Join betrayal trauma expert Carol Sheets (Carol the Coach) and my exchange on tools to address betrayal trauma- one complex issue that may thwart mental wellness-wounds of betrayal can feel like PTSD. Despite of this, betrayal is not your fault!
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support. And so, Sibylle, welcome to the show. Thank you for having me. I'm excited to see. Yes, well, I was so excited to hear you're writing this book. And we're always looking for support groups for male partners. And I know I threw it out to a couple of listservs. And Leah, brick. She contacted me and said, I know I was talking about my book, unleashing your power moving beyond sexual betrayal. And she said, I have a couple of men, could they come to your workshop? And I said, No, but I would love to start a workshop just for them. So the fact that this book is so well done, I mean, you go into, how does the man feel? What does he think about himself understanding his stress response. But let's just talk a little bit about the kinds of things that you really feels that a male partner goes through. I mean, I'm so excited, I'm sorry, I'm interrupting you here, because it is so hard to serve men. Because I think maybe even one of the obstacles is, they may even think that it is manly to seek help. I think we find that easier in female partners. But I'm so excited to hear that you will want to offer that workshop for the men because even looking for a a male support group is really, you know, there's not that many out there. So, I'm so excited to to serve in that capacity. Because even when I have male partners in my practice, getting them to a resource that they could just look things up with Monica manual, with like action steps, things to what they could expect. I felt that was missing, too. I put that resource together for them. Well, yes. And you did a very, very good job. So is that how you got involved with this when you realize what a limited resources were available for male partners? Yes. Because I love when when clients come in that I give them something to read or something to look up or that they don't just think I'm I'm coming up with treatment recommendations, and I did not have that. Usually accessible for for men coming in, and even how they may think about even this notion of men experiencing betrayal. You know, this is myth that men are always strong, and they know what they want. And, and that's not going to be happening to them. And when the reality then is that that same rupture, as you mentioned earlier, in that great wound from that ruptured relationship, and this feelings and symptoms that can be very similar to what we see in SEMA partners can be so debilitating, you know, and then there's so little information out there for them. Absolutely. So do you have an emergency first first aid kit? Or if you will, that you advise male partners to? resource from? Yes, and actually I put right at the beginning of resource because I have had specifically one partner who said, I really if as you're putting this together, I would want them to know from what they should write you know, go to what I wish I would have known and so it's one of those you know, emergency first aid kids that may not feel great when you go through it but it's having applied it to yourself that may make you that really may make a big difference. So first and foremost, get an STD test educate yourself about betrayal trauma what's happening you're not to blame you're not It's not your fault. You know, but even knowing why am I feeling so intensely then getting the professional support to learn it and how to manage even the use triggers that come out of blue a lot of times interrupting them and in getting the support set up. Ideally even as you know with with people understand like an A cosa meaning and a 12 step group they understand what you're dealing with, without you having to decide you know, what should family and friends know who should be you know, hearing what and what time because my the partner really wanted that these pieces are to be included in an emergency could said that I'm ringing a bell that you rang when you shared with others. That's not possible. So be careful, that was the other point here too, to be careful as to what you share with others. Because you may not get that support in the way how we would want it through the share. So getting an educated person or somebody who, who's been, you know, learning and growing and healing themselves, that might be someone to share with, who can then easily empathize with you where you're at, instead of having people who may not know at all, how to deal with betrayal trauma? Well, absolutely. And, you know, you give some of the basics that anybody really would would need to use if they were finding out about discovery, finding out about disclosure, who who do you think that they should look for? What do you think that they should look for as they're trying to find a therapist that's sensitive to this? Yes, and that was another thing I really wanted to highlight. Because I get when people come to my office, a lot of times they've seen multiple therapists. And it's so sensitive to to get support with someone who has a lot of knowledge as early as possible. So questions to ask could be even, is this therapist a what they call a certified sex addiction therapists to see set. So someone who is trained specifically had supervision, had case consultations to help a person with compostability. And who was had at least some basic education, on a betrayal trauma to that certification so that it's not looked at as, Oh, you know, there was too much anger in the relationship or is misdiagnosed as something where, you know, people should just have more sex and this will go away, right? So, so really, instead have somebody who is who's has been certified in their work with sex addiction, and even to ask them specifically, have