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.

9 Responses to BETRAYAL

  1. David Marks says:

    Remarkably poignant and deliberate, Patti, but with that, also intimate and revealing, as usual. You touch everyone here, deeply, and me, of course. We all suffer betrayal, whether in a sand lot, when teams are chosen in grade school, or on a vastly larger, more adult arena and scale. Another beautiful written and expressive piece of writing.

  2. Nanci (Hale) VeSota says:

    Beautifully written Patti. I think we all can relate to betrayal. It’s a real fine balance – keeping your heart open, while being cautious not to let anyone toxic into your life. Thank you for sharing this. I enjoyed it a lot. Keep writing!

  3. Dan Black says:

    Your conclusion, “Sometimes that feels costly, but to close down one’s heart with mistrust and constant suspicion is to live a life of poverty.”

    Your conclusion to a sad story turns it into an uplifting message.

    GREAT job!

  4. Nancy Stout says:

    Wow, that is so true, and so beautifully said . It gave me goosebumps reading it. I can certainly relate to this. You are such an inspiring writer. Thank you for your thoughtful insight.

  5. Lynda Wells says:

    Well said! Paralysis could perhaps be your way to pause…to pause between flight and fight to catch your breath. In The Four Agreements we are urged to not take anything personally. And, wow, that’s a tall order! However (comma) that reminder could push a pause button in you and allow you to realize that some actions are ‘other’s issues’ and simply belong to them!

  6. Mick Bysshe says:

    John 2:24 speaks to this situation–Jesus holding back a bit as he knew people would twist and turn and put an inaccurate spin on what he said and did.

  7. Karen feld says:

    How true and insightful!

  8. Nicola Timms says:

    Zig Ziglar said (something like) “If you close off your heart to keep the pain out, you inevitably also keep the love out.”
    Some hearts are more prone to being hurt (and abusers know or feel this). It never hurts to look before you leap. It’s my most important lesson in life. I’m 59 and I am grateful that I can apply that lesson. I don’t care how friendly someone is or how much they smile at me when I first meet them, or how decent they look. I take my time… And all business agreements go black on white, punto! 🙂

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