Author Topic: Forgiveness of Betrayal  (Read 5369 times)

A Tout Jamais

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Forgiveness of Betrayal
« on: April 28, 2015, 03:30:29 PM »

Betrayal > Hurt > Resentment > Forgiveness > Serenity

A sequential, enlightened view of cause and effect!  In theory it seemed plausible, and therefore logic suggested that it was worth contemplating. - After a long struggle, an "Aha!" Moment had finally been reached.

I do believe that holding grudges and resentment is harmful to us and poisons our own well. It is also a waste of precious time, whose ephemeral nature is known all too well. Even the most legitimate reasons for harboring negative sentiments are ultimately detrimental to our overall wellbeing. Therefore, reason suggests to release the harmful detritus and venom to set ourselves free.

After my husband's tragic death, people whom I had loved and treasured, with whom I had a long shared history, and who promised to always be there, abruptly abandoned me. These individuals were like family to me and in turn told me that I was family to THEM. I don't have any family of my own. Consequently, I felt betrayed, deceived, mislead and shunned. They could not, or did not want to, look at the "ugly side of life". I was a vivid reminder that bad and deeply disturbing things can happen, and like a child seeing something frightening, they wanted to cover their eyes so that they could pretend it did not exist. A protective mechanism perhaps.

"Misfortune tests the sincerity of friends."
  ~~ Aesop

I was shocked and stunned by their behavior, and it felt like a physical blow, which left me reeling even more than I already was. The sum total of a violent death and mass desertion felt like being plunged into a horrifying nightmare. - Husband dead, everybody else fleeing -  my complete life had imploded without warning, like a building marked for demolition, leaving behind rubble and pulverized ashes.

"Nothing is more noble, nothing more venerable than fidelity.
Faithfulness and truth are the most sacred excellences and endowments of the human mind."

~~ Marcus Tullius Cicero


We can't control natural disasters, but these were man-made, volitional acts, by people whom I had implicitly trusted and dearly loved. It was 'the perfect storm', a confluence of events so overwhelming, that it sent me into a precipitous, deep downward spiral for a long time, highlighting the word  ALONE!

It added to my burden of grief and intolerable pain. Sometimes spontaneous outbursts of anger and resentment gave me momentary relief, only to ricochet in bouts of depression and despair. So, I finally decided to go on an emotional/spiritual detoxification program.

"To err is human; to forgive, divine."
 ~~ Alexander Pope

I realized that no matter what, we could never again be "the way we were", and I had to accept that. So, I tried to let go and forgive each one of them. One by one I visualized them and told them in my mind:  "I forgive you for whatever your reason was." But although I no longer held any negative feelings toward them and was in an emotionally 'neutral zone', I still was not able to forget, and it felt like an endless loop: Remembering, then forgiving again. It reminded me of the funny saying:

"Nobody ever forgets where he buried the hatchet."
;D

However, I did not want to continue this cycle, and so I tried to add another healing element. I mentally sent each of them blessings and wished them happiness, even lit a candle for them. Now I thought for SURE that I was done! Well, I got there part of the way. I no longer held any animosity toward these people and indeed wished them well, but unfortunately, the memory cannot be erased. When I NOW think of them on special occasions and holidays, or through spontaneous memory flashes, the former negative feelings have been replaced by an aching sadness, because they all hold a piece of who I was and were witnesses to my life.

Another unforeseen consequence of this has been my growing hesitation to trust new people, many of whom have similarly disappointed or misled me with their insincerity. Silly Me for even trying!  What looks good initially, or even for a while, can be quite disappointing later. Time is the only test!  I try not to let the disappointment poison me, but I have less and less expectations of humanity.

Here is my conundrum - instead of the 'promised' serenity, my resultant sentiments to forgiveness are deep, lingering sadness and general disillusionment. Apparently, the "forgiveness prescription" had some unexpected side effects.




Where, oh, where is Serenity??