you heard of partner trauma? Like is there have you been trained, do you know what that means betrayal, trauma, to quiz them really, to understand audio, operating more from a treatment model that was around maybe longer, where we look at an addiction as then having a partner or somebody who has an addiction into somebody who is with the, with with someone with an addiction is, is is like a co addicted person also must have some addiction piece. And instead, we know now that they influence with the post traumatic stress is a completely different way, we would want to attend to somebody with that what we call the trail trauma, from a betrayal trauma lens and, and even to go as far as asking the therapist about their ability to work with you and two triggers specifically. So there's what we call it somatic type of therapies where we work specifically with the body. So Soma means body and Greek. But these types of therapy really help to get the stress response, gently kind of out of the body, so that he doesn't keep amping up and keeping you in the triggers. And then I also think you go well, I'm so I was wondering, you know, we all know that partners save themselves over and over and over what is in my life. I mean, I thought I knew what my life was all about. And then bam, I find out that it is a lie. And so that kind of questioning of one's own existential self, and the existential world around them, really creates an identity deficit, I believe. And you talk about that in your in the book. And, and I have really wanted you to tell our listening audience about the different types of betrayal trauma, you know, some of what you learn from Omar Minh law. Yes, and I think he and his his research friends have done amazing work to identify how differentiated how many different of addiction or sex addiction, love addiction and use trauma, but are to really show specifically even with the discovery that suddenly with that discovery of these behaviors, everything kind of shatters. So really from the starting point of what what is being found out you are you knowing that suddenly what you thought it was, is is really not what it was for your significant other and This being in Los with the reality is it's so out of, you know, it feels like as if you are out of touch. And so it's very hard to identify even what was deceptive, and what not. But I think even in this work, we want to look also at ways to help with understanding how the body responds to trauma because it can so impact us physically. And you may not have been somebody who struggled with a body image issues prior. But suddenly you find yourself wanting to go for plastic surgery. Because you're feeling maybe you're too old or your your body is not looking at how it was when you when you met your significant other. It's, you know, we could see even typical dis you know, distress around not being able to sleep feeling you you don't even know how you drive into work and back. So you feel you're completely lost your grounding in reality. And so then it at the same time I see as validate, when we say that it is such such an existential crisis. No wonder, you you feel you're floating around in space, right? So one of those symptoms that are so hard to deal with a lot of times is that these memories from the discovery come back in and and and, and and just you were in it all the time. And you are so sensitive to to feeling like it could happen any moment or did it just happen again? Or was it real, was it not? And so, really, it It puts the lens on the more posttraumatic stress that could be easily triggered even by let's say, you're you're looking on your phone to folders, photos, and you wonder, when we were at the baseball game together was, was that really what we were really enjoying ourselves or was it not. And so there's so many facets that can come up and including how we feel as in our self concept, you know, how we define ourselves that these roles that we have know, me as a woman speaking here, like as a mom, as a friend, as a teacher. Now, for the guys, that's really more how they see themselves as a, as a guy, as a provider, or maybe as a father, male. And all of that is suddenly also at stake, it can be so confusing, to really find the trauma also affecting you, in your core of your gender identity, so to speak. And so you again, this is the point to remind you that you may blame yourself as like an automatic response to this experience that you had with the betrayal. But at the same time you want to say again, you are not to blame. And there's nothing that you cause this betrayal to happen. And that is such an important part, isn't it just because I truly hope civil? I am. So I see it over and over and over again, the partner says, How could I've avoided this? What could I have done differently? Why was is he satisfied with me? What was wrong with me? And so in this situation, you're saying male partners, also have those same feelings? and wonder what was wrong with them? Absolutely. And that they would, they would think about themselves, and you see these perfectly fine individuals, thinking that they were not enough to their spouse. And that is as heartbreaking I feel it is for the female partners I work with as, as I see men in that with that question was I not enough for you was my relationship not allowed, you know, so, so the existential and into the even as we see it with a couple ship or relationships and being so traumatized. And maybe you find yourself reacting in ways that you had your life going, you moved along. And now you're in this very sense of an insecurity that you react in these ways that you never imagined, which again, we understand through the lens of the betrayal trauma, as the relation or trauma not as suddenly you lost all your competencies. It's really as if the betrayal trauma put like this huge you know, you driving in the desert and you have your, your headlights, you