WHAT can be done about it?
If there’s a more common response to our humanity, in relationships, I don’t know what it could be. It appears to me that we are destined to betray each other. Yet, the person recently and catastrophically betrayed will not want to know this. Betrayal has a way of hooking us in to the power of our own lament.
My own testimony of betrayal concerns my first marriage—yet, I now see what I couldn’t in the rawness of the inception of breakdown. I feel I betrayed her as much as she betrayed me. Not that the record will show that. But, betrayal tends to work a little like that as a generalisation. As they say, ‘It takes two to tango.’
People who wantonly betray others clearly have issues with their own morality. But, in the end they betray only themselves. Identity scores us. When we deal roughly with people our consciences (if they’re not already seared) attract for us some emotional dissonance at the cognitive level. This means we are in conflict with ourselves emotionally.
Our thinking becomes affected. This is what happens with anyone who has even the least semblance of conscience; who listens to their conscience. It’s any level of identity crisis that the betrayer goes through.
NB: If the person who betrays us has no conscience for the act of betrayal, and indeed seems to have a seared conscience, we should have some pity and pray for them. They’re a lot more worse off than we are.
Betrayal – By Stealth
In my own case the betrayal came like they tend to do—by stealth. I had no idea and it literally blind-sided me. That’s what made the biggest impact. I had no time to prepare mentally and emotionally for what was about to happen.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from betrayal it’s to expect it, or at least not be so shocked by it. It happens much more than we’d readily think.
Only One True Way Out – Acceptance
At certain levels we must all expect—in a healthy way—to be betrayed because it will happen, even if only in a minor way. It’s actually common for people to be dishonest with one another, even—especially even, strangely enough—in families. By nature we’re inherently dishonest. Our fear “protects” us as we omit, exaggerate or bend the truth routinely. This, again, is a generalisation. Dishonesty, of course, doesn’t have to be the way. Many go on toward the moral higher ground and have the best relationships as a result.
I have found the only effective way through betrayal is to finally accept it. As with any grieving process, acceptance is the final state we need to get to. The quicker the work of acceptance the better the betrayed feel. But acceptance, of course, is a journey that we don’t just suddenly arrive at.
Practical things help in accepting the betrayal:
è Try and work on an internal locus of control. Do this by acknowledging your own power and responsibility over your life, and even see your own faults in contributing to the betrayal. You might think I’m crazy, but acknowledging ‘contributory negligence’ is actually going to help you forgive and move on with your life.
è Forgiveness is a huge key. Staying “soft” to the people that hurt us is mandatory if we don’t want to attract emotional baggage. (Emotional baggage is generally so unnecessary; courage negates it in the short term.) Whoever, or whenever, we choose not to forgive, it directly slingshots back at us. We only hurt ourselves in unforgiveness.
è Having a true sense of daily empowerment can assist the passage. It’s all about retaining our joy. This ebbs and flows, but stringing hours and days and weeks together (finally) gives us a lot of confidence as we reconstruct our identities around our new reality.
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.