The Pain of Betrayal

PenguinsYou cannot betray someone unless you have first been loyal to them. That’s the thing about betrayal—it is the act of taking something away that was once beautiful, valuable and rare. Betrayal destroys trust, it destroys friendships and families, and it destroys love.

I was seven years old when Miss Peabody, our Sunday School teacher, explained the meaning of betrayal. She told us all about the Last Supper and the Twelve Apostles and how one of them betrayed Jesus. And how his name was Judas Iscariot and he betrayed Jesus to the Romans for thirty pieces of silver, which she said was a lot of money back in those days.

“Betrayal is the worst thing. Would any of you betray Jesus for thirty pieces of silver?” Miss Peabody asked us.

“No!” we all shouted back. Some of us even jumped to our feet as we shouted.

But one boy did not say, “No!” like the rest of us. In fact, he didn’t say anything. But I knew he would have betrayed Jesus because he told me he wanted a new bike.

He didn’t look so sure about betrayal when he heard what happened to Judas.

“Judas bought a field with his thirty pieces of silver and then he tripped and fell into a ditch and his guts burst and spilled out and he died. And that’s what you get for betraying Jesus,” Miss Peabody said.

She also told us that as small children we cannot betray someone because a child cannot understand the true meaning of loyalty. And without loyalty, there can be no betrayal.

Loyalty is a form of trust and it is a unique bond between two human beings who understand what it means. Betrayal can take many forms—cheating, defamation, revealing a secret. Betrayal mostly takes place behind our backs, leaving us with the pain of discovery.

Twice in my life, I have been betrayed. Some people get pleasure from destroying the bond that was formed in trust. They revel in killing the hopes and dreams of others to satisfy their own egos.

And ironically, it is because people betray us that we value loyalty so highly. So much higher than thirty pieces of silver or a shiny new bike.

Buried Alive

ImageIt may be an ironic thing to say, but it is only with the passing of time that we finally see how much of it we have wasted. Most of us are buried alive in a prison of our own making, believing that we do not have the courage, the strength, the ability to be something different. To live in control.  To have focus, energy, clarity and time for ourselves.

Time is more valuable than money but we rarely see each and every moment in our lives as precious. Time is a gift that is gone as soon as it arrives.

In my early twenties, I was terrified of forming lasting relationships. I was afraid that I would get hurt through rejection, abandonment or betrayal. And as I developed my first long-term relationship, I believed profoundly that I did not have the strength to survive in this world on my own.

It was the perfect trap.

As that relationship developed, it became a hideous disfigurement of what love and friendship should be. The person on the other side of that relationship worked out early on what my inner fears were, and could therefore manipulate every shared situation for their own satisfaction. It became a living nightmare of emotional abuse.

I realized that I had traded the bullying of my childhood for the bullying of my adulthood. Worse, I knew what was happening but I was powerless to escape. Or so I thought.

Of course, there may be many other circumstances that keep you in your prison. The fear of financial ruin, the fear of losing the relationships with your children and your friends. The fear of failure, of humiliation, of starting something new from the beginning. But most of those fears are entirely unfounded, often planted by the very person and situation from which we want to escape.

It took the exposure of betrayal for me to finally muster the strength to leave. And looking back from where I sit now, I am sorry that I did not break out so much sooner.

Actually, we must never see time as wasted. Time is gone and we cannot get it back. You should only look back to help you see your way forward.

You may be in a loving, perfect relationship. But you may not be fulfilled in other ways. Your ambitions, your passions, your self-realization.

Try picturing yourself as you truly want to be. How you should be. Imagine every detail of how you feel, how you are standing, how you are dressed, where you are. Think of the people around you and how they are reacting to you, the positive things they are saying about you.

Now think about why you cannot make that picture come true. Break down every wall, every bar on the window, every lock that is keeping you imprisoned. Even small steps towards the door are better than sitting in your cell. It’s time to free yourself.

Don’t let this world bury you alive.

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