Brannon Patrick is an expert in the field of Betrayal Trauma, and he plays the role of “the Expert” in the popular podcast “The Betrayed, The Addict and The Expert.” His podcast follows the recovery journey of Ashlynn and Coby, a couple who have been able to move forward as a result of the pain of betrayal and addiction. Brannon has developed several group systems and programs for addiction recovery. He has specialized training as a Certified Sexual Addiction Therapist (CSAT) which has helped him learn how to treat sexual addiction and betrayal trauma. Brannon is also trained in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Brannon is the co-clinical director and owner of TherapyUTAH and he has developed several programs to help individuals, and couples, heal from betrayal, as well as addiction.
You can subscribe to the podcast wherever you get your podcasts, and you can learn more about Brannon, Ashlynn, and Coby at https://www.betrayedaddictedexpert.com/ and Brannon has additional materials and programs on his personal website https://www.brannonpatrick.com/
Visit http://tonyoverbay.com and sign up to learn more about Tony’s upcoming book: He’s a Porn Addict, Now What? An Expert and a Former Addict Answer Your Questions. And you can find out more about Tony’s pornography recovery program The Path Back by visiting http://pathbackrecovery.com
The Virtual Couch is sponsored by http://Betterhelp.com/virtualcouch Betterhelp.com is the world’s leading provider of online therapy. Their mission is to make professional counseling accessible, affordable, and convenient, so anyone who struggles with life’s challenges can get help, anytime, anywhere. Head to http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch for 10% off your first month of services.
Here’s is a transcript of the episode:
Tony: Hey, everybody, coming up on today’s episode of The Virtual Couch, this is one I’ve been waiting for for a long time. Today, we’re going to talk about the concept of betrayal trauma, and I have an expert that is coming on, an expert and also somebody that I’m beginning to call my new best friend. His name is Brannon Patrick and he is the host of the very, very popular podcast, The Betrayed, The Addicted, and The Expert, where he plays the role of the expert along with Ashlynn and Coby, who were they betrayed and the addicted. And they do an amazing job having very real conversations about the concept of betrayal trauma, but we’re going to cover a lot of that today coming up on The Virtual Couch.
Hey, before we get to the podcast today, one of my favorite things, reading listener email; here we go. “Dear Tony! First off, I’m a big fan of the podcast, you put the fun in mental health. Alright, I’ll get right to the point and I’ll be honest, how about that? I’m one of those who has emailed you in the past to see if you’re accepting new clients. I’ve never been to therapy and I’ve honestly felt a connection with you through my ear buds, and you’ve truly given me so many useful tools. But as my emotional baseline continues to rise, I now realize a lot of things that I felt I couldn’t get over in my life that I now can. Now I’m in a place where I want to do the work on myself, so I need a therapist; I never thought I would say that. I figured you were busy, but right about the time you emailed me back to let me know that you couldn’t fit me in, but PS, you did it in a very nice way. You also started advertising betterhelp.com, so maybe I’m being a bit corny, but I sort of viewed that as a sign. So, I signed up through your link, don’t worry, betterhelp.com/virtualcouch so I can get 10% off my first month of service, and within 48 hours, I was meeting with a therapist online. I love my therapist, she’s amazing, she knows acceptance and commitment therapy, and PS, now I have her listening to The Virtual Couch. So, thank you for the podcast and thank you for advertising betterhelp.com. I can’t imagine where I would be if I hadn’t started listening to the podcast and if I hadn’t started using betterhelp.com, of course,/virtualcouch. Oh, and I heard you say on the episode with your daughter and then I think on the one with your neighbors, Nicole and Ainsley, that you’d love to get your wife on the podcast, I would love that too; just putting that out there.”
Alright, thank you for the email, and yes, I would love to have her come on too. Right now, I believe she said that she would consider it somewhere around our 50th anniversary. And so, to put that into perspective, when this podcast comes out, we’re going to be within a day or 2 of celebrating our 29th anniversary, so got a little bit more time to get… to get her on. But I would highly encourage you to do what this listener has done. Go check out what over 500,000 people have already done before you, sign up right now we’re going to betterhelp.com/virtualcouch and get the help that you need or that you didn’t even know that you needed. What are you waiting for? They have a broad range of expertise in their counselor network, which might not be locally available in many areas. The service is available for clients worldwide, you can log on to your account anytime and send a message to your counselor, and you’ll get timely and thoughtful responses and you can schedule the video or phone sessions so you don’t ever have to wait in an uncomfortable waiting room as you do with traditional therapy; at that point, I do want to add that I think that my waiting room is… is very comfy. Betterhelp.com will assess your needs, match you with your own licensed professional therapist, and they’re committed to facilitating great therapeutic matches, so they make it easy and free to change counselors if needed. It’s more affordable than traditional online coun… offline counseling and (I love this part) financial aid is available. So, betterhelp.com want you to start living a better life today, go to betterhelp.com/virtualcom and you’ll get 10% off your first month’s treatment. Again, that’s betterhelp.com/virtualcom. Alright, let’s get on to the show.
Hey, everybody, thank you for tuning into episode 156 in The Virtual Couch. I’m your host Tony Overbay, I’m a licensed marriage and family therapist, certified mindful habit a coach, writer, speaker, husband, father of 4, ultra-marathon runner, and creator of the Path Back, an online pornography recovery program that is helping people reclaim their lives from the harmful effects of pornography. If you or anyone that you know is struggling to put pornography behind them once and for all (and trust me, it can be done) in a straight faced, hold the shame become the person you always knew you could be way, then please head over to pathbackrecovery.com and there you can download a short e-book that describes 5 common mistakes that people make when trying to get rid of pornography once and for all; again, that is pathbackrecovery.com. And I would also encourage you, speaking of that note, in the last week, I think I recorded 4 or 5 guest appearances on other podcasts about pornography addiction. So, I would highly recommend finding the Jolene’s podcast, The Cause for Christians, I’ve done Craig Pear’s podcast, Sex Afflictions and Porn Addictions, and also just recorded my episode for Kurt Francom of leadingsaints.org, his Liberating Saints virtual online summit; which is incredible, there are so many good speakers there. And recorded my episode and Kurt does an amazing job just bringing out the best of me. So, thank you, Kurt, and I highly encourage you to go check that out.
