Betrayal and beyond

Betrayal is a word of hyper significance and as such offers pain and suffering to all on the receiving end of it - that includes most if not all of us at one time or another in our life. I would like to suggest that to be betrayed, although shocking and extremely painful, can become an opportunity for us to re-evaluate and take charge of our lives. This demands courage and honesty; to look at ourselves and try to work out events that have led up to our betrayal.

For, I would also like to suggest that, a long time before the act of betrayal is uncovered or acknowledged, we have spent a long time turning a blind eye to what has been going on in front of our eyes. We are blinded by confusion, by particular circumstances happening at the same time, by where we are and who we happen to be listening to.

Of course no particular act of betrayal is the same as another; many and shocking are the ways in which one human being can hurt another. Famous betrayals abound in the Bible, in History and in Literature. They involve betrayals of and by siblings, fathers, lovers and friends. They all contain the same ingredients: trust, respect and love which has turned sour. They suggest that love is not a certainty, a fixed state. These tales teach us that an expression of love one minute can turn into hatred and cruelty the next.

Human beings all need love; we are programmed from the minute we are born to rely on the love of our mother/caregiver in order to survive. Perhaps for the rest of our lives we crave the unconditional love we had from our mother at our birth: that one to one special relationship that was for a time our whole world. Even if our mother/caregiver was neglectful or unkind we never cease to strive for closeness to another human being. We are all easily flattered; easily hurt despite the shell we create to protect ourselves. We are therefore all ripe for betrayal. 

Falling in love is an especially vulnerable state and we are most likely to be tempted to turn a blind eye to any fault in the one we love. It is in this 'madness of love' where we can make our severest blunders and for a while we become unbearable; to others and to ourselves. For some people the pain of love is too great a risk and there are those who choose not to venture down this route. They are only too aware of the risk of being hurt and of being betrayed and for them it is too unbearable an experience, too great a price to pay.

If this is the case, then those of us who do risk betrayal and dare to dive in should feel proud of ourselves. Proud that we have taken the risk, that we have trusted someone, proud that we have been hurt for a person we felt truly to be worthy at the time. To be made a fool of is humiliating and causes us to feel overwhelmed with grief and sorrow. This kind of hurt attacks our very ego and has to play out its round of excessive bouts of rage.

There is life after betrayal. The rages do calm down, the sense of perspective does return. We become that bit wiser, some of us become suspicious of people's motives forever. Perhaps a healthy suspicion is the right approach - midway between blind naivety and cynicism.

However, if this pattern continues to repeat itself and we become locked in a cycle of desperation and need then we must look to a way of breaking this pattern. Nothing good ever comes out of desperation; unless it is the desperate need to understand ourselves better.

Counselling Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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Cambridge, CB4
Written by Rose Driscoll, Registered member MBACP, MA
Cambridge, CB4

The mind is naturally drawn to feelings and thoughts, that is its nature. It daydreams and worries, it gets bored, it wanders. It is natural for us to experience strong emotional feelings: anxiety, sadness, joy, envy, hatred, anger. if we allow our feelings to come and go then we don't need to worry...


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