ATJ
?
« Last Edit: May 19, 2016, 08:23:39 PM by A Tout Jamais »
"Tu n'es plus là où tu étais, mais tu es partout là où je suis."
~~ Victor Hugo

"Je me souviens de toi ... Je me souviens de nous  - Il était une fois -  Je me souviens de tout!"

sphoc

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Re: Forgiveness of Betrayal
« Reply #1 on: April 28, 2015, 04:16:20 PM »
Another unforeseen consequence has been my growing hesitation to trust new people, many of whom have similarly disappointed or misled me with their insincerity. Silly Me for even trying!  What looks good initially, or even for a while, can be quite disappointing later. Time is the only test!  I try not to let the disappointment poison me, but I have less and less expectations of humanity.


I can completely relate to this. It doesn't help that I found out after his death that DH had lied about many, many things. I know that part of this was related to his mental illness, but that and other events in my life have made me wary of letting anyone else in.

marjoe

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Re: Forgiveness of Betrayal
« Reply #2 on: April 28, 2015, 04:26:43 PM »
This sounds very human to me, ATJ.

Needytoo

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Re: Forgiveness of Betrayal
« Reply #3 on: April 28, 2015, 05:47:38 PM »
Unfortunately A Tout Jamais I understand this.  The total abandonment in my opinion is totally cruel and inhumane. Moving beyond the hurt/anger took me awhile.  I don't think I will let these people back in my life or my children's life.  One of people that I feel  abandoned me the most was my own father.  He never came to the funeral and still hasn't come for a visit.  He calls me every week and I just don't give any information about the kids and I.  I just say we are doing fine.  I do like the way you said good bye to your anti-supporters.  I did it a little different and not sure why.  I analyzed all my relationships and then came to the conclusion basically that I didn't mean anything to them in the first place.   Not sure if that is the correct way but it helped me to move on in a way. 
I really didn't like the look of my future, being alone that didn't sit well.  Very slowly I am meeting new people and actually starting to trust again.  I would say that I now have four friends that I can be open to.  That "intimacy" part was very hard thing to do.  Trusting people and opening up your heart is scary. I still tend to guard myself.   
Because my extended family isn't close my new friends our are new family.  I would like to find serenity with my father and maybe I have. 


66etype

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Re: Forgiveness of Betrayal
« Reply #4 on: April 28, 2015, 10:15:10 PM »
ATJ... I too had treasured people walk away from me for all kinds of reasons. For me losing these people paled in comparison to losing Michael. It hurt but wasn't the focus of my grief. Three years later I have decided to be vulnerable again to new people. Friends and maybe a new man friend. I feel as if I cannot go forward in my life unless I am vulnerable again. The result of vulnerability has been a release of the last of the negative feelings I had toward my "lost" friends. Life marches on...
Finding solace in this journey is so individual in nature. This board is such a treasure trove of thoughtful and sometimes emotional knowledge.

Tracy

A Tout Jamais

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Re: Forgiveness of Betrayal
« Reply #5 on: April 28, 2015, 10:42:57 PM »

Quote
ATJ... I too had treasured people walk away from me for all kinds of reasons. For me losing these people paled in comparison to losing Michael. It hurt but wasn't the focus of my grief.

@66etype

Thank you for your response. But I have to clarify something, in case you misunderstood what I was trying to express. By NO means did the abandonment by my friends compare to the unspeakable pain I felt for the loss of my husband!! What it did do, however, was to compound it by leaving me standing alone, bloodied and torn, staring at the ash heap of my life.

This post is about Forgiveness and trying to attain Serenity through it, NOT about a comparable loss to my husband.

ATJ
"Tu n'es plus là où tu étais, mais tu es partout là où je suis."
~~ Victor Hugo

"Je me souviens de toi ... Je me souviens de nous  - Il était une fois -  Je me souviens de tout!"

Bluebird

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Re: Forgiveness of Betrayal
« Reply #6 on: April 28, 2015, 10:53:13 PM »
Hi ATJ,

After loss of our love and loss of who we knew as self, the collateral losses of other relationships are so hard to take.

