Confidence. It’s near and dear to my heart these days. Confidence is defined as a feeling of trust in one’s abilities, qualities and judgments.
I was reminded recently as to the importance of confidence and being proactive in my own life to grasp more of it (more on that in the next blog post).
Confidence is stripped from women (along with dignity and honor to name a few) when they are betrayed.
I have worked with women for more than a decade now and while there are some things I expect to hear that are right under the surface – the level of grief, trying to understand the why behind his addiction (or sexual integrity issue), grappling with trust and forgiveness (the list goes on) – there are other deeper and more insidious effects that sometimes we don’t think about at first blush. I believe these deeper effects can really rattle our self-confidence.
Unaddressed Shame –
Early on in our recovery – we spent a lot of time focusing on the shame that Jason experienced, starting in childhood, that eventually became triggers that led him to choose to act out.
I as well was dealing with shame – and my shame had layers. There was the shame of coming to terms with the fact that I married a man with sexual integrity issues. The shame of this being my story. This caused me to hide and not want to share my ugly truth with anyone.
I also experienced shame because I really thought Jason only had eyes for me. And he was the first boy that I finally felt chosen by. Grappling with the fact that he chose me and many others caused me to feel unloveable and worthless.
The layers of shame look different for each of us. Sure, it almost always surfaces because of his choices. But it also can come up as women try to figure out if she should stay married to him. There can be shame in choosing to stay with someone that treated us this way – and even more so if he isn’t doing good recovery work. “Am I this pathetic to stay with him after all he has done and he is still treating me this way?”
Confidence wanes as the shame layers start to mount.
While this wasn’t so much the case for myself (we didn’t have children yet and I was the bread winner) – this is a massive issue for most of the women I support.
Working recovery is oftentimes a financial hardship. I remember stressing over how we would pay for the therapist that we were seeing twice a week.
Women affected by betrayal already feel powerless. If finances are tight – it limits the choices available and can cause her to feel even more stuck and powerless.
In addition, most women that reach out to me have sacrificed their careers in the name of their families. Some women could go back to their careers but have young children at home which makes the choice feel really hard. Others have been away from their careers for decades and would have to do loads of training to return to their professions of choice. It’s a hard call to make.
Feeling stuck from a financial standpoint can have massive effects on self-confidence. When we have agency – we have confidence. But without that agency – confidence can plummet.
Intuition Violations –
I know for myself – deep down I knew something wasn’t quite right when I was dating Jason. This persisted on our wedding day. I loved him, I knew I wanted to spend my life with him. But something deep down didn’t feel right. Ladies – our intuition doesn’t lead us astray.
During the first 3 years of our marriage – I continued to dismiss my intuition. I continued to experience an unsettled and nagging feeling that something was amiss. In order to stay sane – I either had to trust my gut and insist something was off or I had to divorce my gut to keep the peace between he and I. I chose the latter.
Once the ugly truth fully came out – my confidence in trusting my own judgement was completely shattered. How could I have done this to myself? How could I have married someone that would treat me this way? How did I not know?
My self-confidence crashed to an all time low.
Ladies – it’s not all bad news, though. Why, you ask? (I’m so glad you did!) Because I truly believe that each of us can walk through betrayal and toward our future with more confidence than we ever thought was possible. As Maya Angelou said – “Nothing can dim the light that shines from within.” As I think about this quote – with all due respect – I’d like to revise it. The light might dim, for a season, but ladies – it will never go out. We must fan the flame.
I’m curious if you can relate to any of these three areas that affect our confidence post betrayal. I’d also love to hear what else comes to mind for you that has made an impact on trusting yourself.
Stay tuned for some strategies to help us start to rebuild the confidence we so desperately need to repair. While this might be life work – I do think if we are intentional – we can make huge strides in this area rather quickly.
Love you ladies!
xo – Shelley