And please, go Visit Virtual couch on Instagram there. I have a… I have a couple of interns that are incredible, they are so amazing. And so, we’re doing a weekly Q&A, I’m doing weekly kind of thoughts from the chair therapy Instagram TV thing, and just having a lot of fun with that and just really hearing some good feedback. And so I’m so grateful to have some amazing people help them in with that. So, that’s Virtual Couch on Instagram, and you can still find The Virtual Couch page on Facebook, that’s new from, I also have Tony Overbay Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist there, go like them both, why not? And if you have a minute, and I feel… I do feel like I’m… I’m kind of just… I don’t want to go into the begging mode, I feel like that is… that is a little bit much, but if you have a minute you’ve enjoyed some of The Virtual Couch podcast material, I would love it if you would rate, review, subscribe to the podcast wherever you get your podcast. It really is true that the algorithms that kind of put podcasts in front of people are pretty heavily driven by those ratings and reviews and that sort of things. So, it really is podcast currency. So, if you have a chance please rate, review, subscribe, and share an episode as well if you… if you like. And please head over to tonyoverbay.com, I’ll be so fast with this, but sign up there to find out more about the exciting news.
So, I’ve mentioned done a couple of episodes now, co-authored a book and there is a release date looking like early November, and it is called ‘He’s a Porn Addict, Now What?: An expert and a Former Addict Answer to your Questions’. I am playing the role of the expert and the former Virtual Couch guest, Joshua Shea, is the addict. And speaking of addict and expert, I cannot wait to get to today’s episode. I have a new best friend, his name is Brannon Patrick, he is the host of the very popular podcast, The Betrayed, The Addicted, and The Expert, and he does play the role the expert on the podcast along with Ashlynn and Coby. And I have been… I’ve had many, many clients (that is no exaggeration) asked me if I was familiar with their podcast, and I go into a little bit of this with Brannon, but I first did the thing where I was a little bit jealous. I was like, “Hey, I’ve got a podcast too, you know, you’re sitting right in front of me,” and realize that, “Hey, it’s not all about me.” And their… but their podcast is incredible because it is on the subject of betrayal trauma. And speaking of these Instagram Q&As, is one of those that I get often is, “Can you please do an episode on betrayal trauma?” I have done some certification, some training in the world of betrayal trauma, but it’s not something that I am doing… well, I kind of really… am doing every day, but… but it’s not something that I’m doing, you know, 8 client8s a day. And so, I… I do enjoy working with betrayal trauma, I feel like I’m pretty knowledgeable in the world of betrayal trauma, but I really wanted to bring someone that is an expert in betrayal trauma on to talk about this, and that expert is Brannon Patrick.
So, he is a dynamic leader in the betrayal trauma addiction recovery community and he has some online programs. He’s also the co-clinical director and owner of Therapy Utah, and in his bio, he talks about that as… kind of says… he says that he’s treated almost every kind of addiction in every setting, and he started by working on an inpatient psychiatric unit, spent years gaining experience in the intensive outpatient setting, and so he’s received a lot of specialized training in addiction recovery and betrayal trauma recovery.
And so, I really do feel like you are going to enjoy this interview. It’s dealing with a heavy subject material, the concept of betrayal trauma, but… but Brannon is just a… he is a really easy to talk to person; that’s kind of why I said I got a new best friend now. He and I turned the mics on a little early this morning, we recorded it pretty early, and it was 20 minutes later, we were still talking and I realized, “Man, I got to start recording,” because I had a client coming up a little bit later. So, I feel like we… we could have talked for days and I can’t wait to have him on again. But he’s also developed a lot of groups and programs for addiction recovery. He does have specialized training as a certified sexual addiction therapist, the CSAT, and… and he also is trained in EMDR, which is eye movement desensitization… desensi… (it’s easy for you to say), desensitization and reprocessing, and as well as dialectical behavioral therapy, DBT, and cognitive behavioral therapy; and those are significant. I would love to get him on and talk about EMDR and DBT. Those are both very important therapeutic modalities for different things that come up in therapy. But today, we are going to talk about betrayal trauma and… and we talked about this at the end, but if we didn’t answer your questions or if you have questions from the podcast, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org and I would love to use those to have a chance to get him back on the podcast. And I highly recommend visiting… go listen to their podcast, he is the expert on The Betrayed, The Addicted, and The Expert. Alright, without any further ado, let’s get to my interview with Brannon Patrick.
So, yeah I will have just said incredibly nice things about you by the way.
Tony: So, I would love to kind of hear a little bit… first of all, you’re in Utah, correct?
Brannon: Yeah, yeah.
Brannon: I’m in Highland.
Tony: Highland? So, I grew up there. Did you… did you were up there, high school?
Brannon: I grew up in sugarhouse.
Tony: Uh-huh. So, what high school did you go to, Brannon?
Brannon: I went to Highland High School.
Tony: Highland? Alright. I was an Alta Hawk.
Brannon: Oh, really? Nice.
Tony: Yeah, yeah. But I think I probably old enough to be your dad, so don’t know if that says…
Brannon: I doubt it.
Tony: Okay, alright. So, I would love to get… and first of all, I’m a big fan of your podcast and… and I feel like it’s one of those things where I kept having people ask me if I had heard about your podcasts to the point of where, at first, I was a little bit annoyed, you know, I was saying… I would be like, “Hey, I got a podcast too,” you know, but I’m like, “Okay, fine, I’ll listen to Brannon’s podcast,” and it’s like, “Okay, I’m kind of hooked now.” So, podcast is The Betrayed, The Addicted, and The Expert. How long you done the podcast and how did you… what led to that?
Brannon: We’ve done that for 2 and a half years. It was really interesting how it started. I… I met Ashlynn and Coby, they were just starting off in their recovery journey. They had done a video that went viral about their story, you know, they’re just really open. And I had been treating betrayal trauma for a while, about maybe 8 years by then.
Tony: Oh, wow.
Brannon: And I had… I had worked under people, I had worked at so many different places, I knew what worked and what didn’t work.
