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Oh that dreadful word. But we’ve all been there, in one way or another. What is betrayal? What is the ultimate betrayal?

I imagine it varies from person to person.

Ultimate betrayal could be:

  • A best friend sharing all your secrets to another person(s).

  • Someone making up lies about you.

  • Someone you thought you could trust turns on you.

  • Family turning on you.

  • Your church turning on you.

  • Your spouse or partner cheated on you. Maybe just once but that’s all it took. Maybe you decide to work through the betrayal and “see” how things go but things will never be the same. Or, maybe you allow the cheating because you fear being alone or don’t know where else to turn.

  • You suffered abuse.

  • You were a victim of identity theft or someone framed you 

  • Someone you completely trusted scams you out of thousands of dollars

  • You’ve endured some other type of financial betrayal: a business partner cleaning you out, someone forging checks to your account, a spouse dying and leaving you with nothing, or investments gone sour by some crook. The financial list could go on and on.

  • Perhaps someone murdered someone, committed suicide, had an abortion, lied to you about your birth or family, or told you they were on birth control…but weren’t! YIKES!

Betrayal for you could be raising a child and they end up turning to a life of crime, drugs and alcohol. Maybe this child was someone you adopted and rescued from extreme poverty and from an unsafe home - only for them to turn out hating you. Or, it could be vise versa and your parents abandoned or neglected you.

Maybe betrayal to you is a close friend or family member choosing another religion, joining the military or telling you they are gay. Maybe you feel betrayed by God himself.

Whatever the reason for the betrayal, it eats at you. Tears you apart inside. How could this person do this? I trusted them. With my life! Betrayal is having the trust you put into someone broken. You question everything.

  • What did I do to deserve this?

  • Is it my fault?

  • Could I have stopped this?

  • What if I were smarter, seen it coming, paid more attention, would I have been able to stop this?

  • If God really loved me, this would not have happened.

  • If there was a God, he should have stopped this so there must be no God.

Once betrayed, you may find yourself in an isolated and lonely spot. You fear others intentions. You wonder if you will ever have trust again in your life for people.

  • What are their real motives?

  • What do they want from me?

  • How do I regain the trust for my spouse after what they did to me?

  • How can I ever share secrets with another friend?

  • Why ever love again?

What if you betrayed yourself? Said and/or acted a way that was out of your character? Can you blame it on a fit of rage or “being drunk” or “high”? Is that a valid excuse? 

Betrayal of self might be the hardest one to digest. If you can’t trust yourself, do you look at everyone else as being a potential betrayer? So do you continue betraying yourself? Others? Since you think yourself and/or others are all betrayers, you shut the world out. You might think: 

  • I’m not gonna let anyone in and not gonna let anything come of me out!

  • I’m gonna sit here with my arms folded and watch life pass me by. Keeping everything close to me so I can’t get hurt.

  • Who cares? I hate life, I hate people having babies and getting married and being happy. I hate everything!

There is a safety net of self protection in shutting the world out. But it only feeds the hurts, the pain, the betrayal.

Betrayal definitely will define you. Trap you. Hold you back from really living. But once betrayed, how do you go back to “pre-betrayal days”?

Maybe you can’t remember that far back. Maybe it’s still too fresh so you don’t even want to think about it.

  • Do you forgive? Is it that easy?

  • Forgive others…forgive yourself?

  • How do I forgive? After what I did? After what they did to me?

  • How can I say I forgive someone for the horrific things they did?

  • How can I ever look in the mirror and forgive myself?

Yes, it defines you.

Of all the kinds of betrayals the human race can perform, how do you define what is the ultimate betrayal? I can tell you from experience, I have suffered many forms of betrayal and I think the hardest thing to deal with is, unforgiveness. That is what binds us up the most. That is the glue that will forever unite you and the betrayer together. The act of betrayal is now done and over with, yet you are still holding on to it. Caressing it, talking to it, nurturing it. The person or persons in your life are onto other things. You probably haven’t seen them in years. Maybe they are already dead and yet you are still giving them permission to keep destroying your life.

