Breaking Free: How to Heal from Betrayal When Struggling with Codependency (5 Steps)

By Briana MacWilliam MPS, ATR-BC, LCAT.

Betrayal can be one of the most painful experiences anyone can go through, but for those who struggle with codependency, the pain can be even more intense. Codependency is a pattern of behavior where one prioritizes the needs and feelings of others over their own, often to their own detriment. When this pattern is triggered by betrayal, the emotional toll can be overwhelming.

However, it’s important to remember that healing from betrayal is possible, even for those who struggle with codependency. By taking the time to understand the impact of betrayal on codependency and taking active steps toward healing, it’s possible to overcome the pain and build healthier, more fulfilling relationships.

In this article we will explore 5 steps to help you heal from betrayal, and a case example of what recovery will look like. 

So let’s dive in!

5 Steps to Heal From Betrayal: 

Step 1: Acknowledge the Pain

The first step in healing from betrayal when struggling with codependency is to acknowledge the pain. This means identifying and labeling the emotions that you’re feeling and allowing yourself to grieve.

It’s important to give yourself permission to feel the full range of emotions that come with betrayal. Whether it’s anger, sadness, or confusion, each emotion is valid and deserves to be acknowledged. Remember that healing is a process, and it’s okay to take your time to work through your emotions.

Step 2: Practice Self-Care

Self-care is essential in the healing process, particularly for those who struggle with codependency. Creating a self-care routine can help manage the emotional and physical toll that comes with betrayal.

Self-care can look different for everyone, but some examples include exercise, meditation, journaling, or simply taking a bath. The key is to engage in activities that bring joy and relaxation, and to prioritize rest and nutrition.

By taking care of yourself, you’re sending a message to yourself that you are worthy of love and care, and that your needs matter.

Step 3: Seek Support

Betrayal can make you feel isolated and alone, but seeking support from trusted friends and family members can be a powerful tool in the healing process. Additionally, joining a support group for codependency or betrayal, or considering therapy, can also be helpful.

Talking to others who have gone through similar experiences can be validating and provide a sense of community. A therapist can provide a safe and non-judgmental space to explore your emotions and develop coping skills.

Remember, seeking support is not a sign of weakness, but a courageous step towards healing.

Step 4: Work on Building Healthy Boundaries

Codependency often involves a lack of boundaries, which can make the pain of betrayal even more intense. Building healthy boundaries is crucial in the healing process, as it helps to protect yourself from being enmeshed in unhealthy relationships.

Identifying and addressing codependent behaviors is the first step in building healthy boundaries. This means recognizing when you’re putting someone else’s needs before your own and learning to say “no” when necessary. Creating and enforcing boundaries is also essential, as is communicating your needs and expectations in relationships.

By building healthy boundaries, you’re creating a foundation for healthy relationships built on mutual respect, communication, and empathy.

Step 5: Cultivate Forgiveness

Forgiveness can be a powerful tool in the healing process. Recognizing the power of forgiveness, practicing forgiveness, and letting go of resentment and bitterness are all important steps in healing from betrayal when struggling with codependency.

Forgiveness does not mean condoning the actions of the person who betrayed you, but rather, it means releasing yourself from the emotional burden of holding onto anger and resentment. Forgiveness isn’t really something you can summon at will. It is more like, as you shift focus and invest in your own healing and well-being, eventually forgiveness seeps into your being, like the sun warming a room. 

It takes time and effort, but it’s a key component in the healing process.

Lisa’s Journey With Recovering From Betrayal and Codependency:

Meet Lisa, a successful lawyer in her mid-thirties. Lisa had always been a driven and high-achieving person, but she struggled with codependency in her personal relationships. She had a pattern of putting other people’s needs before her own, even when it was to her detriment.

One day, Lisa discovered that her husband had been cheating on her for months with a colleague at work. The betrayal hit her hard, and she felt like her whole world had fallen apart. She struggled to come to terms with the fact that her husband had been unfaithful, and she blamed herself for not being a good enough wife.

Lisa’s codependent tendencies kicked into overdrive, and she found herself obsessing over her husband’s affair. She constantly checked his phone and email, and she couldn’t stop thinking about the other woman. She tried to fix things between her and her husband, even though he had shown no remorse for his actions.

After a few months of this pattern, Lisa realized that she needed to take a step back and focus on herself. She started seeing a therapist who specialized in codependency, and she joined a support group for women who had experienced infidelity.

Through therapy and the support group, Lisa began to understand that her codependent tendencies were not her fault, and that she could learn to set healthy boundaries in her relationships. She learned that she didn’t have to accept being treated poorly, and that it was okay to put her own needs first.

It wasn’t an easy journey, and Lisa had some setbacks along the way. But with the help of her therapist, the support of her group, and her own determination, she slowly began to heal. She learned to practice self-care, to set healthy boundaries, and to cultivate self-compassion.

Eventually, Lisa decided to end her marriage. It was a difficult decision, but she knew that she deserved to be with someone who respected and valued her. She moved on with her life, focusing on her career and her own happiness.

Today, Lisa is in a much better place. She’s still learning to navigate her codependent tendencies, but she’s much more aware of them now. She’s in a healthy and loving relationship, and she’s grateful for the lessons she learned from her experience with betrayal and codependency.

Final Thoughts:

Remember, healing from betrayal when struggling with codependency is a journey, and it’s important to be patient and kind to yourself along the way. It’s okay to have setbacks and difficult moments, but it’s important to keep moving forward and practicing self-care, seeking support, building healthy boundaries, and cultivating forgiveness.

In addition to these steps, there are some additional strategies that can help with the healing process. For example, practicing gratitude can help shift your focus away from the pain of betrayal and towards the positive aspects of your life. Writing a gratitude journal, listing things you’re grateful for each day, or simply taking a moment to appreciate the beauty of nature are all ways to practice gratitude.

Similarly, practicing mindfulness can help you stay present in the moment and reduce anxiety and stress. Mindfulness involves paying attention to your thoughts, feelings, and sensations without judgment. This can be done through meditation, deep breathing exercises, or simply taking a few minutes each day to focus on your senses.

Finally, practicing self-compassion is essential in the healing process. This means treating yourself with kindness and understanding, and acknowledging that you’re doing the best you can. Self-compassion involves acknowledging your emotions without judgment and giving yourself permission to make mistakes.

In conclusion, healing from betrayal when struggling with codependency is possible. By acknowledging the pain, practicing self-care, seeking support, building healthy boundaries, cultivating forgiveness, and practicing gratitude, mindfulness, and self-compassion, you can overcome the emotional toll of betrayal and build healthier, more fulfilling relationships. Remember, healing is a journey, and it takes time and effort, but it’s worth it. You deserve to heal and to live a life filled with love, happiness, and peace.

In addition to being a regular contributor to the #1 Online Magazine For Codependency Recovery, Briana MacWilliam is an author, educator and licensed and board-certified creative arts therapist with more than 15 years in the field, helping adults struggling with insecure attachment attract and/or cultivate loving relationships. Additional certifications in Reiki healing, EFT Tapping, and integrative somatic trauma therapy, inform her trademarked method, which utilizes a psycho spiritual approach to healing mind body and spirit. To learn more about her online courses, check out her website:

2 Responses

  1. Regina says:

    Thank you for being who you are at this time my first visit to this site

  2. Gertrude says:

    so much harder when it is one’s own adult children that abandon you whilst surviving CPTSD/DID. Even judging you for being traumatized. Suspecting his daughter may even be a Narcissistic personality disorder as most likely was his ex. Now with a new partner in a symbiotic relationship not investing anything in me his mother.

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