know, full of dust and dirt and the betrayal trauma is like it wants to clog up your headlights, you know what your life is and your sense of self is. And you know, we want to just wipe down and gently attend to that betrayal trauma, so that it doesn't keep you from having access to your values, your sense of self and how you want to be in this world. It's so it's just so overshadowing and I get that now, this 13 times I have sex addiction taken from Omar, it's called the state model si t. Because what it really does is it takes a look at the trauma that's found in partners of sex addicts, so that you just list those different traumas so we can have an idea of what they go through, as discovery occurs. Yes, so I think he lists them as number one with discovery trauma. So this ongoing discovery of what happened, the impact can cause you fear in that shattered state of your sense of self. Number two would be a disclosure trauma. So even when things come out, it doesn't come out healthy, and a lot of times is healthily filtered. And with the support of a therapist, as it's been formally disclosed, but it can instead be this, this, you know, ongoing incident where the partner gets more and more pieces. And then at the same time, it's just looking at this unhealth and the deception and these behaviors that can cause that traumatic stress response. The number three of the types of betrayal was the, what they call the break with the ego. So the sense of your reality, ego, a fragmentation of the reality, ego, meaning your sense of reality, becomes traumatized and fuse completely shattered. And you change in your way of seeing yourself you think, am I not good enough, and that is a sudden loss of yourself, then the betrayal, trauma. Number four, in that types of betrayal, trauma is called an impact to the body and a medical piece on intersection with the body. And it really puts potentially the use physical symptoms into your system, such as not being able to sleep, weight loss, weight gain, hair loss, you find yourself, you know, in that hyper sensitivity, then he lists trauma due to external crisis, and that destabilization that comes with this whole discovery of betrayal trauma, as the fifth type here, and even changes to our teams when you know, you have to figure out different ways to do childcare, or who's picking up the child or living arrangements that can cause understandable, you know, tragic response. And then he talks in the sixth type of what we call hyper vigilance, and we experiencing of the same, you know, pieces of what was disclosed, or flashbacks of what was shared about what you came across. Then he lists as number nine, gender related trauma, so being so impacted as a guy as a may a partner as a father. And the relational trauma comes as the 10th type here, with the attachment injuries, were really with this load of these different types of sex addiction induced trauma, it also impacts your relationships, including the attachment to yourself into others. And that's then further explained in the point number, or the type 11. Where that he talks about family, community and social trauma, where other relationships understandably, how you, for example, relate to the kids and extended family members, co workers, that could be also impacted as severely, you may lose friends where they will maybe overlap of people knowing or unhealthy behaviors being in social circles. And then, unfortunately, also this area of what we call treatment induced trauma. So when you go to a therapist or a medical provider, who is not properly educated about betrayal, trauma, and then who may, you know, put you in a category would not help you with the betrayal and the trigger management. And I just had somebody earlier today, you're calling me I'm your partner, who said that his girlfriend's first therapists said that she wasn't sure that sex addiction existed. So you know, hearing that and then needing to look for the provider or being treated in that framework, can then also induce what we call treatment induced trauma. And then the last but not least amount of our type of trauma is what we call spiritual existential trauma where even our way how we relate to God that we have faith, religion, higher power. How we feel where our position is in the universe, so to speak, that is extremely compromised and impacted, because how can you know how I had my lens with regards to faith? How can this then happen? Why I am with my face values. So the faith and orientation to make sense of us as a person as a human being can see a very shattered deep analysis. Oh, you know, civil, you nailed it when you describe his sex addiction crisis. And how that affects the partner. And Allah is a master at understanding partner betrayal, he was one of the first he actually helped to was on the founding board of abscess, which is a partner sensitive training program for clinicians and coaches, of which I trained all the coaches and clinicians in the world. So I love talking about this, and you are making it simple. You're bringing it home to people that are hearing about their own trauma. And, Dan, if we got six out except they're male or female, they can share those and recognize what they've done in their own families, the collateral damage, if you will, of the despair. Now, I have a question, because I want to remind my audience that this is a new book that Zell has a simple I don't know what you know, I'm doing an EMDR workshop, which is now and You sound just like her because you're from Germany, Archer. I am very much from Germany. Yes, you can hear that at any time of the day. That's right. I know it's beautiful. So please forgive me, you have written this new book. And it makes everything simple. It's called a man's tools for addressing betrayal. And the information she is sharing with us is from that book, you have any idea when we're going to be able to get it? Well, it is in