Betrayal is one of the most painful human experiences. Discovering that someone we trusted has deeply hurt us pulls the reality rug from under us.
When we see the word “betrayal” we may immediately think “affair.” But betrayal comes in many forms. Abandonment, vicious gossip, and spreading lies also may be experienced as betrayal.
A damaging aspect of betrayal is that our sense of reality is undermined. What felt like solid trust suddenly crumbles. Our innocence is shattered. We’re left wondering: What happened? How could this happen? Who is this person?
Some betrayals leave us with little choice but to heal and move on with our lives, such as when we’re suddenly abandoned.
Affairs are more complex. Should we gather our dignity and end the relationship? Or, is there a way to maintain our dignity while attempting to heal and rebuild trust?
A serious betrayal puts us in a situation where we need to discern what’s best for us. It’s complicated.
Perhaps love is still alive and our partner admits his or her mistake and expresses remorse. Would it be a courageous risk to give our partner another chance or a foolish mistake to trust again? Rather than act impulsively, we may serve ourselves by taking time to sort out our feelings and find some clarity about what’s best for us.
First, take some time to heal yourself. When you have been betrayed by someone you love and trust, you will feel a great deal of pain and anger. Perhaps you may even feel ashamed that you have allowed this person to fool you. Forgive yourself. If the person who betrayed you is still in your life, distance yourself from him/her, either physically, emotionally, or both. If they are clamoring to be let back in your life and to be forgiven immediately, ask them to give you some space and time.
Let out your emotions, have a good cry. Write down your thoughts. Talk to someone you can trust. Distract yourself by doing things that you normally enjoy, and get good food and exercise. Try not to linger on negative thoughts. Certainly, do not seek revenge in anger. You will most definitely come to regret it later. Once you have regained your inner calm, only then can you forgive the other person. Some may advise to forgive first. Just as we should love oneself before we love another, we should not force ourselves to forgive when our heart is not at peace. Also, it is only when we are calm that we will be able to make a rational judgment about whether to let this person back in your life.
If you have good reason to believe that this person will betray you again, do not let this person back in your life. If this person has abandoned you, they have saved you the trouble of making this tough decision.
If you do decide to let this person back in your life, proceed with caution! Have a good discussion with him/her about how to avoid such betrayal in the future. You certainly deserve a sincere apology as well.
Finally, do not let this betrayal affect your future relationships with others. If you lose your ability to trust others, you have let fear gain a victory over love.
Remember that every individual is different and give them a chance. Keep an open heart and mind, allow yourself to trust again, and you will feel much happier.