We awkwardly sat in the waiting room. Dave bounced his knee incessantly, a clear indicator of his anxiety. I looked around the room, thinking about anything but the reason we needed to see the counselor.
What good would come from this?
Dave’s work required him to see a counselor to work through his porn use struggles. But did I need to be here?
It was his problem.
Or so I thought.
The counselor invited us into his private office. Nervous, I wiped my hands on my pants leg before sitting. Dave’s knee resumed bouncing. Tension crackled.
Over 30 minutes, the counselor unpacked what happened, where we were, and our options. The counselor asked, “What are you willing to do to recover from the porn addiction and its effect on your marriage?”
I think that’s the first time I realized that recovery would take months to years for both of us.
What is it about betrayal trauma recovery that feels overwhelming?
Betrayal trauma causes more than emotional wounding, often affecting the betrayed partner physically, mentally, and spiritually. Some people can experience PTSD symptoms because their once safe world exploded with the betrayal trauma discovery. In her article “How Long Does Betrayal Trauma Last?” Kristin Beaufort states, “In its simplest form, betrayal trauma is the pain and emotional distress experienced after severe deception by a loved one. It often leaves a wake of catastrophic devastation, inducing physical and emotional stress symptoms.”
As the wife of a porn user, you may need to ask many questions. Sometimes that feels like you’re sticking a dagger deeper into your heart, causing self-inflicted agony. I needed to know the extent of his porn use. Some women don’t, and neither is right or wrong.
How long should betrayal trauma recovery take?
Imagine two children in a trauma unit. One child rode his bike into a curb, resulting in several stitches on his knee and chin. The second child got hit by a car when he rode into traffic from behind a parked car. Each child experiences physical trauma. But the second child’s recovery will take considerably longer than the first. That’s logical.
We can apply this same principle to betrayal trauma recovery. Experts estimate it takes a woman anywhere from 18 months to five years to recover from betrayal trauma fully, with help and professional support.
You don’t just “get over” betrayal trauma.
The wounds are severe, authentic, and painful. Any reminder or trigger opens the fear, feelings of hopelessness, anger, and sense of loss. You struggle to find your safe place once again. I remember some days when just looking at Dave triggered those intense emotions.
Our counselor and coaches told us to expect to work on our recovery for three years. While the intense recovery work lasted eighteen months, we work on our recovery every day.
Like anyone working to overcome a debilitating habit or addiction, betrayal trauma recovery isn’t a “one and done.” It’s a healing process that helps you identify your triggers, both the betrayer and the betrayed, and offers strategies to lessen the pain caused by those triggers. It’s been almost two decades since our D-Day, yet we remain diligent in guarding our relationship, thought life, and media inputs.
Where are you on your recovery journey?
The best next step is to reach out for help. The worst thing you can do is ignore the problem hoping it will go away. Please take 30 minutes this week to schedule a free call. You and your betrayal trauma recovery are worth this investment.