As I look back on my life I think the saying that people enter our lives for "a reason, a season or a lifetime" holds true - but telling the difference is almost impossible until it becomes clear after the fact!

I'm not sure I think serenity comes from forgiveness, although I'm sure it can't hurt. For me at least serenity comes from acceptance of my powerlessness and the way of the world....and it still eludes me most of the time.

Thanks again for a thought provoking post ATJ

Take care, Bluebird
My First Love, Peace Be Thine

66etype

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Re: Forgiveness of Betrayal
« Reply #7 on: April 28, 2015, 11:41:43 PM »
ATJ.. I knew it wasn't a comparison. It all happened at the same time, so losing them wasn't really a focus. That's what I meant. I'm sure if there was a large expanse of time between losing Michael and my friends abandoning me, my focus would have been different.

Tracy

A Tout Jamais

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Re: Forgiveness of Betrayal
« Reply #8 on: April 29, 2015, 12:01:46 AM »
Quote
@Bluebird said:
I'm not sure I think serenity comes from forgiveness, although I'm sure it can't hurt. For me at least serenity comes from acceptance of my powerlessness and the way of the world....and it still eludes me most of the time.

@Bluebird -

Thank you for your thoughts on this! I did not mean to imply that an all-encompassing sense of serenity can be derived from a single behavior modification or attitudinal change toward a group of people.

In this case I was hoping to find peace/serenity specifically relating to my friends. I have often heard it said that forgiveness brings inner peace, and it has been my experience in the past as well, as it related to individual people. In this case, however, forgiving them did NOT bring me peace/serenity, but lingering sadness instead. That's what I alluded to.

To attain a lasting, Global sense of Serenity is a lifetime endeavor, which no single act of will or surrender can accomplish. But even an incremental approach in that direction is desirable to me, carving out small pieces and moments of serenity in the midst of inner turmoil.

"If it's serenity you're searching for, it's close by.
All you have to do is resign as General Manager of the Universe."

~~ Debbie Ford


ATJ :)
« Last Edit: May 19, 2016, 07:34:54 PM by A Tout Jamais »
"Tu n'es plus là où tu étais, mais tu es partout là où je suis."
~~ Victor Hugo

"Je me souviens de toi ... Je me souviens de nous  - Il était une fois -  Je me souviens de tout!"

Mizpah

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Re: Forgiveness of Betrayal
« Reply #9 on: April 29, 2015, 09:00:36 AM »
I do believe that holding grudges and resentment is harmful to us and poisons our own well. It is also a waste of precious time, whose ephemeral nature is known all too well. Even the most legitimate reasons for harboring negative sentiments are ultimately detrimental to our overall wellbeing. Therefore, reason suggests to release the harmful detritus and venom and set ourselves free.

Maybe.  But I think it's not black and white.  There is a lot of grey area between forgiveness and poisonous grudge-holding. 

Honestly, personally, and it's not a popular stance I guess, but: I don't believe in forgiveness. 

I believe in moving past/beyond/away from people who are harmful, and leaving them behind.  I feel no need to forgive them, BUT I also feel no need to get emotionally stuck on the hurt they caused or the actions they took.  They're part of the past, and once the anger seeps away, slowly, gradually, they're just nothing to me, irrelevant.  I don't like the pressure of having to feel benevolence toward abusers and @$$holes and bad friends.
widowed 2011 (DH 28)

Trying

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Re: Forgiveness of Betrayal
« Reply #10 on: April 29, 2015, 09:11:07 AM »
I have a former friend who I am working towards forgiveness with. I don't believe we will return to the friendship we had but perhaps polite and civil. I need to let go of the hurt and anger for my own good. I would like an opportunity to share the hurt she caused but I need to be at a point where I expect nothing in return from her. I don't know if she is capable of apologizing or understanding anything outside of herself so talking to her would be more about me Letting go. I also want to be able to speak to her without judgement or anger because she is on her own difficult journey. I am working through all of this so it can be a beneficial conversation for me without adding harm to her.
You will forever be my always.

