Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Betrayal and Healing

This post is dedicated to two dear girl friends who are finding their way back.

Betrayal hurts and there is no fast and easy way to heal from its effects.  It takes more than time.  It takes a heart that will not harden.  Krystal Kuehn 

You find out that your husband is having an affair.
You find out that your wife is having an affair.
You find out that your partner is having an affair.
You find out that your best friend wants your husband.
You find out that your best friend wants your wife.
You find out that your lover doesn't want the same things that you do.
You find out that your best friend told someone your secret. 
You find that a person you thought was a friend has stabbed you in the back.

There is 'no worst kind of betrayal'.  Betrayal is betrayal. Betrayal which ever way one looks at it, is no fun and recovering from it is no picnic.  I would hazard a guess and say that most of us, if not all, have experienced betrayal in some form or other during our life time.

No matter how one experiences betrayal, it will change your view of and feelings for, the betrayer.    It doesn't matter whether it's husband, wife, girlfriend, boyfriend or friend, that's the reality.  Relationships with spouses, lovers and friends are based on trust and the breaking of trust can have devastating effects. Betrayal affects the mind, heart and spirit.

Betrayal involves a sense of loss and so it follows, there will be pain, anger and grief.  That's the bad   news.  The good news is that we can survive betrayal. It's not totally impossible for a relationship after betrayal to be healed even though the violation of trust is so painful mentally and in most cases, physically too.  Some relationships survive the betrayal, others no matter how hard the parties involved try,  do not.

There is a process to be gone through.  First of all there is disbelief  and when the truth sets in, shock quickly follows.  From here on, interaction with the betrayer will not be the same.  How could it be?  Emotions of all kinds surface. Immediate anger, feelings of unreality interspersed with feelings of self doubt, blame, self blame, denial and grief  all of which can make us angry all over again.   We have to give ourselves time to acknowledge these emotions and to grieve.  Most of us come to the realization with great sadness, that the relationship we are grieving for, can never be quite  the same again. That marks the beginnings of the healing process when the only emotion left to feel is a deep sadness.

I have (had) a friend, a very good friend.  We had been through a great deal together.  She is not everyone's cup of tea and I was warned by numerous people that if ever anything went wrong, she'd eat me alive.  I chose to ignore all those warnings.  I knew how she could be and yes, she was a little rough around the edges but my reasoning was that  I saw a different side of her - the gentler side, the caring side - or so I thought.  I'm normally a good judge of character and rightly or wrongly,  have always tended to make a decision about someone the first time I meet them.  But we can all become distracted or sucked in and decide that we were wrong about that person - especially in the event that he/she seems to be much nicer than you originally thought.  Well the burning news is that the first decision you make (in my case anyway) always turns out to be the right one and if in the meantime, you did allow that person into your life, the results after a run in can be devastating.

Around this time last year something happened involving a close member of my friend's family.  Because of its serious nature and the people involved, it inevitably blew up into a scandal.  Because I have legitimate access to certain information I knew about it before it hit the ground.  I did not discuss it with anyone.  My friend was not aware of anything until the scandal broke.  She then became furious with me because she knew that I would have known of the situation and her thinking was that as we were friends, I should have given her the heads up.  She was not interested in my reasoning that what came to me was confidential and even as a friend, I would not disclose what I knew. 

It did not stop there.  As a result of her anger with me and in a bid to cover her own involvement in the scandal, she proceeded to spread lies about me, to assassinate my character and worst of all spread the rumour amongst my colleagues and peers that I was the one who ensured that the scandal broke.  Nothing could have been further from the truth. People who have known me for years began to believe her  It became so bad that I threatened legal action.  Whilst keeping a brave face throughout the weeks that followed I was very angry, hurt and the toll was illness.  I had been betrayed.  Not betrayed in the sense that she had divulged some great secret I had shared but betrayed in the sense that she had stabbed me in the back.  A normal reaction to betrayal  is to want to retaliate. That doesn't solve anything.  It only lengthens the time it takes to heal. 'An eye for an eye........' is definitely a bad idea!