the last and final revisions. So I'm hoping that even early next month, which is starting Thursday, so it's not far away, I will be able to have that released to iBooks. You know, Google Play Android, Barnes and Nobles. And it just probably takes a couple of days with the isbm. But it is in its final stages to be released. Literally, and then I'm hoping in the next couple of days, it is time because I have my own mail clients that I really want to give this book to, even if they're already now with a therapist a lot in the book describes resources for yourself or your significant other even to find a therapist, but there's still things that I'm hoping that early in the first half of April, that it should be available. On That's excellent. And civil. Tell me what options do you feel exists the partners who discover the betrayal with regards to handling the relationship with the one who betrayed I mean, do you see? Do you see a similarity between how the interaction is for a betrayed male partner versus betrayed female partner? I think so. And so, I think a lot of times in the culture is looked at that guys may not care as much about their relationship. And again, this is a total stereotype, I don't agree with that at all. And in so So, there are different ways, you know, immediately, you know, when when this when betrayal is discovered, that, that you know, the person you could have the you could leave the relationship right there. And then and leave it behind is option number one, which however, you know, we understand it as a way to distance yourself from that incredible pain that you were in. But at the same time, it may not reflect what you how you had anticipated that relationship to go. So at the same time, that is an option. And I think a lot of times men are looked at if they would choose that. more light and more easy wood. I don't think that is the case. But I think that could be one of those myths that people say oh, you know, the crisis, which I don't think so from my practice or even from working with, you know, men in my in my in my practice, who are not dealing with this topic, but at the same time, it is always an option. To say, you could just leave that relationship behind. And, and, and move into a different, you know, relationship constellation, however, that does not complete and relieve the pain that people are in. The second option that there is, is to stay with the party who who was needing to do the repair work. And even if they are not doing the repair work, you would stay with it, because you feel yourself committed. But at the same time, you know, you can then in that point, say, this is you know, you need to grow, you need to recover, you need to do repair work, you can make requests, so that it doesn't see you needing to stay with someone who is not pursuing health and repair and growth. And then another option is that, you would take a little bit of a leaning back approach and watch what the other person does in terms of repairing. And then based on watching the repair and the growth, then you can make a decision at some point. And I would usually say to my clients to do set, three months, four months, six months to make a short term goal, to watch the other person's effort to repair. And if you have, then these data points coming in, such as the disclosure that's facilitated with another therapist, the ability to seek emotional restitution, comm then you can decide, you know, after that time of observing, that you would recommit yourself to that relationship. So it's more of a time, option three is more time of observation. And during which then you know, working on your own trigger management, again, not your fault, but that you're dealing with, understandably, taking good care of yourself, clearing out any any topics or things you want to work on, that would be the time to do that. And we'll see different needs when it comes to payroll quit, think they have the same needs, but they may may have a harder time. Conveying those needs, it may again be just very limited based on the minute just look at us, you know, the straight shooters, they have the Action List, but really the needs for safety, the need for honesty, the needs for compassion, they are that they don't have an easier to find ways to and to have those met. And that would be a part of work we would do to help them being really clear on these needs and to have a measurable outcome or a measurable tool to make. And to get in a healthy way. You know, not being it doesn't even have to be pushy, or it doesn't have to be you know, it can be really in that respectful, empathetic way of setting boundaries that protect the men's needs as much as it would help the person with the problem behavior. Get into the most. Be at her best. Absolutely. So, again, what some of those boundaries be. And I think that's a really good question because we can be as practical as possible on these boundaries, I mean boundaries on such a like such a psychological term, but even to say, Okay, what are these non negotiable things such as certain behaviors, needing to stop apps perhaps needing to be uninstalled from a from a phone or from a computer? It could be things such as communicating when the person with the problematic behaviors changes the location where they're at notifying each other when you're running late. It could be on boundaries around the city. Use just as you know, being with other people using emojis in online interactions, that that can be you know, I mean really that we will want to add there is a reset Even in the way of kominek. But there's a lot even around physical boundaries that are so important to I'm the one if I, if I want to have closes, I'm going to be the one initiating the touch. If I'm in my space, don't come in and interrupt me. But I need time to finish. And then I can recommit myself to some other thing to do. And also, in terms of when conversations