‘Betrayal: Forgiving Your Ex’ by Susie Flashman Jarvis and published in Great Health Guide (August 2017). Have you ever cheated on your partner or been cheated on? The feeling of betrayal is very deep and hurtful. The consequences of betrayal in a relationship can lead to divorce or separation. However, all is not lost as there are some couples who survive betrayal but this will take determination and patience. But how do you forgive and move on from this situation? In this fantastic article by counsellor Susie Flashman Jarvis, she shares her three steps to the path of healing after suffering from betrayal in a relationship.
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MINDSET: Betrayal: Forgiving Your Ex
written by Susie Flashman Jarvis
The consequence of betrayal can be divorce or separation. However, it’s not always true, as the title of this piece implies that some relationships do survive, but it takes immense determination.
So, what is the process of forgiveness?
There are so many emotions to pass through. Using the cycle of grief and loss as our reference point is very useful. The cycle includes denial, anger, depression, bargaining and finally acceptance. Betrayal, although different to death, has many of the same components.
Many people that I have worked with have first sought refuge in the emotion, anger. Most likely that is because it feels the most powerful of the emotions. The truth is however, that anger can be crippling. Still, anger does need to be processed as it is a justifiable emotion and part of the journey. Plus, as it is assuaged, then there is room for something more…hope.
Men and women can hold a sense of internalised failure. The sense of not being good enough. Not young enough, beautiful enough, rich enough, just not enough. Forgiveness only comes through forgiveness of themselves.
FINDING A CONFIDENTIAL PLACE AND PERSON TO TALK WITH WILL START THE HEALING DIALOGUE. THREE STEPS TO HELP ARE:
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1. Talking through events.
Look in detail at everything that has happened and say it out loud.
Talking about the minute details with a non-judgemental person can bring clarity and freedom. Looking again at pain but in a safe therapeutic space, can bring a new perspective, not a decision that what happened was to be expected but a release from a crippling sense of shame.
Shame, is the fear of disconnection. We are hardwired for connection from birth and when that is broken, we find it almost impossible to manage, to find a way through. Thus, the need to speak to share, to start to re-build ourselves again.
2. Moving through the cycle of grief.
When we have loved and lost, it is necessary to grieve.
If we did not grieve then we could say the lost love is not important. Grief has so many components to it and there is no short cut. So, talking to another also has many levels. Depression is a powerful and often ignored part of grief; other people may find it very difficult to understand your depression. There is an impatience in many cultures in our world to get things sorted out rapidly. But it takes as long as it takes. Everyone is different. Will the process take longer for someone who had been married for 25 years, as opposed to someone in a much shorter relationship? Maybe, but then maybe that person now feels free after being caught up for so long. We are all so different and our processing will be as different too.
The cycle of grief has another component, that of bargaining and you may have done that, as you struggled to stay in the relationship, despite the betrayal. Maybe you are an older person and have denied the pain rather than face the shame that it brings. Whatever our sense of betrayal, we will all have to walk the path of shame. To face it and find freedom on the other side.
3. Pushing through the shame barrier.
Reveal who you really are and love yourself again.
It is said that showing vulnerability is necessary to discover the authentic you. This means that it is only when you are real, about hopes, dreams, losses and more, that you are released. Shame is revealed as we experience vulnerability and we are restored; the shame is released as we enable the true us to be seen.
So, how do you forgive your ex? Reveal who you really are, stare your shame in the face and learn to love yourself again.
It is in this process as we discover the strength to love ourselves again, that we can forgive another.
Author of this article:
Susie Flashman Jarvis is an accredited counsellor, speaker and ambassador for the charity Restored working towards bringing an end to violence against women. Check out Susie’s latest radio interview here. Susie’s novel, At Therapy’s End, tackles the issue of domestic abuse. Susie is also an executive coach based in the UK and is available for skype sessions. Susie may be contacted via her website.
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