Betrayal

I hate this word. My son and I have words we just don’t like – Even though these words do their job, we pause when we use them and say: I hate that word.

As I work on my Shipwrecked Project I’m avoiding tackling this topic. I’ve got lots of notes on it and stories from disaster arenas. But I drag my fingers – because this one is also personal.

Because while disasters are hard and catastrophes cruel, it’s betrayals that gut us. Hollow out our confidence and take away our motivation.

Betrayals are always two edged. On one side is the trust we placed in a person. In an idea. In an institution. We believed. We invested. We loved. Where we should not have. We were wrong – what does that tell us about ourselves? About the world?

When upheaval struck, the unthinkable happened, we watched what we believed in crumble. A quake that shakes the cladding from our temples revealing the underlying structure. Making visible how this institution, relationship, project was put together. Not at all what we thought.

I’ve been gutted by betrayal. People I trusted. Love I believed in. Structures I thought were unshakable. How do I react? At first, I get very very still when information comes. That first knock of bad news on my door. Evidence that what or who I trusted – not at all at all at all what I thought.
At all.

My habit is to freeze. Wait. Very still. To study. Not react. To question myself and my perceptions. To check around to see if anyone else got this box of news. This delivery. This view.

I may stumble along trying to act as if what I thought was true somehow still will be. I don’t have the right habits to go with this new information. I don’t want to stop loving who I love or believing what I believe. Betrayal can feel like it will take us all the way to the bottom. All the way down. But it’s not the lies, the theft, the violation or violence that will finish us off, it’s our fierce determination to hang on to our beliefs, when the evidence is strong that we were wrong.

There are people that I’ve been really wrong about. Flawed institutions I’ve trusted. I’ve been wrong when the stakes were pretty high. And it has cost me and others. Shattered.

I always have a choice. I am my mother’s daughter and no matter who is in charge or what’s happening or what they’re telling me to do, I’ll be making up my own mind. Thank you very much. I may decide to follow your advice or stubbornly cling to my own ideas, but it will be a decision. Everyone else has that same autonomy. I remind myself. That same freedom to do unto others whatever they choose.

I chose to fight for you. You may not choose to show up for me. I tell you the truth and you lie and assume I’m lying too. My behavior does not guarantee yours. Contracts are made and broken every day. Those that last are treasures.

Today I’ve learned to forgive myself for trusting where I should not have. For my rose colored views and my focus on potential instead of character. I see the value of the lessons I learned. Most especially – do unto others. I don’t want to be source of disillusionment. To disappoint those hoping for me to remain faithful and trustworthy. Hoping I mean what I say and will do what I say I will.

Staying busy on that front insures I don’t spend too much time wallowing in hurt or disappointment. Looking after my own character is a full time affair.

Take the lessons and the wisdom and move on. Today.

I wrote this for me and maybe for you too.

And I think I’ll tackle that chapter on betrayal now. (I hate that word.)