It has taken me most of the last nine months to come to terms with what happened. At the beginning I was very angry with myself that I went against my better judgement and first instinct which was not to allow her into my life. Oh I really beat myself up over that one and became very tired of the 'I told you soes'.  I hurt, I cried and I grieved.. Then  one morning I woke up and told myself that I was using up energy on something that I could not do anything about.  So in my mind, I forgave her. I prayed for her and I forgave her. I forgave the lies and the betrayal of the friendship.  That does not mean that I will ever interact with her again.  I won't.  But that's my decision and the path I choose to take.  That path is not for everyone. 

When we are grieving we  become distracted. We may not look after ourselves properly.  We can become so tired that  we don't even know what day it is.  It can seem that we are on auto pilot. We get through each day because we have to, trying to ignore the empty hole in the pit of our stomach and the nausea that can come with the emptiness.  Emotional tiredness is the worst kind of tiredness - no one other than yourself suffers.

After a betrayal one has to decide whether or not it is possible to salvage the relationship.  All parties have to know up front that the likelihood of the relationship ever being the same as before, is highly improbable but that doesn't mean it can't be worked through. For a start, the betrayed may find it hard to feel safe again, to trust again and even show love again and it is then up to the betrayer to put their best foot forward and do all in their power to make the other party feel comfortable once again.  Healing takes time, working through broken relationships takes time. In a marriage or a committed  relationship, counselling may be of help to those who wish to forgive and move on but have come up against a stumbling block.  Whether we stay together or part the most important thing in the healing process is the ability to forgive.  Never easy but an essential ingredient if we are to live the rest of out lives without bitterness.

For those of us who believe in God and pray, there is an enormous comfort in knowing that no matter what, He will never betray us.

Jesus was betrayed.  He knows all about betrayal,  The betrayer sent Him to his death.  Our betrayers send us down that path and a little of something inside, as a result of their actions against us, dies.  But healing and forgiveness give us the edge - every time.

Barbara M Lake  ©
April 2011
Trinidad W1


  1. I'm afraid I could never be so forgiving. I can let go of the hate, but forgive...? No.

    I feel sorry for the woman who tried to tear you down. She had a person who tried to be her friend.

    That is a pretty amazing thing that I have learned about you, Bee.

  2. IMO it's not cheating but a look of apathy that knives through the heart and scars the soul. That look has done far worse damage than other's passions (or mere appetites) gone astray, because it's the death of a soul. And I agree with your summation. There's comfort in that, regardless.

  3. A Rabbi I knew informally once that he believed that the scriptures had acceptance and forgiveness confused. Some years later in a lecture given on the translation of the dead sea scrolls it was mentioned that in the original language of the scrolls these two words were used interchangably.

    I must accept that the unacceptable has happened and I have misjudged the level of friendship and trust I invest. For me to go on with my life I must not remain in denial over a betrayal. And I must accept that this former friend behaved in this horrid manner. But forgiveness in divine and I don't know that us mere mortals have it within us.

    When I was young I totally shunned friends that had betrayed my trust. Now I am prone to give them that superior indulgent smile and walk away. Very often I never walk back into their lives. Oh, we will meet and exchange pleasantries in my small community. I will ask about their health and not listen to the answer.

    Regardless of the level of friendship before the betrayal it never goes back to the same. Intimate Enemy - How to fight fair in relationships talks about blows below the belt that forever change a friendship. And using our intimate knowledge of an individual to strike at their Achilles Tendon - the death knell of any love or trust.

    I have to accept I had them wrong, that they could do the unacceptable once, and certainly might well do it again. I must accept I made a mistake in trusting them. I don't ever have to put myself in harms way again.

    Let God forgive them.

  4. this is such a good post. it is sooo hard when you've been hurt like that.

  5. This is a great article on what betrayal looks like and feels like. We have no choice in the matter of accepting because we cannot change the actions of a betrayer. However, we do have a choice in forgiveness although I agree with Jacqui, for me it has not been possible. Let God forgive them is right on. For now, I pray for my healing before I pray for their forgiveness. Thank you for a great article. Rae Z. http://betrayedstayathomemom.com.


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