RECOVERING FROM BETRAYAL
I’ve gone through some crappy things in my life. We all have. I think one of the hardest ones to weather—one of the hardest ones to recover from—is Betrayal. It just takes the wind out of your sails. We all go through life facing obstacles, healing from pain (physical and otherwise), laughing with family, accepting or backing away from challenges; but we go through all that with others by our side. Maybe with just one or two, or maybe a group, but there are people who we consider to be in the “inner circle” of our lives. People who have walked with us, comforted us, and who we have comforted.
Every now and then, one of those people will do something unexpected. Maybe they betray your trust and expose a secret. Or maybe they just pull out of your life and don’t give any explanation or even try. Maybe they break a promise or, even worse, maybe they cheat on you.
When that happens, you go through a whole gamut of emotions. Anger, grief, shock, fear . . . the list goes on. And it can be extremely difficult to recover. I remember a few times, when I was a kid, falling out of a tree. You don’t see it coming, of course. You’re just climbing and exploring and then, suddenly, your foot slips or a branch breaks and you fall. If you land on your back, you get the wind knocked out of you and, for that moment, you can’t breathe. You don’t know if you will ever breathe. You just lie there, eyes wide, looking up at the branches and the sky, hoping your lungs will fill with air again.
That has been my experience with betrayal as well. A rush of surprise mixed with horror and then . . . the air is gone. You can’t fix it. You can’t go back. You can’t get an explanation. You just stare, straight ahead, hoping you will breathe again. And that moment can last for years.
Every experience is different, as every betrayal has it’s own intricacies that will demand unique healing. I have found several keys that have helped me invaluably in that process.
THE NEW “FAB FOUR”
ACCEPT HOW YOU FEEL
First, accept and admit the emotions. Don’t bottle them. Write them down; allow yourself to feel them. If you can bring yourself to trust anyone in that space, tell them everything you feel. Reflection helps with healing.
Second, forgive. I know it sounds cliché but it’s crucial. Forgiveness doesn’t mean what the person did was right. It’s not about that. It’s about letting them go. You don’t have to deny how you feel. That would be betraying yourself. It’s simply a matter of realizing that, holding on to the injustice doesn’t punish the other person, it only punishes you. It’s about releasing them from owing you anything, including an apology. Does that mean you would embrace unhindered and trusting relationship with them again without that apology? Hell, no. It just means you’re not holding on to that betrayal anymore—and it does not get to hold on to you anymore either.
MERCY TRIUMPHS OVER JUDGEMENT
Third—and this goes with the forgiveness part—pray that the person will not have to pay for what they did to you. I know you might be thinking, What? I’m serious. This step takes a bit to get your head around because justice would validate our suffering and maybe, just maybe, teach said Betrayer a lesson. But it doesn’t, trust me. There won’t ever be enough retribution to heal that wound. Have you ever read that odd scripture verse, “Mercy triumphs over judgement?” It’s true. It does. There is something mysteriously powerful about mercy. It’s unnatural, but it’s powerful. My own heart has been healed dramatically by following this principle.
Fourth—and this step might take some time—pray for blessings to pour down on the person who betrayed you. I know it seems like this is like the final big PARDON for someone who deserves to suffer. At the very least, they should have to live their lives feeling a little bit guilty. I spent many years having a thorn stuck in my heart from a betrayal by a friend when I was in my twenties. I had forgiven her, and I had released her, and I had prayed she wouldn’t have to suffer for what she’d done. But still, if I heard about what she was up to or that someone else I knew had seen her, I would feel that familiar pang of bitterness.
It really frustrated me because I really wanted to let this thing go. I didn’t long for reconciliation or a chance to vent anymore, and I didn’t need an apology. I just still felt angry. One day, the idea came to me to pray that this person, this ex-friend, would have a beautiful life. I know it sounds simple—it is simple—but it was like a healing balm on my heart. Every time I would hear about her or think of her, instead of trying to overcome the anger, I would pray, “Papa, help her to have a beautiful life.”
That was the single most significant prayer I uttered in relation to that damage. I know it has healed my heart in so many ways, and I hope that it is healing hers as well, wherever she is.
The bottom line is, there is no quick way to recover from betrayal. It’s nasty. But there are some simple steps you can take (not easy, simple) that will make a huge difference.
Remember, whatever betrayal you may have faced, or are maybe even facing now, you are not alone. It doesn’t mean that what you are going through is old hat. It just means that there are others who get it; who understand your pain. There is One in particular who understands betrayal very well. He has suffered it for centuries, and knows from personal experience that it is not an easy thing to live through. If you find yourself in a particularly low place, find somewhere to sit. Take a deep breath. And ask Him to help you. He is close. He understands. And He is the healer.
Are you recovering from betrayal right now? Do you have something you want to share about your experience or a question you want to ask? Comment below and I’ll get back to you asap.
Thanks for reading <3 Janna