The Upside of Betrayal

No one needs to tell you that betrayal sucks. It’s a piercing pain formed from grief, anger and confusion. It steals your ability to trust, both in yourself and others. It calls everything into question and provides no easy answers.

There is no refuting the fact that betrayal is horrific. Only the sadistic would choose to go there and most that stumble into its path want nothing more than to be free of its grasp.

But turn that betrayal over, look to see what lies underneath.

There are some upsides to betrayal.

In the beginning, these assets are hidden behind the overwhelming pain. But they are still there, just waiting to be found as the mud and grime of the betrayal is washed away by time and tears. Some of these blessings are more easily harvested than others. See what you can find underneath your suffering.

Empathy

When we are not experiencing pain ourselves, it can be difficult to empathize with those who are within its grasp. Betrayal is lingering pain, not easily forgotten. As a result, you may find that you are more understanding and gentle with those around you who are suffering. You can use that ability as a gift – help those that are in pain and your pain will recede.

Self-Reliance

Before the betrayal, you probably saw you and your partner as a team and you looked to him or her to take care of certain things. There is nothing wrong with a team approach, but a long relationship can slide into over-dependence. When you are betrayed, your trust in others is shattered, so you turn to yourself. You may be surprised at what you’re capable of when the “I can’ts” are replaced with the “I have tos.”

Responsibility

This pairs with self-reliance. When you have been betrayed, the first instinct is often to lash out at your partner, laying all of the blame at his or her feet. If you’re honest with yourself, after that initial anger is bled, you will also shine the light inwards. Not to blame, but to understand and take responsibility. You realize that you can never control another’s actions but that you can always control your response. You learn that you are ultimately responsible for your own happiness and well-being. It can feel like a great burden at first. But then you realize the freedom. You always have a choice.

Clarity

If your partner resorted to gaslighting, story telling designed to make you feel crazy for questioning signs, the realization of betrayal can almost come as a relief. The “off” feeling or constant self-doubting is put to an end as the truth is finally revealed. Even with gaslighting, there a lucidity to be found. Often the betrayed have been unable to see the truth, turning towards some facts and away from others. The revelation of betrayal is like putting the last piece in a puzzle; the bigger picture is revealed.

Connection

Some find that betrayal ultimately strengthens their marriage, the pain leading to more open and honest communication. Betrayal deals a death blow to other relationships, one or both partners unwilling or unable to address the underlying issues. Regardless of the specifics, the betrayed often form deeper and more meaningful connections with someone in their lives. The time after betrayal is characterized by a loss of trust but also an increase in vulnerability. If someone can gain or hold your trust (a friend, a family member, or even your partner), you are unencumbered by many of the defenses that keep people at arm’s length. Those connections that are formed are priceless and can help you learn to trust again.

Confidence

This is one of those deeply hidden gifts. At first, your confidence will most likely take a huge blow. You wonder what is so ugly or deficient about you that your partner chose another. You question yourself endlessly, berating yourself for being a trusting fool. Stop that insulting dialog for a moment. Think about your strengths. Your aptitudes. Think about how you are a survivor and you are making it through. Think about it and believe it. You CAN do this. You CAN move forward. You CAN trust again. You CAN love again. Think about it and believe it.

Acceptance

This is the ultimate upside. You cannot change the past. You cannot change your partner. You can cease the winless struggle of trying to make things not as they are. That’s your starting point. And where it leads is up to you.

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21 thoughts on “The Upside of Betrayal

  1. Betrayal and the shattering of trust is emotional violence and when it is done on the level in which you describe, which I myself have experienced first hand, there is a level of calculated malice that I myself found no reason to forgive.

    My wife passed in September and the number of knives she had shoved in my back with each of one of betrayals prior to her death was such that it took a woman I had known a decade and a half a long weekend on the beach to remove these knives. There will be permanent scars from these wounds as with anyone who has experienced the level of betrayal you describe.

    For myself, I am thankful karma played her hand and removed an abusive person from the lives of my children and self. The say karma can be a bitch but karma can also roll into town and gently remove the knives left in a husbands and fathers back by a deceitful and malicious spouse.

    Cheers……………………………………………………………………..

  2. Thanks for this blog! The point about confidence was what I needed to hear. My husband cheated 2 months ago, we’ve decided to work it out but his in fidelity is constantly on my mind. We have 5 year old twins, and they love their father, so deep down im happy I stayed but it hurts me so much everyday I look at him. I have so many thoughts raging in my mind that I cant control right now. Im just a sucker for love I guess. Been with him for 15 years, high school sweethearts.

    1. It makes sense that it is constantly on your mind. It takes time and consistency for trust to build – months and years. It’s also normal for healing to come in waves. Some days you may be okay and then some trigger will send you back. Do you have an outlet for your feelings? I highly suggest journaling to work through the thoughts and emotions.

      Hugs to you and the kiddos!

  3. Well that was indeed well written, I am sorry you went through all of that as I know how it feels but you are clearly handling it with grace. Yes, how incredible is it to see all the I can’ts turn into I have tos and then ultimately, I DIDS. Some days, I do wonder if the pain will ever go away.

      1. thank you so much for sharing your insights and experiences even as they probably were painful to write. i am a 45 yr old 8 yr stroke survivor whose husband left for another woman 2 months ago. i am swinging constantly between pain/hurt sadness/bitterness and rage. so i go from sweet n understanding/hopeful n trying to raging n sending terible ugly messages. sometimes it doesnt seem an end in sight. thank you so much for sharing

        1. Wow. You have a lot on your plate right now. So sorry for your circumstances.

          I can relate to the swing of emotions. It’s so common as we’re trying to adjust to a new reality while also hoping that it’s not really happening.

          I can’t say that there’s an “end,” but much like I would expect you’ve found with stroke recovery, it gets better and you get better at navigating through it.

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