IfIonlycould

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Re: Forgiveness of Betrayal
« Reply #11 on: April 30, 2015, 11:27:37 AM »
Wow....you really struck a chord with me.         

"I was shocked and stunned by their behavior, and it felt like a physical blow, which left me reeling even more than I already was. The sum total of a violent death and mass desertion felt like being plunged into a horrifying nightmare. - Husband dead, everybody else fleeing -  my complete life had imploded without warning, like a building marked for demolition, leaving behind rubble and pulverized ashes. "

This was the behavior of some family members.  Shocking.  Absolutely shocking.  I have civil relationships with two of them today,  but realize they were not good relationships before death so I guess what did I expect?  The third one and I have come back together and say sincere "I love you" at the end of phone conversations.  For the first couple of years I mulled it over and over.  I had the hardest time reasoning it through I'm sure mostly because in the same situation I would never behave the way they did but they are not me nor I them (thank God) so I learned to let it go.


And I feel this as well:

"Another unforeseen consequence has been my growing hesitation to trust new people, many of whom have similarly disappointed or misled me with their insincerity. Silly Me for even trying!  What looks good initially, or even for a while, can be quite disappointing later. Time is the only test!  I try not to let the disappointment poison me, but I have less and less expectations of humanity."

So we are all here now and I think because most of us really are working on finding the acceptance of our lives and serenity in them. 
We must free ourselves of the hope that the sea will ever rest. We must learn to sail in high winds.
Aristotle Onassis

Questions

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Re: Forgiveness of Betrayal
« Reply #12 on: May 02, 2015, 07:52:19 PM »
In my case it's my family members (which sucks) 

They often hurt my feelings & seem to get some sort of sadistic thrill out of doing it.
If they're not dissing me altogether they're making condescending comments towards me or finding fault in the things I say or do.
My mom even rejected my last birthday present to her & sent me packing back to the store to return it. "How much did you pay for this thing? You paid too much.."
But if I don't accept holiday invitations from them (which I don't anymore to spare myself the discomfort) I'll be accused of alienating the family.

Forgiveness would have to come in the form of an apology from me apparently since they steadfastly deny ever doing/saying anything that might possibly hurt my feelings.
Even though I have explained it to them countless times as nicely & as non-threateningly as  possible they refuse to admit any wrongdoing. Everything is always my fault & I'll most likely hear: "I don't remember saying that, I think you're making it up!"
They complain about me to each other behind by back on a regular basis, leaving me completely out of the loop (but my mom has loose lips so I get wind of it secondhand).
I've expressed how disturbing I consider this to be, but it continues nonetheless.

Going along as if nothing were happening would to me be the same as condoning their behavior & apologizing to my abusers.
I won't do it so we've become estranged.
I'm really disappointed in them & sad to be losing my family.
I'd assumed that after DH died I'd still have them in my life. I even bought a house & moved 200 miles to be closer to my mom & step-dad. I live just 4 miles away from them now. We almost never see each other though unless there's an emergency. My mom is 85 & in poor health.  I put my feelings aside & rush to her side when she's in the hospital or needs care my step-dad can't provide. I've extended an open invitation for them both to come & live with me should the need ever arise. I DO love my family but I don't feel loved by them.

My mom & brother look the other way when my step-dad insults & humiliate me during family get togethers (usually in a public place like a resturant where I don't want to make a scene) But if I bring it up later in private I'll be accused of unfairly holding a grudge. I've been told by my step-dad  "When someone hurts your feelings you get angry & lash out. Just keep it to yourself! You talk too much!"

My mom said I was mean & hurtful for turning down family invites, especially at holidays. I felt guilty & started accepting again only to suffer more of the same so I stopped again.
My mom would then call & invite me to lunch which I'd readilly accept only to have her call back & cancel on the day it was scheduled. She did it over & over & over until I said next time you want to have lunch together, call me an hour beforehand ok? & the invitations ceased.
I'm so confused, I never know what to expect.
I've tried to explain to my mom that I have feelings too & I find this treatment painful but she quickly flies into a defensive rage & starts name-calling. The last time it happened I hung up on her. Now I'm the villian again.

