I believed him, what a mistake.
I was betrayed.
Have you ever stood up for someone and helped them, only to discover you were “played” and lied to? That's what happened to me. There is a good chance it has happened to you too.
Now what do we do?
There are 5 solid steps to dealing with betrayal and healing the wound.
Every hurt has its story. Maybe your's is that you were deceived, used and abused. One new widow learned about “the other woman” when she showed up at the funeral. The widow was angry and wanted answers from him but it was too late for that. Maybe, like that widow, you had a deep bond of love and trust that has been ripped out of you by the roots and it hurts.
Healing from this kind of deep wound needs deep healing. It is a process. Part of us wants to:
- deny it, minimize it or fix it – so we don’t have to face the reality and pain but that is a lie
- retaliate and make them “pay” – sweet for a moment but ends in more problems
- make some sense of why they did it – but they may not even understand it themselves
- forgive, release and rise above it – which is hard work and unfair but ultimately brings freedom
Forgiving is what will set us free. It is not the same as condoning. Forgiving is giving up the hope of better or different yesterday. It does not involve the other person – nor waiting for their apology. It is your release for yourself, a gift to get you out of this black hole of anger and rejection. You do it alone and you do not announce your forgiveness otherwise, that can be perceived as an attack and can backfire.
Forgiveness also comes with health benefits. You may notice your body thanking you for lower stress levels, a healthier heart, higher pain tolerance, lower blood pressure, and even an extended life. You may sleep better at night and be less distracted.
It may not seem fair that we have clean up their mess they made in our lives but if we wait for the offender to make it right that might take years, if ever. Sometimes they are self-deceived and sometimes no one can make it right. When the criminal driver killed my son, he got a jail sentence but that could not bring my son back, nor could my holding a grudge or living as a victim.
Forgiveness is tough and can be on-going but eventually freedom comes, freedom from living victimized, angry and bitter. To release and forgive, it helps to face the brutal reality, grieve it, and get out of the muck by releasing their IOU. If it keeps knocking at your door, it may be because of how brutal and deep it was so and persist at re-releasing until it’s muck is finally washed off you.
Here is how to get free of the betrayal in 5 clear steps:
1. Name it and face it. Be truthful without glossing over it. Yes, it really was insulting, awful, violating, degrading… evil. That is where the healing starts.
2. Feel the hole inside and express your emotions privately and safely, mourn it. For many people it feels like it is rising out of their belly and out their throat.
3. Write your thoughts in a paragraph or two and then your decision to release and forgive them. Read it out loud to “God” or to “the universe”, committing to giving it away to God or the universe, asking them to make it up to you in whatever way is best and then tear it up. Restitution may come from a totally different direction then you might expect. Repeat this internal commitment every time the anger comes back. It could take weeks but it is worth it.
4. Avoid self-pity by being of service to someone worse off then you (call them, volunteer, donate).
5. Find something in the event that made you stronger or wiser, that you learned, or a skill you developed. It is not calling the betrayal good, but it is finding a silver lining. It is calling on your inner resourcefulness to rise up and find something useful in it. It maybe your decision to ensure it does not happen to you or someone else again or to establish smart personal boundaries or to refusing being locked in with bitterness. I am fascinated by epigenetics, which has discovered generational trauma on descendants' DNA. What if your forgiveness is overcoming a negative family DNA propensity to withdraw or to fear when betrayed, imagine if it could reset DNA for your future generations, that would be a silver lining too.
Betrayal catches us off guard and wounds. However, as we mature we get better at coping, forgiving and letting it go. Things that bothered us before do not crush us and we accept the ups and downs of life with greater confidence and empathy to the suffering. We become caring people of muscle and character, who rise above storms and overcome adversity. We live happier, healthier and more peaceful lives.
Big hugs and love,
If you are facing loss, find out if you are on track and the best ways to renew resilience. For a complimentary coaching "How to rebuild a life again" session with me, Helga Bender, MThS, contact me through my resouces page or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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