Brannon: I could see it working with Ashlynn and Coby and I just thought, “Man, we need to come together and I can bring my expertise and talk about recovery and what really works for healing for a couple,” through them, they can share their story so people will connect to that, really relate to it. And we… we didn’t know what we were doing. We… we had a little snowball mic on an ironing board and we started that way. And really, we didn’t need fancy technology and stuff, the story held its own. And, yeah, we just… we hear things like, you know, “Your podcast has been one of the most instrumental things for our recovery,” you know.
Tony: I like what you say to it when you’re talking about you saw their video and you… did you recognize things that they weren’t doing that would really help in their recovery?
Brannon: Yeah. So… so it’s interesting when I talk to Ashlynn and Coby because I’m not their therapist.
Brannon: Which i think is a good thing, I’m actually really good friends with their therapist.
Brannon: But as we talked, I could tell early on they were learning stuff from what I was saying as well.
Brannon: It just goes to show, you know, recovery’s… it’s not a thing where you arrive one day, you know? They were further along than a lot of couples, they were out of the crisis mode, they were… they were moving forward in terms of connection and intimacy.
Brannon: But they still have some work to go. And so yeah, they’ll always have work to go. And so, yeah, they were learning a lot from me and we cap… we kind of capture that on the podcast as…
Tony: You guys talk about… you talk about difficult subjects too, and I’m really curious, I want to kind of get to the betrayal trauma part, but is that… is that hard, or do you guys have planning meetings of, “Okay, do we want to touch this one?” or is anything off limits, or are you excited about the difficult topics?
Brannon: So, we… we want the difficult topics, we gravitate toward that. We really try hard not to plan too much. And…
Brannon: … the reason is because… because we’re all about authenticity and vulnerability. And so, we don’t have it scripted out, it really is a conversation. We… we throw a topic… topic out there and we just break it down. And, yeah, there’s… there’s a… there’s some interesting topics that we hit and we’ve gotten some backlash.
Tony: Okay, like what, yeah.
Brannon: … I love to talk about. There’s a… I think there’s a battle within a battle when it comes to betrayal trauma.
Brannon: And if I can… if I can give you just a little history.
Tony: Please do, that’ll be great.
Brannon: So, there is… so when I first started treating this years ago, it was… it was this codependency model, you know, the co-addict, the… and it really felt blamey toward the spouse. Barbara Stephans came out with her book, ‘Your Sexually Addicted Spouse’, which was really important, and then just a wave started happening of, “We’re not going to call it codependency, that’s not what it is, it is the trail trauma.” And I really appreciated that because it took the blame away from… from the spouse. But… but there’s… there’s another side to it and it’s gone to this place of, you know, there’s betrayal trauma and then there’s this abusive, horrible monster addict, right?
Brannon: And you know what’s interesting, Tony? I’ve been called a man hater and I’ve been called somebody who doesn’t sympathize with the betrayed, and I’m neither.
Brannon: You know, I think we can have compassion for both sides. And so, when Ashlynn and Coby talk… Ashlynn, Coby and I talk about things like, we did an episode about, you know, how… what do you attract to your life, right, like the law of attraction.
Brannon: And we got a lot of backlash about that one because they’re like… and we’re talking about the betrayed and we’re saying, you know, “We want you to self-reflect to really look at how is… how have you attracted certain things into your life?” And we’re not blaming.
Brannon: But… but what we what we do want is to empower them to really move forward with the power that they have and not just stay stuck in a victim place of, “I’ve been hurt. I’ve been betrayed,” that… that pain is real, that… the hurt is real, the betrayal is real, but… and this is… it’s kind of like I was running a group and this this woman I’d worked with for a long time and I… I had a lot of rapport with her and… and she said, “Well, am I just supposed to forgive my husband?” I said, “Well, you could if… you know?” And I realized forgiveness isn’t something I’d throw out there like so quickly.
Brannon: I said, “You could, that’s up to you.” And she said, “Well, oh, he did all he things to me and I’m just expected to forgive him?” and I said, “Look, I… I’m not telling you what you should or shouldn’t do, but if you want more peace and happiness and you want to move forward, then that’s up to you and that’s your responsibility to figure out how to forgive him.”
Brannon: And there are some… there’s some therapist, there’s some platforms out there that really drive home, “Stay the victim if you are betrayed and… and consider him a monster as the addict.”
Brannon: And it doesn’t help a couple move forward. Through… I did this… I know I’m going off, Tony, I did this instagram…
Tony: No, yeah.
Brannon: … on… I did this Instagram post on… on positive regard toward your spouse and I was just… I was quoting Brené Brown and saying like, “Look, the life you bless the most when you have positive regard toward other people is your own,” and I got all these… it was interesting because, on my Instagram, I have a lot of people who follow me because of betrayal trauma.
Brannon: And I have a lot of people who follow me just because they like the relationship stuff that I do. The… the people who don’t have the betrayal trauma, they thought, “That’s awesome, yeah, I appreciate that positive regard,” plus the people who have been indoctrinated… and I’m not saying everybody with betrayal trauma.
Brannon: The indoctrinated with, “He’s just a monster,” hated that post, and… and they said, “That’s really dangerous for you to say to have positive regard toward my spouse.” And my response to that was, “Positive… I’m not going to back down. Positive regard toward your spouse is a good thing. It doesn’t mean that you don’t have boundaries with him.”
Brannon: “It doesn’t you’re at risk of getting hurt more. So, yes, you can approach your recovery and your recovery with your relationship from a place of compassion for yourself, first and foremost, have your own boundaries, and then for… for your partner. And… and that’s what actually works for healing for a couple. So… because…
Tony: It’s like when people, the betrayed in that example, I do feel like the fear is that if I then give him positive regard or I say, “Okay, I forgive you,” I mean, what I hear often is then the betrayed feels like, “Okay, so now he’s off the hook and he will he will go back to doing whatever he was doing and all of this was for nothing and… and it doesn’t matter anymore.” Do you hear that?
Brannon: And it comes down to the fundamentals of real recovery, which is…
Brannon: Because absolutely, Tony, what you just said is the fear like, “If I… if I don’t control this through my anger and my fear here, then I’m worried that I’m going to get hurt again.”
Brannon: And the… the thing is is, you know, I get this question like, “How do I know what… when he’s in recovery?” and I just say, “You know it. He… you know, if you let him off the hook, he still needs to man up and work his own recovery. He still needs to create that trust with you. And your ang… your anger and your fear, in no way is driving that recovery.”