My brother & his family rarely if ever speak to me. I keep them informed of mom's condition but that's about all the communication we have.
If my mom wants things to change between us & for us all to be closer (I know I do, but don't know how) then they're going to have to accept some responsibility for their end of things.
At the very least I feel I deserve an explanation as to why I'm being treated this way.
I'm open to that & would even welcome constructive criticism but I just don't see that ever taking place. I've exhausted every method I can think of to encourage honest, open communication between us all. I finally gave up trying.

I think my relationship with my family is highly dysfunctional & honestly don't want it to continue as it is. Frankly, head games drive me nuts. I've exhausted myself trying to get them to open up to me so we can begin to work through this together but I can't get past 1st base.

Still, I can't seem to bring myself to forgive & forget repeatedly either.
I'm unwilling to accept blame for crimes unknown. If I've done something wrong, just tell me what it is! Thinly veiled hostility reveals nothing aside from the fact that I'm being punished for some reason. What's the reason?!?.....     :::crickets:::

So frustrated.
« Last Edit: May 03, 2015, 02:49:00 AM by Questions »

A Tout Jamais

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Re: Forgiveness of Betrayal
« Reply #13 on: May 03, 2015, 12:03:30 PM »
Thank you to all of those who have replied and shared their own experiences with us!

In life we often come to a juncture where some wrongdoing by others has put a heavy burden on our shoulders and darkens our spirit. Carrying this extra load can make us feel weary and dispirited for a long time, and we have to decide how to deal with it. Sadly, MANY of us have experienced this, especially throughout widowhood, which seems to become an automatic multiplier for such "opportunities". ;) From reading the various stories here, and countless other posts over the years, so many of us have been let down and deeply hurt at the lowest point in our life by people whom we trusted, loved and counted on, whether it be family or cherished friends.

Each of us has to find a way of processing and dealing with this. The effects of betrayal and wrongdoing are exacerbated after we have already been dealt a cruel blow by life and feel deeply wounded. Especially if it happens on a larger scale, it can make us feel totally abandoned and alone and questioning the nature of humanity.

No logical explanation or even magnanimous intent on our part can find an excuse for such often deplorable behavior. And so, we keep carrying this load in addition to the already overwhelming burden on our shoulders, day in and day out. It seems so disheartening and is deeply troubling. Often, and understandably so, our hurt turns into anger and resentment, or deep disdain toward the perpetrators of these callous acts. Some were perhaps a bit more predictable, but others hit us like lightning from the blue sky. With rare exceptions, few of us can simply shrug our shoulders and walk away from it, simply saying "They aren't worth it!" For most of us it becomes an inner struggle to process this great disappointment and hurt, and like a dark shadow, it follows us.

I carried this burden for a long time, and my emotions vacillated between pain, flaring anger and deep, lingering resentment. It aggravated the already bleeding, gashing wound inflicted by death. Therefore, I eventually felt that I needed to do something to eliminate this additional pain. I wasn't able to change death and how I felt about it, but perhaps I could find a better way of dealing with THIS problem. And so, I thought of forgiveness and then 'letting go', thus unburdening myself from the extra load I carried. I made countless, sincere attempts, only to come full circle, back to anger and resentment again and again.

At first I tried to use logic and convince myself that THEY probably just did not know how to handle the magnitude of what had happened in my life, that it scared them, and this was the cause of their behavior. But, this explanation did not sit well at all with my emotions, which fiercely rebelled, arguing that people of any decency and integrity would not behave in such a callous, selfish manner. I knew that *I* had never done so in the past in similar situations, but instead reached out to people and tried to give support. As much as I attempted, for my own sake, to find some exculpatory reason or an ameliorating aspect to explain away their behavior, NOTHING made me feel better by even one iota.

