Picking up the Pieces.
It began at the end, amicably enough, as I generally leave things in better condition than I find them. It turned out he had a black hole instead of a heart.
Betrayal is an abuse of confidence. Callous, calculated and cruel. Infidelity, especially when it happens more than once, is devastating to a person’s emotional well-being. He deceived me.
He lied and cheated. Not once, but with every opportunity he had to tell truth, for two years. She knew the truth. I had choice taken away from me.
On discovering his betrayal, faith deserted me. All sense of peace and ease were replaced with panic and defeat. Shock turned to fury, and then to disgust. As deceit on appalling depth of deceit became apparent, a hole the size of my memory opened in my brain. My hair fell out in a perfect circle on the exact spot where the confusion set in. My bones ached. My joints went stiff. My mind raced with disordered beliefs.
Had anything in the relationship been real?
His gift to me was trauma.
A wrecking ball of callous indifference smashed through the structure of my reality. Unable to comprehend, I could not plan ahead. Disbelief passed for indignation. Contaminated with lies, in my blood, on my skin, the sickness in my veins was toxic. The attack was personal and credible enough to ensure I doubted my self-worth, and I was left repairing the ability to think.
The idea everything has to be perfect is ridiculous. I had no expectations other than being treated fairly. No plan to fulfill a cultural narrative. I respect my freedom, and made no effort to contain his. I regarded the relationship as a gift, it had been important as a reflection of my own soul. My lack of neurosis would always be a question for his integrity.
Turned out, he had none.
The behavior we witness as children shape the people we become. I had learned tolerance and humility, to trust with an open heart. To believe in the highest potential of people, even when their actions demonstrate otherwise.
I have a high threshold for pain, and often don’t know when I’m being hurt.
This doesn’t make me any less worthy of care.
We are all dysfunctional to some degree, but this person intentionally involved himself in my life, to ultimately be psychologically malicious and cruel.
The message this kind of mistreatment sends a person is, they are unworthy of care, respect or concern. Their hopes and dreams are pointless.
Whatever his motivations or reasons may have been, the consequences were the same.
My association with him cheapened and degraded my life. Despite knowing it had nothing to do with me, and nothing I am or could be would have made any difference, humiliation lodged itself in my psyche. Harmful thoughts, double doubts and anger turned inwards. Fleeting thoughts of death passed through me. It made me suspicious, and eroded trust all over the place.
Most worryingly, it took me out of relationship with my own life.
Idealism was gone. I had no dreams left. I was vulnerable when I needed protection. Weak when I needed strength. Useless when I needed courage.
I was worthless. That is how it felt.
The philosopher Immanuel Kant argued that by virtue of free will, human beings are ends in themselves, and ends in themselves are invested with dignity, that is, the right to be valued and receive ethical treatment.
To humiliate a person is to strip them of dignity and deny their very humanity.
Trauma forces you into survival, it makes you inarticulate. It is at times hard to speak truth. He made me a victim, and when you’re a victim, it’s hard to stop running. For a long time, I was not okay.
As an experience of life, this is not a wrong one. Suffering, insecurity and doubt are in every way valid human experiences. Suffering is universal.
Every single life has pain in it.
A behavioral fascism seemed to be at force, encouraging me to be silent and accepting. Equipped to deal only with the seemingly confident, emotionally secure and assertive, we are intolerant of the wounded and re-victimize those who suffer by minimizing their experience.
How did we become so untruthful when acceptance, openness, curiosity, respect, kindness and a loving, generous spirit mark true substance within each of our hearts?
The wish to anchor my spirit into something solid and true, to fill myself up with beauty and wonder, took me far away to places I had not planned to go.
Love kept showing up as a fierce, protective, force.
“Be strong, Beloved,” she called.
Transforming the lies and betrayal was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. I had to rebuild the sense of who I was and my value to my own life. You learn a lot through those times. Who stood by you, who looked away, who was dismissive or impatient, and who exploited your weakness.
Life is an incredible gift. In its beauty and its joy, there is great love, strength and affinity to be found. It is hard enough in its losses without people intentionally making it worse.
Love is not in words, it’s in actions and choices.
If love is the ability to extend yourself for another, his actions cannot be classified as loving. And if not loving, then why bother?
He defined himself by his psychological problems and passed the confusion onto me.
In time, my smile returned. But time is gone.
I am sad for the time lost in recovery, and to be categorically clear, I am not grateful to people who bring bad experiences my way. Suffering and pain are not the goal of any life. I could have lived perfectly well without this, and am still unsure what purpose it served.
None of us are perfect. We all carry scars. We can choose to play out the damage caused to us by others, or become conscious, take responsibility, grow beyond our limitations, and break negative cycles of abuse.
If you’re being dishonest within a relationship, please stop. You have an ally in the world. An opportunity, a gift. Whatever aspect of your personality is driving the behavior, recognize you are acting out of the damaged part of yourself and causing further harm.
If you’re the victim of betrayal, be strong. It will pass. If you stay with your feelings, eventually you will be enriched, with a sense of your values.
I promise you this because you began in being true to yourself.
We all need to be needed and witnessed. None more than the next.
We are all worthy of dignity, loyalty and respect.
Be gentle with each other’s hearts, and please, first, do no harm.
Amor works from London as an independent wordsmith. She left the UK in 2005 to break the ties of a materialist existence, traveling alone across three continents with her camera. She published her first travel journal ‘Trajectory of Hope’ on her return. She writes to reveal truth and make sense of the world. To reflect and question, to encourage deeper consideration for the possibilities of life. She hopes to reach those who question assumed narratives, so they know they are not alone.