Tony: Okay, that…
Brannon: “What will drive that recovery is his internal motivation for change, and that’s what will get him into solid recovery. And when you know that that’s there, then… then you can really back off of that, that anger and that fear.” That anger and that fear, it’s… it’s interesting, Tony, because I don’t want to say, “You shouldn’t have it.”
Brannon: Because I… what I do want to say from anyone who’s been betrayed is having it is totally normal and valid and… and anybody would have that… those feelings. But what I hope that… that whoever’s listening can understand is having it is something you need to process and work through and learn from and solidify your own self so that you can become stronger. It’s not something that… that works to… to turn into force for his recovery.
Tony: Yeah, yeah.
Brannon: (unclear) [20:19].
Tony: Oh, it’s so good and, I mean, because I do feel like and I don’t want… I want to hear your… I want to hear you more, I don’t want to… I feel like I want to echo, but I feel like, I often say that… and I’m a big fan of acceptance and commitment therapy, and that acceptance part is the, you know, all the situations in your life that brought you to that moment cause you to feel the way you feel, and if you didn’t feel that way, then there would be something kind of off. And so perfectly okay to feel that way.
Brannon: Absolutely. I always say, don’t… don’t shoot on your feelings.
Brannon: You know, every emotion is valid, every single emotion that any person has ever had in this universe is valid.
Brannon: Because it’s real to them. And so absolutely, if… and… and the, you know, first stages of recovery for somebody who’s been betrayed, if they’ve been isolated and alone in those feelings, it’s really important that somebody says, “We get it and it’s okay that you… you feel that way.”
Brannon: You know? And so…
Tony: Where do you… where do you kind of… I mean, I like where you’re going with the… kind of talk more about what do you do when you… when you kind of go fundamentals of betrayal trauma or when you have somebody that comes in for the first time, or are there some things that somebody’s going to be listening right now, they’ve heard the term, they aren’t doing anything about it?
Tony: What do you… what do you say? Yeah.
Brannon: So, first thing is what I just said is… is to let them know that… that what they’re feeling is okay, to validate it. And validation comes through empathy from the therapist part and it also comes through education. When you educate them and they’re like, “Oh, my gosh, that’s us, that’s me, that’s yes.” And so, yeah, education empathy, also validation comes from support from other people. So, think like things like group, I’m a huge believer in group, especially for the betrayed… well, and the addicted, but both.
Brannon: That’s the first thing. So, through that education, then we start to really outline what real recovery is. And what’s interesting, Tony, is most people come in and they… they think, “You know, he’s… he’s acting out with pornography and masturbation,” or, “He’s had an affair,” or whatever it is, “And that behavior needs to stop. So, we need to stop that behavior.” And we dig in and there’s symptoms like acting out everywhere, but there’s roots to that, there… there’s real problems there. And the women who decide to work their own recovery, they go through a process of self-discovery and change and healing unlike any other. And what they realize is that his addiction really has propelled them and it’s a huge blessing in their life. They learn how to rework their relationship with God.
Brannon: They learn how to really know who they are, have healthy boundaries, learn how to be authentic, learn how to deal with conflict. They learn how to be empowered in doing what they want to do with their life and be more honest. And… and so… and why do they learn all this because he had an addiction? Because the best way that they can protect themselves is by being as healthy as they possibly can be.
Brannon: And so… (Cindy, I’m talking). So… sorry, that was my daughter. So…
Tony: Well, I feel like that’s that part where… and I’ve said this in with couples therapy as well a lot where, you know, you can’t wait almost to get to that point where no one ever wants something like betrayal trauma to be in their marriage, but then at the end, it is almost hard to say, “Man, are you in a better spot now?”
Brannon: Yeah. And, you know what? It doesn’t require both people working recovery for that to happen. Some of my divorced women…
Brannon: … say that very thing, you know, it led them… their work led them to their divorce, but their divorce was a result of them getting healthy. And it’s awesome when both people work their recovery and they’re both equally committed to their own individual recovery, and then the relationship just thrives. The intimacy becomes so much more than it ever was because they’re both so… getting so healthy.
Tony: Yeah. Before we get too far off of this support too, can I just ask you what your theory or your opinion on… because I love when people they find a group and they get… they get their individual help, but I do kind of refer to what I’ve just called a peanut gallery. I mean, you find it a lot of… they go to a friend and then the friends are giving this, you know, “Here’s what you need to do,” kind of advice. What… do you see that and what do you do with that?
Brannon: Yeah. So, there’s difference between good support and… and bad support. And but, you know, one of the main differences is this, is bad support will feed and fuel a victim mentality and… and they’ll… they’ll fuel, they’ll encourage you to stay stuck. And so… but it… but it feels supportive because it feels so validating. “Oh yeah, you get me, and yeah, he sucks and he’s horrible, and I’m just stuck and this is awful.” Good support will totally empathize, hear you out, reflect back your emotions, explore them with you, allow you to feel what you’re feeling, but… but good support will also be honest with you and… and push you and hold you accountable and… and care about you moving forward. And so, some… some groups you go to can be really detrimental if they feed that victim mentality.
Brannon: Some groups can be really awesome if the… if they are honest with you and will push you to move forward. So, yeah, that definitely exists, Tony, the peanut gallery thing, absolutely.
Tony: So, do you find that most of the people that you work with are people where the… the addict is willing to be a part of the… the treatment, or do you find that you’re seeing a lot of people where the addict is, “Hey, you can go get help, but I told you I’m not… I’m not going to do it anymore,”?
Brannon: I’d say, just off the top of my head, I’d say about 70%, the addict is willing to engage in… in treatment as well. Now, there’s difference between… I guess, let’s talk about willingness.
Brannon: Sometimes that’s compliance and… and that’s really destructive to the relationship.
Brannon: What that is is, “I’ll go because you want me to go. I… I’m only here for you. My heart it’s not in this. I’m just trying to avoid you leaving me so I’ll go,” as compared to, “I’m going because I… like, I’m into this, I’m healing, this is… I’m proactive in my own recovery.” And so, I’d say maybe 50%.
Brannon: But it goes both ways. I have some couples I work with where he’s totally engaged and she’s resistant.
