Most of us learn about betrayal at a young age. I remember my best friend in grade school suddenly dumping me, taking a new best friend into her life, and saying cutting things about me to my face and behind my back. I think it hurts more, though, when we’re adults because the wounds cut deeper. Adults, even if they act like children, do adult damage.
I have recently found myself reeling with disbelief that people I have worked with for years went behind my back and set some things in motion that now can’t be undone. I’m being deliberately vague here because it is a work situation, and I adhere to certain ethics even if the other parties don’t. The specifics aren’t really the point anyway.
The point is, what are the lessons here? What can I glean from this that will serve me in the future? Inevitably, at some point betrayal will rear its ugly head again. I watched the sequence of my emotions as I was going through them: shock initially, almost a kind of paralysis; then anger, followed by such a deep hurt that I had to sit down and cry. Finally I came to very logical frame of mind that assessed the situation and plotted out what my next move should be.
So here are my take-aways from this: I would like to eliminate the paralysis stage. It comes from ancient insecurities, buttons that can still get pushed, and it has no place in my life at this time. Yes, I know, easier said than done, but this is my intention. I’m glad I had the emotional reactions of anger and hurt — they indicate that I see nothing usual or banal about betrayal. Because I wouldn’t behave like this, my upset is genuine and heartfelt. However, one action I took I will not take again. I wrote an e-mail to one of the parties expressing my profound hurt and deep disappointment. The response I got was like cold coffee tossed in my face. If someone is comfortable betraying you they aren’t going to suddenly care that you’re upset. All I did was rub salt in my own wounds.
Finally, there is a lesson in faith here. Faith that a door closing means another will open. Faith that a toxic situation will always be revealed eventually, and if you aren’t part of that toxicity, your exit path will be clearly marked. Faith that trusting people is never a mistake, although trusting blindly can be. We either go through this life with an open heart or a closed one, it’s that simple. Open hearts are risky — sometimes the wrong people get in. But in a closed heart, there is no blood flow, no life, no love, no possibility for lessons to be learned. I would prefer knowing that every hurt I’ve endured has taught me a valuable lesson, and has reinforced my commitment to live life from the clearest, most open, most compassionate place I can. Sometimes that feels costly, but to close down one’s heart with mistrust and constant suspicion is to live a life of poverty.