about what happened, what time are they taking place in the daytime, you know, we all still need to, you know, make sure the kids are attended to going to work working from home. And so even keeping certain conversations to a certain time of the day, not later than maybe nine o'clock in the evening, can be a physical boundary, to help, you know, help, help keep or make a situation as healthy as possible. And then with that, there can be action steps we can put in, we can ask the significant other to stop a certain action, we can remove ourselves to increase space, you can have your privacy when you take a shower, or when you work out. You may sleep in another room that you as the partner can, can initiate even if your significant others response is not as as as understanding and as empathetic as we want it to be. And there's, you know, it's fun, same sounds funny again, for guys. They care about sexuality as much as we care as a woman that's value driven sexuality. And so even sexual boundaries can be to say that the initiate the sexuality as you feel fit, or as you feel that there's these outside boundaries of let's say, not having access to certain apps. So once that's put in place, and to even empower a guy to say, Yes, I, I am going to be the one who initiates I don't want you to come in, you're being suggested for Florida, that's too much for me, right now, I need to be the one initiating otherwise, I need to create the space. And so so we need to help with that. And last but not least, boundaries around communication. So for example, what to share with others, family members and friends, children. So that to be on the on the same page as nation will be shared. Well, goes into what to share, and have the share, to get the most bang for your buck, if you will. So that you're you're learning assertiveness and gentle assertiveness and behavior of requests that are that are done in a way that does not make her feel defensive, so that he's more likely to at least feel like she understood what he asked. And that can be tough, because you know, communication is tough when there's conflict anyway. And we all believe the conflict is natural and necessary. But when it's combined with betrayal, it's the worst kind of conflict because it throws anybody's brain offline. And so I love the fact that you talk about these behavioral requests, you know, I would like for you to or what I would like is or would you be willing to blank it really goes into a simple formula for being clear and direct about what you think how you feel and what you need. Now, I got a question Does your book does this talk is all about gay relationships. I started out with that the betrayal, trauma does not stop with, you know, ethnic background, sexual Oriente ation, so it has that at the beginning as a reference point, but there's no specific difference for heterosexual versus gay couples. And by the In the foreword, I really listed these different, you know, identities that we put out, then a fire is an unsafe for me. Okay. And I just there, there's many of these orientations that that are equally affected. And I think you're making good, pretty. So comes from a betrayal trauma. So that's that it's really hard even in the moment to say, Okay, I'm not at my best here. I don't even think I could take a no as an answer, right. So. So in these these interupts layers that comes with whether we look at the ethnic background, the orientation background, I mean, there's so many ways as to what makes these communists of communication, so what can that make, can make that so demanding or so, so challenging? And maybe the one thing to have in the back of your mind is that when you are not getting the best answer, or you still had an, you know, an argument, and you tried it, but it didn't quite work out. You're not alone in this, you know, that's why we want you to have a support group, or a therapist, who can help you with this, because it is the hardest thing to do the common occasion, and there's so much going on, and so much in, in, in change, so to speak. I know and since you and I both believe in that, would you go over the listening skills that you encourage anyone to use, whether the beat trade, or the betrayer? Absolutely. And I think, to look at it, even through the lens that we all want empathy, we all want to be having somebody who listens to us who put themselves into our shoes, what we are dealing with. And so, to have that in the back of your mind, and here, we're not saying that you, as the listening person have to go, always always in as a list. No, we're just saying that is one way to be in this communication and if if it's not, not developed enough that there is more resources we would want to put there. So, as a listening person, when you hear then the person share, keep in mind that the person's response is determined by their or by her current degree of power inside an ability to communicate only Kate. So her response is her side of the fence and in contrast, what you hear reflect your reality about the situation. So, you may have two different two different things that even come out as you as you have somebody communicate and you are in the listening mode. So consider then reflecting within yourself, what your reality looks like. And that may be that first maybe with with somebody, you know, in 12 step with a therapist where some somebody can slow that down and say, okay, when you tell me, Oh, I didn't use the car he, I made up that, you know, to to kind of really understand also what your feelings were, what your reality you were, when you know what happened and, you know, took place within you that there and as you want the increased lift and capacity, think even about positioning yourself and your body in a way that you will facing your partner and locate the partner and watch her expression. Maybe her feelings, body language and listen to the words Now, understandably that