Brannon: She doesn’t want to move forward. Which sounds crazy, but it’s just such hard work and there’s a lot to face, and… and so she’s caught up in fear and in blame and she doesn’t want to work moving forward. So, I see both sides of it.
Tony: Yeah. Because do you feel like in those scenarios, that… that one you just described when she feel… when there comes the disclosure, D-day, the moment where she finds out, there… there’s such that shock that it’s, “Look, this isn’t my problem, this is your problem. Why would I need to do anything about it?” Do you run into that?
Brannon: Oh, absolutely. And… and, you know, there’s… there’s some truth to that, but it’s… it’s one of those things, you know? If somebody took a sledgehammer to my leg, you know, like they did that, they need to fix that, but now I’m… I’m… now I’m stuck with a shattered leg, you know? So, I’m going to need to do some rehab on that leg.
Brannon: But, yes, I hear… I hear that all the time. I also, when I run the trail trauma groups for the first time, sometimes women will come in really eager and ready to go, like, “Yes, I’m ready for this!” A lot of times, they’ll come in, and before I even say a word, they’ll start crying or be really emotional, and it’s… it’s like, “Oh my gosh, I can’t believe that I’m here. I can’t believe that this is what our marriage has come to,” right?
Brannon: And so it’s that they want to stay in hiding because it’s… it’s a hard thing to face and… and I tell them when they… when they’re there like, you know, “It… good for you. It took so much courage for you to come today.” And… and then I kind of… I make it safe for them there. So, but… but absolutely, it’s hard, it’s hard for them to engage sometimes.
Tony: Do you think that some of the fears are around, I mean, they don’t want to hear that their… their spouse tried to blame them, maybe the addict, or they don’t want to hear that they were… I don’t know, whatever is going to come out, I… you know, him saying, “You were missing signals,” or, “I felt you were withdrawn,” or that… do you feel like that could be a problem?
Brannon: Well, sometimes, Tony, the truth is, a lot of the women have been to therapists or church leaders or really do push back the blame onto them.
Brannon: They don’t want to hear that anymore, you know? They’re told that they haven’t had sex enough or…
Brannon: … you know, and they’re like that. That’s… “The last thing I need from a professional or somebody who’s… that… you know, I don’t trust help, and so why would I go get help?”
Tony: I’m going to isolate… I’m going to isolate that audio clip, that one has got to be played over and over, because I feel like nothing is more detrimental than having someone come into my office and you do sense that hesitation and you find out that they have sat with a bishop or someone that said, “Well… well what were… what was your role in it?” you know, or, “How long… how many… how often were you having sex?” or, you know… and it just… that’s the part where I wanted like pause the session, go find…
Brannon: I can tell you a really bad horror story. It was like 2 weeks after D-day, this Bishop was talking to this couple and he turns to her and he says, “Hey, have you forgiven him?”
Tony: 2 weeks?
Brannon: He was 2 weeks. She goes, “No,” and he says, “Well, then I’m going to need your temple recommend.”
Tony: Ugh, for her… well, her?
Brannon: For her!
Brannon: And that’s an extreme example, right? But stuff like that, like come on. And so, yeah, they’re a little reticent to come in and… and have somebody tell them what is and tell them, you know?
Tony: I like what you’re saying though, and so I fell like that’s… that speaks to… and I love that people are going to hear this and they’re going to resonate and they’re going to say, “Okay, I don’t know, he told me he’s not going to do it anymore, I’m probably okay, I’m listening to a couple podcasts and I’m good,” but what do you say to that? And I… and I totally want to meet the client where they’re at, don’t get me wrong.
Tony: But where… but what do you… what do you say to the people listening right now that kind of feel like, “Okay, good advice, noted, but… but I’m… I think I’m okay,”?
Brannon: Right. Well, and again, if that’s where you’re at, that’s where you’re at and at least you’re listening to this and…
Brannon: … awesome, right? But such a crucial part of a recovery is connection.
Brannon: And it’s just so powerful when… when you can connect with other… other people who are in your similar situation. And… and I think the reason why it’s so powerful is because it takes so much shame resiliency and vulnerability to go out and do that, you… you get a benefit from it. And so, connection and education are… are really important. And… and so you can get your education, you know, kind of behind the curtain so to speak.
Brannon: But connection, you got to put yourself out there a little bit. And so I would highly encourage that, yes, you do… you do go to a group, you meet with a therapist, you… you find a mentor, a sponsor, or somebody that… that you can talk openly with about where you’re at. So…
Tony: And, again, somebody that knows what betrayal trauma is, not somebody that says, “No, I’m sure I can figure it out,” or, “I’ll Google it,” or…
Brannon: Absolutely, somebody who really understands betrayal trauma.
Tony: Yeah. Now, I feel bad because I feel like we’re about to jump… now have a… I don’t know, I have a zillion question, so are you okay if we call this the all over the map section? Because…
Brannon: That’s great.
Tony: Okay, good. So, because a couple of things you said, it… and I don’t even… I was going to frame this with a, “Here’s a hard question,” you know, but it’s like, I don’t know, Brannon, you’re pro so I don’t even have to… these are layups for you, I’m sure. But do you have advice for… for D-day, for disclosure? And where…. and I’ll frame it very quickly with, I will have people that will, you know, they get caught, or they finally decide, “Okay, I’m going to tell my spouse that I’m addicted or I’ve had an affair,” and they maybe Google it and it just says, “Hey, you know, just tell them everything.” And so then… you know, then they go in and, “Alright, I’m going to be open about everything,” and then it just causes this concept of staggered disclosure, or the guy feels so relieved that he confessed, or, you know, yeah, do you have advice? What do you say about that disclosure?
Brannon: A couple things. So, the… and there’s the difference between D-day and… and like a formal disclosure.
Tony: Yes, okay, talk about that.
Brannon: So, D-day is… is when it just busts open and, you know, she finds something. It’s like I was meeting with… recently, I met with somebody and they found condom in the backseat of his truck, you know, and it’s just like led to this conversation to that to like, boom, all of a sudden, her whole world was different, right?
Brannon: That’s D-day. A formal disclosure is when you sit down and you lay things on the table and it’s a chance to just kind of flush it all out. And so, if… if I were in the position of having a big thing to tell my spouse and knowing that it needs to be disclosed, this might sound a little weird, but I would go to a therapist first.
