When You Have Been Betrayed
“To be betrayed, the person must first experience trust in the betrayer…
…when they do hurt us, we then have the awareness that this other person has the capacity to hurt us.”
WHAT IS BETRAYAL?
Betrayal is probably the most devastating loss a person can experience. To be betrayed, the person must first experience trust in the betrayer. It is fairly impossible for you to be betrayed if you did not trust the individual in the first place. Therefore, the definition of betrayal involves the act of someone violating your trust in them. The betrayal I am discussing in this article refers to a variety of forms of betrayal. For instance, a child is betrayed when he or she is abused by the parents who are supposed to love, support, and protect the child. A spouse is betrayed when their partner has an affair. Betrayal is when someone you trust lies to you, cheats on you, abuses you, or hurts you by putting their own self-interest first.
Betrayal as Loss. Betrayal is probably the most devastating loss a person can experience. Notice that I am using the term “loss” to describe the consequences of betrayal. In our society, we have trouble understanding the concepts of loss and grief. We understand that when someone dies we experience loss and grief, but frequently we don’t recognize the other forms of loss that we may experience in life. Loss can be losing a person to death. However, it can also be losing a part of that person such as through illness. When a spouse develops Alzheimer’s, for instance, the healthy spouse may experience loss of companionship or loss of emotional support.
Loss can also involve things that are less tangible such as trust. When an individual is betrayed by someone, they lose trust in that person. In trusting another person, we believe that they won’t hurt us; when they do hurt us, we then have the awareness that this other person has the capacity to hurt us. Therefore, we have lost something very important to the relationship.
Purposeful Aspect of Betrayal. The reason that betrayal is the most devastating kind loss is that most often it is a loss that didn’t have to occur. It only occurs because of someone’s deliberately hurtful behaviour, or their carelessness, or their own personal weakness. Unlike a loss such as death or illness, there is usually some sort of choice involved. The person who was betrayed believes that the choice was wrong and preventable.
Loss of the Illusion. Even more confusing, however, is that sometimes a loss can be the loss of an illusion. Frequently, we develop in our minds the way we think things “should” be. However, reality doesn’t always correspond with the demands that we put on life, ourselves, and others. Therefore, sometimes we are hurt when we have to face this reality. For instance, imagine children who grow up in the fortunate experience of having parents who always put the needs of their children first. But what they don’t know is that their parents are unhappy together. Those children become young adults and are confronted with their parents telling them that they are getting a divorce. Frequently, those children feel betrayed by the illusion of the happy family they always thought they had. Suddenly they are confronted with a hurtful reality.
Another example is that a man marries a woman and thinks of her as a virtuous, moral person. Later he finds out that she had numerous sexual encounters prior to their relationship. He has lost his concept of how he thought of his wife. He feels betrayed even though she didn’t do anything to break her committed to him; his sense of betrayal is the loss of the illusion of how he thought of his wife.
However, even if the betrayal is the loss of the illusion, the grief is very real and needs to be dealt with. Sometimes this is hard to do because the person is told and believes that they shouldn’t feel so strongly about something that was not an actual betrayal of them. So with this type of loss, a person is often tempted to move on too quickly without resolving it.
Sir Godfrey Gregg D.Div
Co-Founder of The Mystical Order