The Uncomfortable Road – 8 Lessons Learned While Healing From Betrayal Trauma

My family and I enjoy visiting National Parks, and often our vacations will involve a destination to one of these beautifully preserved spots in my country.

On a recent trip to Southern Utah (where there are numerous parks) I started paying attention to the roads inside the different parks. Mountainous roads are never my favorite; I get carsick on winding roads, and I have a pretty strong fear of heights. But I wear motion sickness
bracelets to help prevent car sickness, and I close my eyes as we go around the turns near the edge, because in order to get to some of the most breathtaking places in a park (and sometimes to get anywhere in a park) you have to drive the uncomfortable road.

Several of the winding roads I noticed on this trip were carved into the mountainside, and in some places you could see evidence of where workers had used dynamite to blast their way through solid rock. I began to imagine the process of creating the road; how it would have looked, what it would have felt like.  A huge, thunderous explosion, and the sudden silence that comes after such a loud report. Smoke, dust, and debris clouding the air so thick you can’t see or breathe.When the smoke dissipates and the dust settles, you look around and see boulders of all sizes in front of you where you used to see solid mountain. Some of the boulders are just rocks. Even pebbles. Small enough for you to pick up with one hand and clear out of the way. Some need two arms and all your strength, and some are so large there is no way you can move them on your own.

So, with your fellow workers you use the machinery available to you and remove the largest boulders. Sometimes that means blasting them into smaller pieces to make them possible to move. Or sometimes it means bringing in huge pieces of machinery to lift what no human, alone or with others, can possibly lift.

The whole time you are laboring to move these boulders, you can look further down the road and see that though the boulders are blocking the path, the mountain no longer is. You can see a way through.

When you have done the hard work of clearing the debris from the explosion you can then lay the road. And that road takes you to places that simultaneously speak to your soul and leave you speechless. Places that testify of a Grand Creator, a Higher Power who had a hand in this beauty. Places that are worth going because when you see them you are filled with a sense of awe, wonder, and unspeakable peace.

In pondering the creation of that road I was able to make the correlation to my experience with my own recovery. My husband and I had traveled on our road in life together and were butting up against the mountain, though I didn’t realize it. Years of not having a strong emotional connection with my spouse had made me blind and numb, and I didn’t see how little progress we were making on our life journey, or how my reaction to this lack of connection was causing pain for myself and others around me.

My Higher Power stepped in and set the dynamite on our path.

 

I can vividly remember the day I found evidence of my husband’s addiction, though I didn’t realize an addiction was what we were dealing with at the time. What I found was the tip of a giant iceberg, at the time I had no idea how much I didn’t know.

I just knew life as I knew it was gone.

It truly was an explosion, and just like the description above, after I confronted him and told him I knew he was lying to me (a HUGE, thunderous explosion!) there was silence as I retreated into myself. I didn’t speak to him, other than to say I needed him to tell me the truth, which he was unable to do for quite some time.

I was barely able to interact with my children, it took all I had to just meet their basic needs. I was in shock, the life I thought I had was gone in a heartbeat.

The confusion, pain, grief, and numbness clouded the air and I couldn’t see a way ahead.

I could barely see to the next moment. The dust slowly settled as I began to acclimate to this new, pain filled reality. I looked out on the path and all I could see was a way blocked by boulders. The path seemed so cluttered with debris that I couldn’t even contemplate a way through.

After some time my husband disclosed some of his addiction behaviors, which was another explosion that turned my world upside down again. I can now see how that conversation was akin to one of the huge boulders being blasted into smaller pieces, clearing the way so we could move forward. That doesn’t mean it was easy. Even a planned explosion can make your ears ring and can leave you disoriented and confused. And in the case of this disclosure I was definitely left reeling, spinning, and in so much pain, especially because I had little support.

But it also was a step toward honest communication, a step toward getting a giant boulder out of my road.

I started therapy, and in working with my counselor I began to see the boulders that I could move on my own. I began to attend SAL meetings, at the urging of my counselor. There I found fellow workers who were clearing their own way. Some of them had already cleaned up their path, paved the road, and were describing the beautiful views they could see. Hearing how they once felt all that I was feeling and were able to make it through gave me hope. 

Since that painful, but crucial day of discovery and in the time that followed, I’ve learned so much that has blessed my life.

      1. I learned about healthy boundaries and chose to learn how to set them.
      2. I learned how to turn to my Higher Power, and what it truly meant to have my God at my center.
      3. I learned how to get in touch with my own emotions, and to face the reality that for years I had been numbing myself so I wouldn’t feel the pain of my husband’s detachment.
      4. I learned about working the steps and the power they had to work change in my life when I surrendered to the process and to the God of my understanding.
      5. I learned about the beauty of surrender and about working with a sponsor.
      6. I learned a better way to be, a way to live life with the blinders off. I can show up in my relationships and be emotionally present. I am acknowledging my feelings and they are no longer “coming out sideways” and hurting my children or others around me.
      7. I learned to be honest with myself and with God, and the strength and peace I have gained through having an emotionally honest relationship with Him is worth what I have gone through.
      8. I learned how to be okay with being on the uncomfortable road, because traveling this road will take me where I want to go. This uncomfortable recovery road, with twists and turns and steep drop offs, is the road that leads me to unspeakable wonder as I take in the power of an infinite being working daily miracles in my life. I choose to travel the uncomfortable road, because this is where I find joy.

As I learned these new tools I was able to use them (sometimes with the help of my sponsor, other group members, or with my counselor) to clear my pathway. One rock at a time, sometimes even one little speck of dirt at a time, I was able to move so many obstacles in my path. I grew stronger as I worked to lift the boulders of resentment, denial, justification, and so many more. Some boulders I couldn’t move on my own, but as I surrendered them I watched in awe as my Higher Power stepped in and moved them with His infinite strength.

    • And now, as I stand and look down the road I can see the way through.

Where a solid mountain once was, blue skies can be seen. I have been able to start paving the path that will take me to the breathtaking views. In fact, as I look through the passageway that God has created for me, I can already see the wonder and beauty. I can already feel the peace that comes when I see His creations; I see it every day as I look at what my life has become.

Is your way blocked? Have you felt that thunderous explosion that leaves you feeling more lost than you’ve ever been? Are you not sure if recovery is what you need in your life?

I promise you there is a way through to the beauty on the other side.

Come join us in a meeting and see. Nobody can lift all those boulders alone.

Your sister in recovery,

Amy

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