The Cell

Women suffering from Betrayal Trauma all describe it in different ways–mostly through the use of metaphors. I’ve heard it described as being pushed into a dark, murky pit that can’t be climbed out of, or as being run over by a semi-truck with their husbands behind the wheel, or as being abruptly yanked into the mud when they thought they were happily walking along the road of life.

I related to all these metaphors, especially in the beginning. I very much felt like I had been yanked violently out of my secure world, run over and then pushed into a pit left to die. I felt like I would die. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know how to live anymore. My world was taken from me and this new one was terrifying, dark and strange. I was naked and alone in the darkness.

Surprisingly, the pain doesn’t actually kill you. One thing that has been ingrained in me from my early childhood was that my Heavenly Father, my Higher Power, wants me to be happy. I am here on this earth to have joy. Betrayal Trauma would not win–pain would not destroy me–I promised myself this. And out of grit and grace I’ve worked my recovery as best as I could to get to the place where I am now.

It’s been nearly four months. I’m at the beginning still, but November 8th seems like decades ago. Heartache has dragged out time for me. But I am grateful to look back and see the progress I have made. It’s one baby step at a time, sometimes one inch at a time.

The trauma has morphed for me a little. Where before I felt immense emotional sorrow and was left to sob in tears, I now find myself full of rage when the trigger strikes.

I stayed up late last night, unable to sleep, mulling over my rage and how I could describe it if someone were to ask me. I pictured myself being dragged, kicking and screaming by the collar of my shirt and then thrown into a cold, dark cement floored cell with black iron bars shutting me in with a slam of metal. I run to those bars and shake them. I shake them as hard and as fast as I can, yelling until the breath has seeped from my lungs and I’m left in a corner to sit and stare. I don’t have energy to sob. I just sit. I let the tears rolls down my cheeks. I don’t want to wipe them away. They deserve to be there.

That’s how I feel in this phase of my trauma. Triggers strike or a memory or thought surfaces and I’m thrown into an iron cage of rage.

Most of the time, Simon stands outside the bars offering me something: a blanket, a drink, a note, a tool to break the bars. He’s trying to be kind. He wants to help me. Sometimes I let him. Sometimes I don’t.

The injustice of my situation is incomprehensible to me. And so I think that’s why I stay in there for awhile. I have to sit in that dark corner and think a million thoughts until I can accept all over again the facts of my life and Simon’s.

And then when I’m ready, I ask Heavenly Father if He’ll bail me out. If He’ll give me the key.

And then He reminds me that the cell has always been open. My Savior, Jesus Christ, unlocked it for me long ago. All I have to do is Rise. Walk. Be Free.

I don’t know why I forget that. I have made covenants to always remember Him. But because I am imperfect, because my faith is imperfect, because I suffer of the flesh and of the spirit, I do forget.

Remembering my Savior, remembering He IS the key, is the very keystone of my recovery. Without Him, my recovery and all my efforts to heal are for nothing. There cannot be healing without the Healer. There can be no redemption without the Redeemer.

He restores my soul and frees me from the bondage of my cell.

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6 thoughts on “The Cell

  1. great post! that hardest part is: i have a testimony, a strong one, that we have been set free through the Atonement, yet why don’t I feel that most of the time? Why don’t I feel free? Why does is hurt so badly? Why can’t Christ take it all away? I feel strengthened in my trials, my back has been made stronger to bear them, but the pain is intense, and in that way I have been “disappointed” in what I thought the Atonement was. I’m still learning and I will not give up.

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    1. It is REALLY difficult. I wish it was just taken away. I’ve mentioned this before I believe, but my stake president told me, “The Atonement heals all wounds…but it takes time.” It was very validating. He wasn’t telling me to just get over it and believe in the Atonement. He was telling me that as I applied the Atonement to my life and situation DAILY that over time, the Atonement would heal my wounds. Unfortunately, I don’t think the pain will ever be completely taken away..at least not until heaven. The wound may heal but I think it will still throb now and then. Read Elder Holland’s 1981 BYU-Idaho speech entitled, “Will we finish the temple, Brother Brigham?” It was very helpful. And real. Hugs to you Lorena.

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  2. I’m home from church once again today. I keep saying I will try again next week and I can’t do it. I’ve always been active. I’ve read a couple of your posts and you have said everything that I am feeling. I wish I had your faith because mine is lost. The sorrow is more than I can bear. I’ve been suffering in silence while everyone continues to believe my husband is so wonderful. I can’t be at church for another person to tell me how beautiful my family is and how I’m so lucky to have a husband like mine. October 25, 2014. Everything stopped that night. That was the night he decided he had to unload his conscience on me. It came out of nowhere. I’ve stopped progressing, I don’t know what to do anymore, I don’t know if I love him anymore, I don’t know how to forgive, I feel a radio silence with my Father in Heaven. I feel so lost and alone. I don’t have a desire to forgive. I live in that cage you spoke about. I step out while I have to be mom. I paste on the smile and play and do my duties, but as soon as they are in bed- I usually crack. I cry everyday. Multiple times. I don’t know this person I’ve become… I’m very sorry for your trials, but I’m glad to know that there is someone that understands. Thank you.

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    1. Jaime, your comment so beautifully and heartbreakingly detail exactly what betrayal trauma does to us. Essentially, we lose ourselves in it. It takes everything. My heart is breaking for you. But know that your feelings are NORMAL and OK!!!! You are traumatized. And so you need recovery as much as your husband does. I am so glad you commented. And yes, you are NEVER alone. Love and Virtual Casseroles, Anne Girl

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