What is it about betrayal in relationships that is soul wrenching? Is it the loss of trust? Is it the knife that sits wedged into your shoulder blades and bleeds each time you move? Or is it the utter disappointment and pain at someone showing deceit in the face of your gift of trust? Whatever the reason may be, the pain and suffering that accompanies betrayal is like no other.
Betrayal is slimy and tricky. It has the potential to show up in all types of relationships from casual, like a working relationship; to intimate, that of a lover. What seems to be the underlying story of betrayal is that there was an assumption of trust in a relationship and it becomes broken. What has the power to break this trust? Well, anything really. It can be gossiping with another co-worker. It can be scheming behind someone’s back to create personal advancement. It can be an affair. It can be sharing personal details of vulnerability with someone outside of your intimate relationship. It can be your best friend dating your ex. It can be someone breaking common ethics to fulfill their own desires.
No matter how betrayal comes about, the constant story is one of loss. Loss of trust, connection, honesty, and essentially what we thought to be true about that person, relationship and/or situation. The pain of betrayal calls on you to revaluate the situation and question whether you missed something. Did I not see this side of this person? How could this happen right under my nose? What could I have done differently? How stupid of me to miss that!
Want to know what’s equally as sleazy and tricky as betrayal? Self-doubt! It’s funny how the actions of another can bring about deep self-doubt; as if we have the power to know what other people’s motivations and actions will be before they do them. It’s somewhat ludicrous to believe that you would simply “know” that the person you trusted would betray you. What a gift to the person doing the betraying to have self-doubt make you believe that you should have seen this coming! It completely absolves the person from taking any responsibility for their choices.
How to move beyond betrayal? First, recognize that you are a wonderful human being who entrusted someone with trust. That is a gift! Regardless of what someone else chooses to do with it, it is a beautiful gift. Second, actively challenge self-doubt. Write down all the things that self-doubt has you believing and ask yourself: is this true? If not, then you let it go. If it is, then perhaps there are some lessons to learn. Third, acknowledge that betrayal hurts. You don’t need to mask your feelings or pretend that everything is okay. Feelings are meant to be felt! And lastly, the best way to overcome the hurt of betrayal is to continue to gift people with your trust and there will be those who appreciate the gift the way it should be. That is what forgiveness is all about; letting go of what hurt you and freeing yourself from the hurt and pain so that you can be your authentic self in all relationships in your life.