For those of you who look for my running posts, this isn’t one of them. This post is on betrayal. The only way I could tie running into this one, is if I were writing about my body betraying me. It does do that! I take good care of it and yet, it fails me from time to time. That’s not the direction we’re going now, though. Today we’re going on a journey into something darker, something that often leaves as much damage as a failed organ. The resulting damage isn’t readily seen, but the pain can certainly be just as intense.
Who hasn’t experienced betrayal in some form? We’ve all been lied to and blindsided by those we trust. We’ve all been stabbed in the back by friends we thought “had our backs”. We’ve all been more than a little disheartened when darkness that’s been hidden in someone we respected is exposed. And I would be surprised if there is anyone out there that hasn’t had their trust totally crushed in a relationship with someone who they considered to be their soul mate, their “Mr. or Mrs. Right”. It happens to people every day. The person that we think is “the one” for us, the person that was supposed to love us “with all of their heart”, can get totally stupid and screw up.
It was my 25th wedding anniversary a few weeks ago. If you’ve read any of my past posts, you probably already know that I’ve been married before, twice actually. I have indeed, experienced betrayal.
It’s hard to forget. It’s harder still, to forgive. I can vouch for the fact that, so far, I’ve never forgotten. Memories fade over time, but each new betrayal triggers all the painful emotion. It’s surprising how an incident can make memories fresh all over again.
I remember the lies, the cover ups, and the clues that raised my suspicions. I remember wanting to be in denial, not wanting to allow my imagination to even explore the possibilities of what I was sensing. I remember the moment that the evidence presented itself in a way that I could no longer deny. The slow realization of what I was sensing was indeed a reality. My betrayer was caught. It happened more than once, actually. More than twice. It happened often with my first marriage. Needless to say, that one didn’t last very long.
There was physical abuse within the marriage. Physical abuse is a betrayal. The hand that’s supposed to love you, gently caress your skin, instead inflicts bruising and pain. That hurts emotionally and physically.
And then there was the time I was blindsided, totally and utterly blindsided. I had no clue. I wasn’t suspicious. I had absolutely no reason to even go there in my imagination. I was adored by him. I was loved and loved well. He was my soul mate, my Mr. Right. How could he do this to me?
In all of these experiences, not one person ever came forward and confessed. They had to be caught.
It hurts to be betrayed. It hurts like hell! Betrayal can turn a normal, calm and self-controlled individual into a crazy person. Tumultuous, tormenting thoughts consume your mind. Of course they would. You’ve just experienced a loss, a huge loss. It’s not a whole lot different than experiencing a death, only with betrayal, there may be no closure for a long time.
The normally confident person becomes insecure and fearful. Self-esteem is brought into question. “What did I do wrong?” You begin to make unhealthy comparisons. “How was I not good enough?” “How was the other person better?” And the anger! Internal rage! What’s the quote? “Hell hath no fury like a woman’s anger!” Yes, the anger is very real. You’re angry at everyone. Angry with the offender, angry with the other party, angry with yourself, and even angry with God.
I remember a three month period of anger as my second marriage was coming to an end. I worked retail and had a 30 mile commute home from work each night. I was the one in that really slow car driving down the freeway late at night, after closing the store. That was my alone time, away from people, away from my two children. It was my time to think, my time to vent. Of course there were tears, lots of tears. I had conversations with myself. Sometimes I would literally scream. It was a safe place in my car on an empty freeway at night, so I could let it all out. I was so angry. Of course, I was angry with my betrayer, but more so at myself. I was angry with myself for letting it all happen again, for allowing myself to be in such a vulnerable place, allowing myself to love and trust again. I was angry at God for allowing my heart to be broken again.
There was the unfairness of it all. It was so not fair that this was happening to me again. Wasn’t it enough before? Why me?
I hated that it made me feel so exposed, naked. I wasn’t comfortable in my own skin anymore. I didn’t want to be touched anymore. It was like I was married to a stranger. Who was this man that I had given my life to?
You feel betrayal physically. It’s like your chest has been ripped open and your heart has been yanked out and crushed by the hand that said it loved you. You’re left to bleed… alone, helpless, vulnerable and bleeding to death… It’s just so wrong.
