Most of us have felt the sting of deception. It could be a spouse who has an affair, a business deal gone wrong, or a trusted friend who took advantage in some way. Deception always includes lies and/or broken promises. Deception shatters dreams and hopes of what once was or what could have been, and it often involves multiple victims. It is a sin that always leaves pain in its wake and can suffocate a person’s soul.
Deception affects trust. I often hear someone who has been deceived say, “I will never trust again” and that “my walls are up even higher than before.” For people who’ve been through trauma and other deceptions in the past, this break of trust can set them back, and feeling like they have to start all over again. Each person they meet is now looked at through the lens of this previous deception. Even if trust can be rebuilt with new people, there are still cracks or small fissures in the heart that can be opened over and over again.
Deception affects self-worth, often resulting in self-blame. Phrases such as, “How could I have been so stupid to be taken like this?” are said over and over again. Our minds replay everything that was ever said and done in the relationship to find the missing red flags. When the deception involves a spouse or another important relationship, we often find that we so wanted to believe this other person that we were wiling to overlook a lot of things. Self-blame and that “stupid feeling” are intensified when we tell others and then hear, “Well, I could have told you that this would happen” or “I saw a lot of signs, but I knew you wouldn’t listen to me.” Criticism, admonition, and judgment by others doesn’t help.
Deception also brings feelings of grief and anger, often at the same time. People are angry to be deceived, but yet when that “someone” is a person they loved or had a close relationship with, this anger is often wrapped in grief. We can be angry as hell one second, and crying uncontrollably the next, and then kicking ourselves for crying over the person who caused the deception. Needless to say, our thoughts are all over the place.
So how do we find healing for our suffocating souls? The first step is to talk and cry with trusted friends or family. These are the people who show you empathy, not judgment, and whose counsel you respect. You need to process what happened, and talking will help you sort through often jumbled thoughts in your brain. Tears are equally therapeutic as they allow you to release emotions. You can also journal your thoughts, and if you cry while journaling, so much the better.
The second step is to consider professional help. This may be a mental health counselor or a spiritual advisor who can guide you through the mental heartbreak, and if necessary, a lawyer to guide you through any legal ramifications.
The third step is to stop beating yourself up. Those who often set to deceive others are usually very good at what they do. They will play on your emotions, get you to trust them, and slowly pull you into their web of deceit, and by the time you realize what has happened, the damage has been done. Unfortunately, most of us know someone else who has been deceived. It’s a tremendous sin perpetrated on the innocent.
Finally, healing has to include forgiveness, for both yourself and the person who hurt you. I realize that forgiving the person who hurt you seems to be an impossible feat, and some may even wonder why the person whose ploy was deception should even receive any forgiveness. My answer is simple. Until you can forgive and release this person from your life, this person will continue to live rent-free in your head. For those of you with faith, prayer and applying the religious principles of faith will be helpful.
If you are struggling with the effects of deception and need to talk to someone, please give me a call. I understand. Jane McGill Clinical Counseling, 720-707-9119.