Brannon: I’d get some guidance, talk through some things. The way you disclose is… is really important, and you can… you can do so much damage to the foundation and the trust in your marriage, not because of the act, no the act itself did damage, yes.
Brannon: But the way that you come out with it, and this staggered disclosure, this trickle out effect, justifying it, rationalizing it, minimizing it in any way, you know, it creates this thing where she feels like, “Well, thanks for telling me, but now I just don’t know what I don’t know.”
Tony: Absolutely, “So, I’m going to ask a lot of questions and I’m going to think about it and I’m going to ask more questions. And… and then if you weren’t consistent with your story, then you must be lying, and now how do I trust you on anything?” right?
Brannon: Yes, absolutely.
Brannon: Exactly. And the thing is is the natural thinking I think for most people is this, “I’m going to tell her enough so she thinks I’m being honest.”
Brannon: “But not too much because it’s too uncomfortable.”
Brannon: And this is really tricky and this is why working with the therapist is important, because the other side of it is telling her every last detail is… is also not good.
Brannon: And… and so then it’s like, “Well are you telling me…” there’s a difference between telling her what is, what happened, what… you know, you can say, “Yeah, I’ve looked at pornography 5 days a week for the last 2 years,” okay?
Brannon: That’s one thing. Going and saying, “I’ve looked at pornography with this type of woman and this size and this hair color,” and now you’re just planting so many triggers in her head, right? “I’ve had an affair,” is different than, “I met with this woman at this restaurant and we ate this meal,” and now you’re just planting triggers in her head. So… so, don’t avoid scary hard things, but also don’t overdo it and plant a bunch of triggers in her head, right? Is that… does that make sense?
Tony: Yeah, it does and love it, and kind of it’s funny that you say this, and I want… I would love to spend some time on triggers and… and the whole kind of PTSD symptoms…
Tony: … and that sort of thing. But, you know, I met with somebody recently who it was a guy who was struggling with marriage and thinking of divorce and… and that sort of thing. And then… and that one, of course I say, “Go meet with the divorce attorney and get all of your data and… and have questions and, you know, get everything together before you present this as, ‘I want the divorce’,” or so I kind of like what you’re saying, we need to get that in our field of, “Hey, go meet with a therapist and have a list of questions and have your game plan.” And it’s not from a, “Because I want to manipulate her or I want…” but it’s, “I care about her and I want to do this right.”
Brannon: Absolutely, I love that, Tony.
Tony: That’s good, yeah.
Brannon: Yeah. The thing is, you know, it’s not to manipulate her, it’s for you to… to gather information because you care about her.
Tony: Yeah. Because I like what you’re saying, I mean, it can come from a great place when a guy finally says, “Okay, fine, I’ll tell her everything,” but… and this is what I love about your podcast because you guys talk about this stuff real. And I do find at times that I’m kind of still on the, you know, “Well, I want to have people kind of come to these… this conclusions and things on their own, and I don’t want them to feel like I’m ‘shoulding’ on them or…” but what I love what you’re talking about is I’ll go… the one I hear often is objectification for example. So, it’s a guy is just dumping everything, and I… you know, I like what you’re saying there’s these specific triggers and that he’s planted and then I’ll hear a woman say, “Wait, have you ever… have you ever looked at my friend and thought about her?” and then he’s, like, “Okay, I just Googled I gotta be super honest. Yes, I have,” you know, it’s like, “What! Have you ever looked at this girl and this one?” and then it’s like… and now, she is living in a world of triggers and he felt like he was doing the right thing right, but, you know, I don’t know if you ever get those.
Brannon: Well, Tony, here’s the thing. The… I…. this is a hard topic…
Brannon: … when I… when I meet with a couple. There’s a… like there’s a couple, she would flip through Facebook and pull up pictures of their friend and say, “Is she attractive? Is…”
Brannon: “… she attractive? Is she attractive?” right? And… and so he came into me and I said, “Be honest with her,” and so he goes and he’s like, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah,” that, you know? And so, she goes out in their small town and sees all these women and… and so then he’s like, “Well, that didn’t work,” and so she does it again and he’s like, “No, no.” And so, she comes in and it’s like, “He’s lying to me!” and… and I said to him, “Look, be honest with her,” and he… he looked at me like, “What are you talking about?” and I was like, “Be honest with her,” and he’s like, “Well, I have, I tell her if they’re attractive,” and… and what… he’s not honest with her. Because the reality is… is, when she’s triggered like that…
Brannon: … you know, his honest truth is, “Honey, I’m not comfortable with this right now.”
Brannon: “This doesn’t work for me. I’m happy to be honest with you, but if you could go talk to Brannon or if, you know, if we could work through this before we go down the list of attractive women on Facebook…”
Brannon: “… that’s… that’s what I want to do.” So, it’s a boundary for him, and now it might look to her like, “No, you’re just avoiding this then, you’re just…” and in a way, it’s true. But if he can own it and step into it and say, “Look, I care about us, I care about our safety, this isn’t something that’s healthy for us right now,” instead of being way too compliant…
Brannon: … or way too avoidant and lying about it, right? He’s not going to create safety that way.
Tony: I love that because now that I throw my couples hat on and we’re really trying to… that’s one of those where I say, “Okay, we got to trust the process a little bit, we got to secure the connection,” you know, the old cliché, “We got to work on the roots and then the leaves maybe aren’t going to feel as triggering or as… as heavy. But… but right now, if we’re just picking out those, it’s going to be… yeah, it’s not going to be pretty.”
Brannon: Right, right.
Tony: So, hear up that connection and then it’s kind of like, you know… I don’t know, then maybe he’s like, “Yeah, okay, she’s cute,” and then the wife’s like, “Okay, if you’d have told me not, I would have thought you’re nuts,” you know, but we’re not having that conversation at the beginning, right?
Brannon: Right, absolutely, yes.
Brannon: It’s… the example I always give is my wife made this dish and it was like she spent all day making it and I was like, “Oh, man,” she puts it in front of me and I eat it and she’s like, “How is it?” what am I supposed to do, Tony?
Tony: Oh, it was a great dish, Brannon, whatever it was, even if it’s tuna fish casserole, “Oh, man, that was good,” yeah.
