The Truth About Betrayal

Betrayal. It’s such an ugly word. Some of us know it all too well while others may be oblivious to its pain. We may have been betrayed only once or twice in our lives or we may experience betrayal more often that we care to admit. Betrayal is like a lightening storm; it appears suddenly, shakes us up, and leaves behind wreckage…and remnants of what once was. It can be the lover who cheats on you, the friend who lies to you, or the family member who disregards your request for confidentiality. As Arthur Miller once said, “Betrayal is the only truth that sticks.” And that’s essentially ALL that it is. The [unfortunate] truth of someone’s actions when they are afraid of what they are facing.

When we are on the receiving end of the betrayal, we typically get angry. Sooo angry, in fact, that we may vow never to speak to the person ever again. I recently experienced a betrayal of trust when a confidential agreement was completely disregarded by someone I love. ‘How could he?!’ I fumed. I even told a friend, “I would never do what he did…not in a million years.” I was furious mostly because the betrayal I experienced not only affected me but also had a ripple effect on two other people.

By meeting my anger head-on, I was able to observe that my ego had a starring role in this latest drama. My ego didn’t like how I would be perceived post-betrayal. My ego also wanted to yell at the person who had betrayed me to “put him in his place.” Then I reconnected with the Truth: the person who did this to me did so because he was afraid. Betraying me was the only thing that he was capable of in that moment (he even defended his actions once I confronted him about it). Once I was willing to look at betrayal from this angle –and see that the betrayer was weak, scared, and ill-equipped to know how to handle the situation– my anger evaporated to make room for compassion.

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