As I’ve said already, betrayal takes many forms. While the betrayal in your case may not have involved an actual physical affair, something far more valuable may have been taken from you. Your spouse or partner turned the eyes that were supposed to be focused on you, in the direction of another. The place where thoughts of you were supposed to dwell, allowed another to move in. That person occupied your space. The heart that belonged to you was offered to another. When they held out their hand to the other person, they held out your heart and were allowing it to be crushed. Those parts of the one you love are much more valuable than sex organs will ever be.
What do you do from here? How do you process all of this as the person who has been betrayed? For me, I write. Writing helps me gather my thoughts, express my feelings, vent my emotion. It’s much more effective and much safer than a slow, late night car ride. I used to journal regularly. I haven’t done that so much over the past several years, but recently started to do that again. If you’ve never tried it before, give it a shot. You have nothing to lose, but you have your sanity to gain. It’s very therapeutic.
What do I write? Start with a letter to the one who betrayed you. Even if they never get to read it, you will be able to write what you really want to say. It may be mixed in with things you don’t really mean, but you will get the benefit of it. It will give voice to what you need to express and may help you be able to express it in a less crazy way than you would have.
Maybe it would help to write a letter to the “other” woman or man as it may be in your case. They are also an injured party in the scandalous, mess. I know the natural inclination is to call names, lots of names and maybe even seek revenge. If you don’t seek revenge, you can’t tell me that at least thoughts of something bad happening to them haven’t gone through your mind. Fess up now. Remember, I’ve been there.
Healing is ultimately what we need. It’s a process. It takes time, lots of time. If you’ve just been betrayed, you aren’t going to like what I suggest as a next step. It’s not something you will feel like doing at all. It’s something you may think you will never be able to do. But it’s the first step toward a healed heart, and I know you want that. I’m not saying you have to do it right away either, but the sooner you can take this step, the faster you will walk toward wholeness.
Healing starts with a choice. You have to choose to forgive. You do it for you. No, the other person doesn’t deserve it, but you do. When you don’t forgive, you become a prisoner to your own bitter thoughts and feelings and the one who is truly punished, is you.
When we’ve been hurt, we become inclined to wall out the world to protect our own heart. We aren’t willing to risk being hurt again. By doing this, we actually hurt ourselves even more, though. With a wall around our heart to keep the bad away from us, we also keep the good away. Our heart never gets what it truly needs, because no one can see it or reach in and touch it.
When you make the conscious choice to forgive, in time, your feelings will catch up. I promise! Yes, situations will arise where words are said and opportunities for re-wounding will be present. You’ll feel like you’re back to square one. When you reach that spot, remember your choice to forgive and you stick to it or do it again. Do it over and over again if you have to. Eventually, you will find yourself in a place where you are surprised to realize, you really do forgive. You can feel it. You’re a bigger and better person because of it.
You have to come to a place where you choose to not allow your mind to be consumed with the whole situation. Stop replaying the scenarios over and over in your mind. Stop allowing yourself to be tormented with a need to get to the bottom of a story. You may or may not have all of the details, but does it really matter? The damage has already been done. You have to come to a place where you choose to let go. Finding yourself in a situation involving betrayal is emotionally exhausting. I’ve come to the place where the internal struggle was so intense, I had no choice but to let go. My mind and my body couldn’t handle the stress of it anymore. If I didn’t lay it down, it would do me in.
When it comes to healing, I can’t help but to talk about God’s role in all of this for me. I told you that I had a time when I was angry with God over what I had experienced. God wasn’t the one who betrayed me. He didn’t create us to be robots that he sits up in the sky and controls. He made us human and gave us the freedom to choose our actions. It was a human who betrayed you. We are all human and humans aren’t perfect. We all make mistakes. I’ve hurt others and others have hurt me. Maybe they hurt me more, but that doesn’t matter. I may not be able to trust humans to the degree that I would like to, but I know I can trust God to take care of me and heal my heart. He’s come through every time.
When you let go, you find yourself in a calm place. When you’ve forgiven and let go, you find yourself in a calm and peaceful place. When you trust God to heal your heart, you find yourself in a calm, peaceful and loving place. That’s the place I would hope for you, my friend. Will you join me here?