Brannon: Right. And… and the truth is, so I tell her something like this, like, “Hon, like I so appreciate your hard work, like I love you, thank you, it’s not my favorite.”
Brannon: “I wouldn’t… I probably wouldn’t put it on the menu.” And… and, you know what? She’s a little disappointed.
Brannon: And… and… but for me to… to maintain trust in my relationship with her, I need to be able to tolerate her disappointment.
Brannon: I need to be able to have the strength enough to be honest with her. I can still be kind and loving, and so then when she makes dinner the next day and it’s like… and it’s good and I’m like, “Heck, yeah, this is amazing!” she knows I mean it.
Brannon: It’s the same thing… it’s the same thing between a couple, right? For him to be able to be authentic and honest about who he is and know who he is, that’s what will build trust in the relationship.
Tony: Hey, Brannon, I’m very open about my ADD on my podcast, what was that… what was that dish? I’m dying here.
Brannon: It was chickpea curry.
Tony: Oh, I do like a good curry.
Brannon: Yeah, but it was vegetarian just… I don’t know.
Brannon: It had like coconut in it and…
Tony: Okay, no, alright. But I love that though because even… and, again, back to couples mode, I’m a huge emotional focused therapy fan, EFT fan, and we do want to be able to share our truths. And… and I know one of those underlying principles is it’s okay to have a differing opinion and where our goal is not to destroy the other person’s reality, it’s, you know….
Brannon: But one if the… one of the old… like when I was trained, I was trained a lot under some people where I learned a lot of what not to do.
Brannon: And one of the things that I learned was, at the beginning of recovery, the addict doesn’t have a leg to stand on, he needs to shut up and he needs to comply and he needs to not have boundaries. There couldn’t be anything further from the truth. Does the addict need boundaries? Absolutely. Not just for him and his recovery and… and understanding who he is, but also to rebuild the trust in the relationship. Not being bound read, for him, is not being honest, and the last thing she needs is for him not to be honest. And so, it’s not just hunkering down and just like trying to do everything you possibly can to make her happy, the thing that’s going to make her happy is when she feels integrity there…
Brannon: … from you, and strength there, right?
Tony: And I feel like that’s where the individual work becomes so important. I always, when I’m working with men for example, I mean, I do kind of say, “Alright, I hear you and I want to hear your truths, but where does that come from, and is it being worked through a manipulation filter?” If a guy is being really, really honest, I love the… I love to tell the story of having a long day and driving home and feeling down and realizing halfway home that, “Okay, what’s… what’s my… what’s my goal here with this feeling down?” and it’s like, “Wow, I want to come home and have everybody go, ‘Oh, man, dad, oh, you worked so hard,’” and I was like, “I don’t want that, I want to bust the door open everybody, you know, ‘Dad’s home!’ and… and I’m pumped.” So, you know, am I being manipulative, lovingly manipulative, unaware manipulative?
Brannon: Right. Well, and… and that’s what’s so tricky with addiction is, you know, denial, drama, manipulation, it’s… it’s so automatic and run so deep that a lot of times, if you’ve been… if you’ve been stuck in your addiction for so long, you don’t really know your truth.
Tony: Exactly, yeah.
Brannon: Your truth goes through this denial thing and… and it’s hard to trust it. And that’s where a good support system can really help is to bounce things off of a buddy and recovery or a good therapist, you can be like, “Really feels manipulative.”
Tony: Yeah, right.
Brannon: “Who are you, really? What really is your… your value, your truth here with this thing?” right?
Tony: Yeah, okay. Can you… do you mind talking triggers? And talk about, you know, do you feel… what is a trigger? Do you… do you encourage, you know, in this one, we’ll say the woman is the betrayed to express triggers? What is the… the addicted supposed to do with triggers? I mean, I… I’m… this is the part I feel like can get tricky. And I know what I feel is the right thing, but you… you are the expert, literally, it says it on your podcast. So, I… this… I’m excited about this.
Tony: Right, right. So, triggers are just anything that triggers your… your midbrain, your… your survival response, your… so… so, triggers an emotion, triggers a behavior to react. So, it can be a smell, it can be you see something, an event, something happens and you go into your emotional mind. You… you’re ready to do something, fight, flight or freeze. And so, with betrayal trauma, its trauma, they have trauma triggers and things that… that aren’t really based in reality can… can end up triggering them like crazy. It’s like my… my buddy in Hawaii, we’re… we’re blasting off a bunch of fireworks and he… he went in and just stuck his head under a pillow and was shaking and the… you know, he’s a combat veteran who was on the front lines, and so it makes total sense. But if you look at it, it doesn’t make much sense, we’re just firing off some fireworks, right? He has that trauma response because of his life experiences, so he’s going into a survival mode. With betrayal trauma, trauma is real. So, if you get home 5 minutes late from work and she’s freaking out, it makes total sense that she is.
Tony: Okay, I love that.
Brannon: And her triggers are… are one of the best opportunities for the addict, but if he can see it as that.
Brannon: Because usually, he’ll take it personally or he’ll be really uncomfortable with it. So, when… when she’s triggered, if you can hold space for her, if you can be an asset for her to process through those emotions (if she wants you to), then you become somebody who connects to her in her scariest moments, not somebody who adds on to her scariest moments.
Tony: It’s an opportunity… I mean, it is an opportunity to connect. I mean, that’s… I love what you’re saying there. I want… I can’t imagine how hard that would be for a guy, but to… right, I want the woman to say, “Alright, I drove by the store,” or, “I saw this girl,” or, “I smelled the smell and I was triggered,” because I want the guy to turn to her and say, “Thank you,” you know?
Brannon: Yeah, “Tell me about it.”
Brannon: “I want to know how you feel and who you are.” And there’s… there’s little tricks and techniques, you probably won’t get into those today, but the things that he can do to help her process that trigger. But first and foremost, it takes his own shame resiliency.
Brannon: If that trigger is usually probably about him, like, “Why are you a cheater? Why did you do this to me? What… you know, I was wondering if you’re going to hurt me again, are you?” and for him to say, “No, I’m not! No, I’m not!” or… or for him not to say, “When are you going to get over this.”
Brannon: But for him to just be like, “Oh my gosh, you’re freaked out right now.”
