Our mind health Q&A columnist Athena Lazarides is a qualified psychologist and the author of You’ve Got This. She’s on a mission to help you clarify your purpose so you can move onwards and upwards in your life. You can see her work here.
This week, she received a question from Tanya. See what she wanted help with:
This past weekend I discovered that my fiancé has been sleeping with my sister. I’m absolutely shattered and feel like my whole world has come crumbling down. If he had slept with some random person, it would be upsetting – but my sister… I’m heartbroken betrayed and angry! What did I do wrong? I have no idea how to handle this because neither of them know that I know. How would you suggest I confront this? – Tanya
What a terrible thing to experience. I hope that you’re taking care of yourself during this time of upheaval. As for how to confront this betrayal, I would recommend having someone there to support you during the actual confrontation. You don’t need to face this alone – and it’s important that you allow others to support you during this time. This has been an earth-shattering break of trust by two fundamental people in your life. You have every right to feel angry and heartbroken. You may experience waves of denial, anger, grief and self-doubt. In essence, what you’ve experienced is almost like a death so allow yourself time to grieve the loss and betrayal as you would a death. Your question ‘What did I do wrong?’ highlights self-blame and self-doubt. My answer to that is, what could you have possibly done to them that would justify this kind of betrayal? You cannot control the behaviour of other people; all you can do is become aware of your role in allowing people (especially those closest to you) to treat you like this. I recommend working with a psychologist who can help you uncover the internal beliefs that may be influencing you at this time. Moving forward, know that you have the inner power to create and maintain trusting, satisfying, loving relationships. It may take some self-work – but that’s better than being in an unhappy marriage. When it comes to the moment of confrontation, know that you already have all the internal resources available to you to get through it. You are stronger, and more powerful and worthy than you know. This experience may just be a harsh wake-up call in remembering that.