If you’ve experienced betrayal or the shattering of trust from the person you trusted the most, It’s very likely you’ve also experienced the dark night of the soul. What’s that?
It’s rock bottom.
There’s a sense of despair and eventual surrender at the realization that our old self, life, beliefs and behaviors no longer make sense.
The dark night of the soul is an exceptionally painful experience and if you’ve ever been through it, you remember it clearly. It’s a specific moment or period of time where you feel it can’t get any worse. Everything comes to a head. Everything comes to a crashing halt. You feel helpless, hopeless…it feels like there’s nothing to grab onto from where you are at that moment. You are so desperate for a solution, for relief, for clarity for anything that will get you out of this dark and painful space.
The beauty is it only gets better from there.
So if you’ve experienced that dark night of the soul, imagine looking at it like it’s a trampoline. That’s where you crash, but that’s also where you have the opportunity to bounce so high and so far.
Everybody we know who comes into The PBT Institute after that dark night of the soul is in Stage Two or Stage Three out of The Five Stages from Betrayal to Breakthrough. That’s the moment where you strategically, systematically, deliberately and intentionally start moving through the Stages so you start to think, feel and act differently. It’s where you begin creating a version of yourself that never would have had the opportunity to be birthed had the experience not happen.
It’s where you begin to transform.
I know how painful it is. I’ve been through it myself, but I also know how great it feels to be in Stage Five and it’s available to anyone willing to let go and build something new.
Once you’re committed to moving through your experience however, here’s something that often happens. As you try to make sense and meaning out of what happened, it’s common that you’ve gone over your shattered trust and betrayal experience thousands and thousands of times-coming out of it no better than the last few thousands of times you’ve been over it.
That’s when you need a pattern interrupt.
What’s that? It’s where you deliberately and intentionally stop the automatic pattern that’s been created that has you going down that rabbit hole that’s hard to get out of. So this can be something as simple as putting a rubber band around your wrist and snapping it-not to hurt you but to remind you to stop doing that. Whether you scream it out loud or scream in your head: “Stop!” “No!” or something else. It could also be a disruption in what you do, where all of a sudden you start dancing or singing or doing something so out of character that stops you from going down that familiar road.
It can be anything you choose to break that pattern of going over it again and again.
Of course, there’s so much more to it than just that, but you can’t change what you’re not aware of so see if it may work for you.
And if you’ve gone down that road so many times you know how painful it can be. It’s one thing to ruminate when you’re making sense and meaning of your experience. It’s another thing to marinate. Marinating keeps you deeply stuck (out of the Five Stages from Betrayal to Breakthrough, that behavior keeps you stuck in Stage Three).
So let’s say you’re moving through the Stages and moving towards reconciliation with your partner (and I only recommend this if your partner is taking full responsibility, has deep remorse, empathy, regret and is doing the work to change whatever led to their actions). This is a question I’m often asked:
“How long does it take to reconcile?”
It’s not a question of time, as much as willingness. If that person has the “whatever it takes” attitude and is really willing to do the work to change everything that led to the behavior, that’s a very different experience than someone who has the attitude of, “Listen, if you drag me to couples counseling, I’ll go but that’s about as much as I’m doing”. Please know that you have very little to work with there. If someone is really taking that whatever it takes attitude, they may have a lot to overcome themselves. They may have a lot of old habits, a lot of old beliefs or traumas that need to be worked through, dealt with, handled and all of it so it may take a bit longer.
However, way more than the time it’ll take is the willingness to do the work.
One more point. I see people sabotaging their own success and their own healing because they don’t want to outgrow their partner. There’s too much fear in the idea of realizing they’re no longer a fit once they regain their confidence, create new boundaries, self-respect and more. So it’s important to see if you may be doing this. If you’re not sure, ask yourself an open ended question like: “If I fully heal, I’ll…” or “If I weren’t afraid I’d…” and see where it takes you.
In my 30+ years working with thousands of people, what I consistently suggest is this: never make a decision from a low place.
With that said, as far as reconciliation goes, it’s really more about their willingness than time. Hope that helps and of course, check out our resources at The PBT Institute to see how you can start moving forward…once and for all.
Where are you on your healing path? We’d love to know, comment and share!
Dr. Debi Silber
Founder and CEO, The PBT (Post Betrayal Transformation) Institute