But, I felt so crushed and overwhelmed by grief and pain that I needed to remove this additional hurtful element from my psyche. For a long time I played a mental "ping pong game" about how to proceed. I just wanted to "let go" and never look back. This was not prompted by some noble instinct or based on altruism, but purely for the sake of self-preservation. Many attempts were made, only to boomerang on me. I kept reading about it and hearing from others, including people in the psychological and spiritual arena, that forgiveness was the only answer to free oneself from this emotional ballast, and so I continued trying. How nice it would be to reach a mental conclusion and then simply follow through with great equanimity!

But what helped in pursuing this intent, was the fact that I understood that in forgiving, I did NOT condone their behavior, nor even wanted to include these people in my life in the future. We could never be the same again. I simply wanted to be free from this unnecessary burden, because it was draining my aggregate energy. In business the term "forgiving debt", is used, which means canceling and writing it off in the books, and then starting with a fresh set of numbers. So I began cleaning up my emotional balance sheet.

Mizpah said that she does not believe in forgiveness and can just leave these people behind, that they become irrelevant to her, and they don't deserve to be shown benevolence. Her ability of dealing with it seems to be so much more straightforward than the agonizing path I followed. But I am not capable of handling these emotional conflicts in such a perhaps more logical fashion.  And so I kept practicing and adjusting my mental and emotional paradigm until I finally was able to forgive and "let go". This act did indeed ease some of the great heaviness I had carried for so long. I had not done it in order for THEM to feel better - they didn't even know about it - I had done it for Myself.

"I think the first step is to understand that
forgiveness does not exonerate the perpetrator.
Forgiveness liberates the victim.
It's a gift you give yourself."

~~ T. D. Jakes

As Mizpah pointed out, specifically relating to this issue, there are many "grey" areas, which is true of most things in life. And therefore, forgiveness did NOT result in an instant resolution to my problem. My remaining, complicating factor is that while I have released the negative feelings, my mental data bank could not be erased, and therefore a lingering sadness has replaced the former anger and resentment. I wonder if I can ever leave it behind in its totality.

It is intriguing how MUCH easier it is for me to dismiss wrongdoing by people with whom I do not have an emotional connection. In those cases the anger and resentment eventually subside on their own, and these people do indeed become irrelevant and "nothing" to me. But I have always placed the highest value on true friendship and quite carefully selected people, moving Very slowly before I considered someone a friend. Once a friend, it was meant to be a lifetime bond, to be honored through loyalty and love. I've never had many people in my life whom I described as true friends. Most of them were/are acquaintances, class mates, colleagues, neighbors or even just fellow widows. Therefore, this disappointment carried much more weight.

"Be slow to fall into friendship;
But when thou art in,
Continue firm and constant."

~~ Socrates

Life, human relationships and emotions are very complex and often confusing, and the longer I live, the less I seem to understand. It would be nice to have a magic eraser to wipe out all that is troublesome to our heart and mind. Today, for instance, is my wedding anniversary, and tomorrow my husband's birthday. It's been building up under the surface for over a week, even so many years later. I wish I had an "emotional neutralizer" for this as well. - And so, the quest for a greater sense of serenity continues...




Wishing Peace and Serenity to everyone!

Namaste,

ATJ
:)

« Last Edit: May 16, 2016, 03:21:34 PM by A Tout Jamais »
"Tu n'es plus là où tu étais, mais tu es partout là où je suis."
~~ Victor Hugo

"Je me souviens de toi ... Je me souviens de nous  - Il était une fois -  Je me souviens de tout!"

canadiangirl

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Re: Forgiveness of Betrayal
« Reply #14 on: May 03, 2015, 12:30:41 PM »
Thank you, ATJ, this thread really made me think.  I have to say I am with Mizpah and the grey zone on the good friends who have disappeared.  I also reject the pressure to forgive, mostly because I feel it risks invalidating the legitimate emotions we feel at this additional loss.  I think it's okay so long as anger is not the dominant emotion.  Doesn't indifference foster surrender?  I can see how sadness seeped in for you, totally get it.  ((ATJ))