Being Authentic

Not Pretending, Being Authentic and Owning Your Experience

The Power of Authenticity on the Betrayal Trauma Recovery Journey

You’re not going to heal your relationship by pretending. This vital insight points to a common challenge on the betrayal trauma recovery journey: feeling like you have to hide your true feelings and “pretend” everything is okay. Attempting to keep the peace through inauthenticity hinders true healing and self-discovery after trauma.

What does it mean to be authentic? Why is it so critical on the path to recovery? And how do we embrace authenticity when relationships feel unsafe? Exploring these questions reveals why honoring self and speaking truth ultimately rebuilds connection, no matter how others respond initially.

Why Authenticity Matters

Authenticity simply means expressing what is genuine, real and true of our experience. After betrayal trauma, many women unconsciously minimize difficult emotions like anger, hurt, fear, and pain in an attempt to keep the peace. These feelings get suppressed or hidden out of a desire to avoid conflict or rejection. But pretending wounds are not there never resolves them.

You’re not going to heal your relationship by pretending. Getting real about what we think and feel is difficult but so necessary. Rather than expecting others to “fix” us, we have to risk vulnerability in sharing where we truly are inside. Only then can relationships rebuild through understanding each other’s inner worlds. Hiding parts of yourself ultimately disconnects you from yourself and your partner. Being vulnerable and authentic reopens the door to intimacy through sharing every part of your full and flawed humanity.

The Risks of Pretending

When we pretend inner wounds don’t exist, several consequences unfold. First, suppressed emotions don’t dissipate just because they go unexpressed. They often intensify over time or leak out sideways in harmful ways, destroying trust and deep connection. 

Second, authentic parts of self feel betrayed when continuously denied expression. This plants seeds of self-rejection that bloom into damaged self-worth and esteem. 

Third, hiding our truth unconsciously trains partners to relate only to false outer shells of who we are, starving real intimacy.

And finally, by pretending to be fine when we aren’t, we dismiss opportunities for partners to truly support us in our pain. We cut ourselves off from caring concern and the chance for relationships to grow through meeting real needs. For all these reasons, despite the vulnerability it requires, dropping the veil of pretending ultimately mends more than it breaks. Honoring where we genuinely are is the firmest foundation for rebuilding shattered connection.

Getting Curious About You

Stepping into authenticity requires insight. Attempting to process intense feelings alone often leaves them reactive and harder for others to digest. A simple but powerful exercise introduces exploring different facets of self through drawing four circles on paper. The first circle at the top left represents your “higher self” – the inherent wholeness and compassionate wisdom within. The top right circle is your “brain”, the bottom left your “body”, and the bottom right your “emotions.” Now draw a larger circle around the brain, body, and emotions circles. 

This illustrates the concept that while emotions, body, and thought patterns make up day-to-day life, they are not the entirety of who we are. Our higher self stands outside that, observing but not defined by passing storms. When difficult emotions arise, pause before reacting. Get curious about these “feeling parts” – what might they need or be remembering from the past? Access your higher compassion, understanding that these parts want to protect us, not create harm. This simple framework creates space between impulse and response, empowering clarity and self-trust.

As we inquire within, we may uncover stories of childhood rejection or abandonment underlying current pain. Different parts of us carry implicit memories of unmet needs now being triggered in relationships. As we listen to these parts with empathy and understand their origins, they relax their desperate calls for attention. We can then express their core truths to partners, not with accusation but instead with insight and care for our own woundedness. This level of self-awareness and ownership is essential for authentically engaging intimate relationships around emotional injuries.

Owning Our Experience

A major roadblock to sharing authentically is the unconscious hope that by expressing our pain, others will make us feel better by fixing, rescuing, or quickly soothing us. It feels vulnerable exposing wounds only to be met without instant understanding or relief. However, the role of a partner is to create space for us to process our inner world, not magically resolve it. The journey requires taking ownership of our own emotions. We will know we are on the path to connecting with our own feelings when we can say,  “Here is what I have discovered about my hurt. Here is how I’ve been impacted.” When we do the work of inquiring inwardly first, we release others from having to take the pain away.

Importantly, we also release ourselves from the false belief we are only healed through external resolution. We reclaim authority to validate our own experiences, regardless of how others respond. We can compassionately embrace our own process. We reconnect to wholeness through self-understanding, not just supportive relationships. Even when trust in others feels shattered, we know we are able to trust ourselves.

The Confidence of Authenticity

Owning and articulating the reality of who we are and what we feel is profoundly empowering. Rather than looking outside for stability, we find solid ground through expressing our authentic self. Practiced authenticity builds self-esteem and authenticity builds confidence from the inside out. We release the painful pressure to be someone we are not—the perfect partner who never hurts, never doubts, never breaks. We uncover the strong, grounded and transparent self waiting underneath fear-based pretending.

This hard-won confidence provides a foundation for relating to others that seeking validation through people-pleasing never can. When we know we can handle our own internal intensity, we’re no longer desperate for partners to instantly affirm or calm us. We can trust our ability to navigate pain when it arises. Of course support still matters deeply, but by owning our inner process first, we engage that support from empowerment rather than powerlessness. We extend grace knowing relationships are strengthened through understanding, not controlling, each other’s journeys.

Keep Practicing

Authenticity is strengthened through continual practice. It is hard, brave work to unearth buried truths. But consistently making time for inward inquiry and outward transparent sharing rewires old patterns. We build trust in ourselves and in our partners through small moments of vulnerability. Eventually emotional pretense falls away as we settle into the freedom of our real and whole self.

The Journey Inward Before Outward

The call to authenticity reveals why expressing truth provides so much more depth and rich relating than pretense ever can. It offers hope that dropping the mask to honor where we truly are opens avenues to wholeness, intimacy and trust. Healing after betrayal trauma begins when we travel the difficult road inward to compassionately unearth our buried pains, fears, and shame. Only after listening to these wounded parts and understanding their origins can we share their truths with partners from a centered, confident place.

We learn our relationships cannot instantly resolve our inner world; support comes by making space for us to take ownership. We find that no matter how others respond, we reclaim power to validate our own experiences along the way. This internally rooted sense of wholeness allows us to stand firmly in our truth moving forward. We release inauthentic pretending as we rebuild self-trust.

What we heal inwardly we ultimately heal outwardly. By courageously diving below pretense into shadowy caverns where authentic wounds wait, we open portals for light and fresh air to flood where darkness once reigned. The result is waking up parts of ourselves  long numbed or denied. Now we meet each other awake and engaged. The gift of owning and expressing what is real could not be more precious on the journey to revival.

Key Takeaways:

  • Suppressing difficult emotions disconnects us; authentic sharing is the path in
  • Exploring our emotions builds clarity to share feelings compassionately
  • We own our inner process; relationships can hold space but not “fix” us
  • Self-validation allows us to stay grounded when others cannot meet our need
  • Owning our authentic truth builds unshakeable confidence
  • Small vulnerable risks slowly rebuild secure bonds
  • Healing starts by honoring wounded parts of self with empathy
  • What we heal inwardly we ultimately heal outwardly in relationships

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