Brannon: “And I want to hear your pain.” I had a… a good buddy of mine actually, an old client, good buddy of mine, he… his wife woke up 3 in the morning and he was on his phone at the end of the bed and she’s… she’s triggered. I mean, duh, I think any… and his history is acting out on his phone with pornography, and so she’s telling him like, “Hey, like what are you doing?” and she freaks out, and the old him would have been like, “Oh my gosh, I’ve been sober for 2 years, you know, what’s wrong with you? Can’t you believe?” and he just stopped and thought, “Oh my gosh, I can’t imagine with what you’ve been through waking up in the middle of night and seeing me on my phone like this.”
Brannon: “Geez, like I bet you’re freaked out right now.” And… and that’s… you see you’re nodding your head, Tony, that’s a… and that’s… that’s what you’re looking for is to get them to nod their head like, “Oh yeah, you get me, yeah, you understand me. And I’m okay to feel this trigger.” And… and that’s what will kill the trigger.
Brannon: If in that moment, he says, “You’re crazy,” or, “Just get over it,” or, “That’s not what I was doing,” it’ll amp that trigger up, right?
Brannon: And so…
Tony: So, the more… and I always feel like that, you know, in the EFT, Sue Johnson has this attachment injury apology that… you’re familiar those, right? And it’s that… that, “Man, I’m sorry… I’m sorry I put you in a spot where you feel that way when you see me at the end of the bed, and I’m sorry for the times that I’m not even aware of that you probably go to that place and wonder and, you know, sit with that, which I know can be so uncomfortable.”
Brannon: Yes, absolutely. So, the… the relationship has a lot of opportunity to heal because of the pain and because of the wounds. And it’s… it’s a silver lining I think that God gave to help repair things. When… what I’m saying is, when there’s a lot of pain, there’s a lot of fear, there’s a lot of emotion, which means there’s a lot of opportunity for connection.
Tony: I like that.
Brannon: Yeah. And if the… if the addict can see it that way and… and learn how to step into that with her, then they’ll… they’ll start to strengthen their bond. And it’s a beautiful thing.
Tony: Well, I… I had… I had a client share a quote with me, and I’m drawing a blank right this second on the author, but the end of the quote says, you know, “Jumping through the abyss and finding out on the other end there’s the featherbed,” and I feel like that’s… that’s…
Brannon: Love it.
Tony: … the concept, right?
Brannon: That is the concept, yes.
Brannon: But… but, Tony, it takes the opposite of what… what an addict has done is entire life, which is…
Brannon: … which is avoid the vulnerability, right?
Brannon: Is to learn how to isolate and disconnect and… and go into denial. And so it takes the learning how to do the opposite of that that will… will really help her, will help the relationship and help him strengthen his own recovery.
Tony: Yeah. Brannon, do you recommend that women in this scenario express triggers as often as they can or do you feel like hang on to those or…?
Brannon: Yeah, I… I do think expressing triggers is… is a good thing. And I would encourage a support system for her. So…
Brannon: … she might call a sponsor or a group member and just say, “Hey, I got to surrender something over,” and that sponsor might say, “Yeah, you’re really spinning in it. Like, the facts are just this, let’s just stick with the facts, let’s surrender it over to me and you’re good.” And as long as she’s good, great, but every last little trigger, you know, I… I’ve worked with a couple where, you know, they go out in public and they can’t even go out in public because it’s trigger, trigger, trigger, trigger, trigger, right?
Brannon: Now, I’m not saying she shouldn’t have those triggers, but she needs to… she needs to have some tools and work through those triggers outside of him sometimes. Because if she’s always turning to him to say, “You’re good, you’re safe, you’re okay…”
Brannon: … then then her safety completely depends on him, which is not…
Tony: Yeah. And I like where you go back with that where that is sort of the importance of the individual work as well, because I do feel like if individual work’s being done and the point of triggers is to this opportunity for connection, and then I feel like when she gets to the point where she knows, “If I bring a trigger to him, I know now, he is going to be there for me, he’s going to own this. So, maybe now it’s time for me to… to kind of do little mindfulness or work through this.”
Brannon: Exactly, exactly. It’s… it’s interesting because sometimes the men that I work with or they add… the addicts that I work with, that they’re like, “When… when is she going to do her own work?”
Brannon: And… and what’s interesting is when they’ve done their own work and they focus on them and they learn how to empathize, the light reflects back on her where… where she’s like, “Oh my gosh, he’s… he’s there for me, he’s honest with me, he’s empathetic. Like, this is my stuff now, I got to figure this out,” right?
Brannon: So, yeah.
Tony: Okay, when need to talk all day. I mean, and I feel so bad, I mean, I feel bad that I have this… this time pressure. But I think in the perfect world though, it’s… it’s perfect to say, man, if there are questions that we didn’t answer today, first, I would love to send them my way, and I would love to see if we could do another episode at some point in the near future.
Brannon: Yeah, I’d love to.
Tony: But even more so, go to your podcasts because I almost guarantee that if you go to your podcast, you guys would probably cover this. Because I would… I would love to talk about things like intimacy and talking about sex and… and, you know, all of those kind of things, and I know you have episodes on there about that.
Brannon: Yeah, yeah. Like… like you said, we don’t avoid the hard topics.
Tony: Which is the best.
Brannon: We just finished Sextember so we talked about sex all during Sextember.
Brannon: And, yeah, check us out The Betrayed, The Addicted, and The Expert.
Brannon: (unclear) [53:51].
Tony: I say my new best… my new best friend, Brannon, is the expert. You played the role the expert, which… and it’s an absolute pleasure to talk with you. I mean, I love that we talk about authenticity and stuff. The reason I don’t have as much time as I had wanted to is because when we got on that… when we started talking to each other before the recording, I know it’s just nice to talk to you and I feel like we could have talked for days. I mean, and I…
Tony: I agree, Tony.
Brannon: Well, and I get that same sense on your podcast, and I think it’s very relatable, it’s conversational. And so my jealousy has now been replaced with admiration and so, I… man, I highly recommend that people go check that out and I would love to have you again on in the not-too-distant future.
Tony: Awesome, thanks, Tony. And we’ll stay in touch.
Brannon: Brannon Patrick, thank you so much. Alright, I’m going to hit stop here, but hang on a second compressed.