Why would I ever say unforgiveness is betrayal? One definition of betrayal is “to give aid or information to an enemy.” Is it possible to think that by holding onto unforgiveness, you are continuing to aid and feed the enemy? The betrayer? Yourself? Are we the enemy at times? Only hurting ourselves?

Another definition is “to be false or disloyal to.” Would it be safe to say that if you have been betrayed by a trusted friend that you can’t seem to forgive and let go of, you are being disloyal to yourself?

  • They hurt me so I am going to continue hurting myself by hating them and talking bad about them. Then you start acting self righteous towards others as if your walk is blameless.

Now you are just stirring up cocktails of your own betrayals for someone else to forgive. But you can justify it because:

  • They did it to me.

  • I had no other choice.

  • They deserved it.

It may be hard to let go of the blame we hold towards someone because we think they deserve this punishment of my wrath, bitterness, resentment, shame or feeling unloved. It’s most likely affecting us more than the betrayer. And this so-called “betrayer” needs another name like, “exhibit A” or something. They need not have such a status in your life. Letting go of unforgiveness opens up the door to a freedom you would never have enjoyed otherwise. How can someone even say that?

I know you can’t just, “let go“ like it’s some deep, inner exhale or something. I definitely do not think this is an overnight process or can you just wave a magic wand and poof…I FORGIVE! It can take years to forgive. Even in death, some will still carry unforgiveness to their grave. You cannot judge your process or how you feel in this moment. I believe the more time you spend thinking about how it would feel to let go of the unforgiveness, to imagine the benefits of living in the present, and believing you really can let go, you will have less clutter in your mind to think of instead of your hurt and pain.

Of course, forgiving does not mean forgetting. Nor does it mean you now think it was ok what they did or you’re never going to talk about it again. It doesn’t mean it doesn’t still burn in your chest when you think about it and you want to say how much you hate that person or how they wronged you. It doesn’t mean that you never pick the unforgiveness back up and hold onto it for a few days…longer. You can still be angry, but it doesn’t own you. It doesn’t lead and guide your life. It doesn’t make you who you feel like being today. Forgiving is empowering because YOU are in charge now. Maybe you just think of the offense or the offender but never talk to them again. You can release and forgive them without speaking to them. They don’t need your forgiveness - forgiveness is for you.

  • You can forgive a cheating spouse, but things are gonna change around the house!

  • You can forgive your friend for telling lies but no longer be that person’s friend.

It’s hard to digest and really absorb the fact that you were betrayed. You might say things like:

  • I thought this would never happen in my life.

  • This was not the way my life was supposed to turn out.

  • My kids weren’t supposed to end up this way.

  • We we’re going to live a long life together, surrounded with family.

And on and on. This just locks you in a place stuck in your misery and self pity.

There comes a time when you need to swallow that nasty awful pill of reality and accept that…

  • Yes, I was betrayed. And I may be betrayed again, but life doesn’t stop here. It can’t. 

  • Yes, my child did not turn out the way I had hoped for, but they are still my child and I love them anyway.

  • Yes, I made many mistakes, some too horrible to repeat out loud but I am in charge of today and can live a better life.

  • Really terrible things have happened in my life but I refuse to sit in this comfortable bed I made of unforgiveness, bitterness, isolation, depression and anxiety.

Trust me, there’s freedom in it.

You must hold onto hope that: I can (and will at some point) not only just be able to read the following, but will be able to believe and do the following:

  • I will comb my hair and brush my teeth (for some, myself included, this has been very difficult at times.)

  • I will open the curtains and see the sunlight.

  • I will go grocery shopping and cook dinner for the kids.

  • I will spend time with my friends and family.

  • I will attend marriage counseling. I will get counseling myself.

  • I will remove myself or my children from this abusive relationship (seek help depending on your safety.)

  • I will speak at least one kind word to myself and others.

  • I will humbly apologize and attempt my best to make things right with the person(s) I have issues with.

  • I will FORGIVE myself. I will LIVE. This ultimate betrayal I endured will not hold me back from living.

Life as I knew it will definitely never be the same, but it can still be worth living…just living it differently…through forgiving eyes.

Lindsy Brewer

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