The Silent Killer: Infidelity

Tiffani Davis, M.A., M.A.C.P

The Day Time Stood Still

Has the reality you thought you lived in been shattered by the silent relationship killer known as infidelity? I call it a silent killer because as soon as the seed is sown it begins infecting your relationship with lies and secrets until your relationship D-Day, the day the betrayal is exposed. This is the day time stood still, and all hell broke loose as you learned about all the things that seemingly had been happening right under your nose. This was the day that if you didn’t know what surreal means, you finally did as you observed your life shatter into little pieces from outside your body.

Unanswered Questions

Some relationships survive the poisonous effects of infidelity, but it’s by no means easy. It can be challenging to describe the devastation one feels when they have been betrayed. Maybe it’s just you feeling the effects of the betrayal, but if there are children involved, their world is turned upside down too. What a delicate balance to try to hold it together to deflect the fiery darts the infidelity is shooting at them. How can someone supposed to love you and love their family inflict so much damage and expose everyone to hurt? Your mind burns with many unanswered questions- how did this happen, who was the other person, why did this happen, how long has this been going on, where was it going on, and how did they find the time? No matter how hard you try you can’t close your eyes without reliving the devastating events that made you question your relationship that was once the center of your world. How could someone who loves you do this to you? The pressure in your chest from the hurt, embarrassment, and anger is almost unbearable, and you just can’t seem to catch your breath long enough even to think clearly.

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Signs of Trauma

The feelings people experience due to being cheated on are real and is known as relationship trauma. I know you probably think that’s just another new age label to slap on something that many people have been through. But, before you close your mind, stop reading, and start rebuking spirits, think about this. Trauma is the response to a deeply distressing or disturbing event that overwhelms an individual’s ability to cope, causes feelings of helplessness, and diminishes their sense of self and their ability to feel a full range of emotions and experiences.

Trauma is not just something that soldiers experience as a result of being in combat. After all, the fight that infidelity causes is nothing less than combat too.

Signs of relationship trauma can mirror that of PTSD. Symptoms may be:

  • Intrusive thoughts that won’t go away
  • Roller coaster of emotions
  • Out of body experiences​
  • Alternating between feeling numb and striking out in retaliation
  • Inability to stop scanning for any new data that might cause more distress
  • Feeling overwhelmingly powerlessness and broken
  • Overwhelming need to regain self-worth by assigning blame
  • Confusion and disorientation

Shattered Reality

Infidelity is often an unexpected attack on one’s reality and emotional and physical health. Think about how a person’s reality is shattered when someone you invested years of your life in, trusted and were fully committed to betrays you. The betrayal leaves you questioning everything about the reality you thought you lived in, second-guessing every minute of your past with that person?

You might have felt like you were living with a stranger because the actions that were exposed seemed so far removed from the person you thought you knew, the person you shared every intimate detail about yourself. The one person you were willing to expose the real you to and be vulnerable around. Was anything real? The I love yous; the romantic letters; the plans for the future? How could they mean what they said when they were doing the very thing they knew would hurt you and destroy your relationship? You just need an answer to make it all make sense.

Now you are feeling dazed, confused, and duped. You are disconnected from your feelings because they no longer can be trusted. One minute you are filled with hate and vengeful thoughts, while other times your heart and your body yearn to be touched by them again. Now your own feelings are betraying you because you told yourself you’d never let them come back in your life. They aren’t safe, and you don’t want to be hurt again so you have to make a choice.

Path To Healing

Everybody’s path to healing is different but there are some common elements such as:

Be Present focused. It’s easy to get drawn back in the past, particularly when things trigger unpleasant memories. You have to discipline your mind and not allow unpleasant thoughts to steal the peace and joy in your present. When you find your mind drifting backward and causing you to experience negative emotions, begin to focus on where you are now and what you have to be thankful for.

Forgive. It has been said many times that forgiveness is not really about the one being forgiven. It is really about you. When you forgive someone you aren’t saying what they did to you doesn’t matter. What you are saying is you won’t exert any more energy harboring anger, resentment, regret, and the other painful emotions that accompany unforgiveness. You are taking your power back and not letting your emotions be controlled by someone else’s actions. When you can release them from unforgiveness, you can make room for joy and peace to fill your heart.

Meditate. Give yourself a break from always trying to figure out what to do next. Sometimes clearing your head and not thinking about anything can help you find clarity.

Correct Perspective. Remind yourself this hurtful time is a chapter in the story of your life. It’s not the whole book. You have the power to write the next chapter of your life.

Journaling. Journaling is great for many things, one of which is catching runaway thoughts. Capturing our feelings and insights on paper can help keep them in the proper perspective and not inflate them. It can also help you to write the better, happier next chapter of your life as you record your hopes and desires.

Get Support. Patterns can be difficult to break, and you may find it overwhelming dealing with the relationship trauma. If you find it difficult to move forward you may need someone to help guide you through the healing process. If you are reconciling with your partner, you can seek help together and individually. 

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Living Your Best Life

There are no quick solutions to heal a broken heart, especially one that has been trampled on by the silent killer called infidelity. One must let go of the burdens of hurt, anger, and distrust that infidelity causes, whether moving forward with their partner or without them. Remember, it’s always darkest before dawn, so don’t give up on living your best life.

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