Remember the comic strip about Charlie Brown? The lovable, awkward kid who was forever hopeful, and kept on going with life no matter what?
How about Lucy van Pelt, remember her? The crabby, bossy girl in the Peanuts gang, who was keen on handing out her 5 cent psychiatrist’s advice to whoever would listen.
When Lucy and Charlie Brown would play football together, Lucy would set up the football for Charlie Brown to kick. Just when Charlie Brown would run up to launch the ball, she’d quickly snap it back at just the last second.
This is what betrayal is.
According to Dr. Patrick Carnes, betrayal is a seductive deception. It draws us in. Just when we commit to something, that something gets snatched away.
Betrayal can be at the root of the trauma we experience in our relationships, where trust gets snatched away unexpectedly.
It hurts because our brains are hardwired for strong relational bonds and for trust.
It’s through the trusting relationships we have with the important people in our life that we form trust with our self.
When we experience betrayal as as children, we unconsciously think something to the effect of, “If I can’t trust this important person in my life to be there for me – support me, protect me, love me – there must be something wrong with me.”
After we’ve been through unexpected painful betrayals, we can learn to not be there for our self either. As a result, disconnection from our self is born.
This amounts to a sad loss in two ways: One, the loss of connection to our self, and, two, the loss of connection to the important other.
This breeds internal pain. It can lead to a whole array of troubling ways of forgetting or blocking out the pain through self-destructive habits like alcohol and drug use, gambling, disordered eating, spending too much time video gaming, or over shopping, to name a few.
How do we ignite the connection to our self again?
By taking the time to listen to our body as a way of building connection to our self. The two are interconnected. Here are a few ways of doing so:
We can listen to our body in a Yoga class. And tune in to how our body feels in a posture. Then adjust the body if needed to create a greater sense of comfort there. We can listen to our body even before we go into a posture, to see if it’s the right place to be in that moment. Listen, honor, yield.
We can listen to our body at the dinner table. Am I hungry? How much do I need to eat to feel nourished? When am I full? How does this baked potato feel in my belly? This cup of coffee? This green salad? We can listen to our body and how it feels in relation to the foods we eat, and, respond to what we hear by either eating more or less of that food. Again, listen, honor, yield.
We can listen to our body through the talk therapy process. What’s happening in my body as I speak my truth? Do I numb out completely? Am I overwhelmed? Can I be present to my experience?
Betrayal through trauma disconnects us from our body and our self. Taking the time to listen to our body, honor what we hear, and yield to this wisdom, is a way of building a relationship with our body and our self, again. It’s a simple yet profound pathway to healing.