is a subjective experience, that's a tough one to answer. Weighing the value of keeping or breaking a trust for the sake of a greater good, would depend on the situation and maybe the relationship. I would expect that the kind of safety call I might have to make for my young child would be rather different than the safety call I'd likely make for an adult peer at work or even my spouse. You've definitely asked a great question though. In the case of a little child I might make something up or keep information from her to help maintain the child's sense of security. There's a lot of disclosure that could hurt a little child unnecessarily. On the other hand a spouse or peer would want the dignity & respect they rightly deserve. Disclosure with an adult can be an expression of both as well as trust. I would say the concern for safety would have to be pretty extreme to warrant dishonesty & secrecy. If it's not extreme you might want to ask just how hard will it be to reestablish trust once the other person is out of danger and is fully informed? What were your thoughts on this statsattack? I'd be really interested to hear what you and others feel or think about it. :)

  • I have to agree with BearHug, it depends on different things. So leaving children out of the discussion, between spouses, it STILL depends I suppose but what is it doing or what has it done to the relationship? Knowing that something was kept from me (after finding out), made me hyper vigilant. Paranoid, scared, worried, it made me a wreck. After finding out the 2nd time, I started making stupid and dangerous choices, as a way of screaming out.

    I wish I had made the right choice the 1st time, but I wasn't able to.

    I'm done with the dangerous and stupid things, thankfully. But I'm still stuck in hyper vigilance and fear. It doesn't protect me to not know, and I've been really damaged by what it has done to me.

  • She told me she was raped and before I was educated On PTSD she isolated me. I was concerned out of my mind if she was alright so I made up something asking people if she was mad at me. I did that to make sure she was ok.

    It probably wasn't the best thing to do at the time but for the first time ever I was more worried about someone's safety than my own

  • Oh! I'm so sorry. I can only imagine the heightened concern you'd have felt for her! We sure cant be prepared for everything in life. Sometimes there are no easy answers and instead we get stuck with choices that are grey rather than black or white. It certainly sounds like you responded to the love and concern in your heart! (Great big hugs for that.) Raw vulnerability and feeling over exposed can set off that powerful need to isolate. I've done a lot of that over the years and that usually has more to do with me trying to cope than with other people. What a hard situation for both of you! It sounds like it still weighs on you.

  • I agree with BearHug.

    Sometimes I isolated myself because I needed to process things, without realizing that people close to me were worried. Now when I need some time, I try to explain that it's not a rejection but that I need to recharge.

    I have been on both sides of this situation and I understand very well the feeling of worry for someone's safety.

  • Feel like worlds biggest ass for when she told me being friends was to stressful I got mad at her and wanted to be done. What killed me was not the PTSD but friends of hers giving her advice without knowing the situation

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