Trigger warning: this article contains content involving trauma and emotional abuse.
Chances are really good that when you met her, you knew early on there was something about her that was unique. There was something in her eyes that made you hungry for more of her story, to have words to describe the way her smile is just a little bit different than any woman you have ever met. The way her eyes sparkle is unlike any sparkle you have ever seen and you didn’t know what made her so different, just that you were drawn to her.
You probably also realized that when you were with her, you just felt a little calmer. You may have also felt a desire to protect her, even if you had no explanation why or what you wanted to protect her from, but when you stood next to her, you understood things were just different with her. Simply being in her presence made you feel a little different.
Your instincts were very right. She is different. She is a survivor of betrayal trauma. She isn’t a victim, even though she was victimized. She is truly a survivor and you have stepped into a relationship that will not be like most. If you were looking for calm and ordinary, you won’t find it in her. If you were looking for a shallow or superficial way to pass the time, you won’t find it in her. If you were looking for someone to pretend life is all unicorns and rainbows while you look out at the world from your white picket fence, you won’t find it in her.
She comes to you with a set of scars unique to those who have survived betrayal trauma and chosen to risk it all again for love. Those scars have some rough edges that will make loving her hard, but those scars also tell the story of probably the most courageous person you will ever meet.
Along with that courage, she has gained the ability to make you feel more alive than you ever felt. Those scars have some sharp spots that will need some strength in dealing with and at the same time these scars will make her a formidable partner in this thing called life, more than you could have ever hoped. Knowing what she has been through, and how it has shaped who she has fought to become is just as important as knowing how her uniqueness will affect your ability to love her well and be loved by her. Knowledge is always power.
There is something so beautiful, powerful and graceful about a woman choosing to love again after surviving betrayal trauma. The easy choice, many would say even the wise choice, after surviving one of the most soul-crushing things that can happen to a woman, would be to avoid letting it happen again. The women who loves after trauma isn’t looking for easy though and that shows you the ride that you are in for, if you are the one she chooses to love.
Trauma talks and it’s often deafening. Even after years of hard work, picking through the rubble of her shattered reality, broken self-esteem, and crushed spirit, pieces of the damage remain.
Some days, those pieces are quiet and barely noticeable and some days they are maddening. Having everything you knew about life, love, the man who swore in front of God, and all those you both loved to love, honor, and cherish you, and everything you knew about yourself one day suddenly come into question is some rough stuff. When the lies and mind games from the very man who was supposed to have your back more than anyone in the world is the perpetrator of this new hell on earth, is so severe, it’s like you don’t even know for sure what color the sky is anymore.
Digging out from this takes a warrior. It takes a strength and determination you won’t find in the average person because this trauma survivor who chose to love you, she isn’t average anymore.
The beauty of loving a betrayal trauma survivor is how she will respond to normal human kindness. Having lived a life where cruelty was the number one thing experienced and it was at the hands of the one whose lips said, “I love you” and actions said, “You have no worth,” her enjoyment in being loved well far exceeds any woman who has never known the pain of betrayal.
The level of compassion she had to have for herself to do the very hard work of healing, as well as the level of compassion in the human race to be able to put her fragile heart back out there for you to love, is evident in her grateful attitude and her huge heart.
The scars have made her softer in many ways. If you love her well, she will love you in ways and depths you never imagined. She will absolutely be one of the strongest women you will ever meet, but she will also be one of the kindest with a genuine concern for those hurting in the world.
Please know she didn’t ask for the monsters in her head that have her confused and make trusting hard. Once upon a time, she trusted someone and knew her reality, but the truth was that he let her live a life that was a lie and he was not trustworthy at all.
When her initial betrayal trauma hit, her world was literally turned upside down and everything she knew was now in question. The mind games and manipulation that followed at the hands of the one who hurt her so deeply, all while she was working hard to repair the damage he inflicted on her, further compounded the trauma this wounded warrior endured.
Please know the monsters are not in her head by her choices or her actions, but by the very person who was supposed to cherish and protect her. She would make them disappear in a heartbeat if she could. I promise.
Please know she will often feel broken. She knows she isn’t, but there are times when she will genuinely feel broken. There is a defining day (usually multiple) where she changed, where her brain stopped being her own at times, and trauma took over. Despite how much hard work she has had to do in order to be at the place of trying to love you, her life is split into who she was before (the betrayal trauma) and who she was after.
Betrayal trauma impacted every area of her life and her personality and she never asked for any of it. She doesn’t always think the way she used to and much of her innocence is gone. Pieces of herself were stolen from her by trauma.
She had to work damn hard to get them back and while she gained so many amazing new pieces, many of the old pieces of herself now have scars and are just different for her. She will never be who she was before betrayal trauma became a word in her vocabulary. That makes her feel broken sometimes.
Please know truth, integrity, authenticity, and vulnerability are now her life source. She cannot function without these things. If you cannot give her these things, you will lose her because she now knows the cost of not having them in her life. These things are needed for her to feel safe and the flip side is those are now crucial to her own set of core values.
When she does let you in, she will let you into deeper places of heart and mind than anyone has ever been before and that is a beautiful thing. The ability to be vulnerable is commendable in any human, even more so in a person recovering from betrayal trauma. While her self-esteem took a major blow from the betrayal, her ability to speak her mind without fear of consequences makes the way she is comfortable in her own skin a truly beautiful sight to see.
Please remember she is extraordinary.
She was burned by love to the point of feeling like death would be better than the pain she felt and here she stands today, wanting to love you. Let that sink in for a minute. The very thing that felt like it would kill her, she still believes in.
Because she’s badass.
She will fight demons in her head you couldn’t conjure up in your worst nightmares. In fact, she already has. Some are still there and probably always will be because the reality is, as much hard work as she has done, trauma leaves scars and those scars need an extra special pair of hands to hold the heart that is capable of walking out of a fire and choosing to risk being thrown back in for love.