Don’t Blink.

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“When we were children, we used to think that when we were grown-up we would no longer be vulnerable. But to grow up is to accept vulnerability… To be alive is to be vulnerable.” ~ Madeleine L’Engle

Yesterday, I was driving home from an appointment. On the curb, where I turn into my street, a father with his two-year-old sat where the olive trees grow. The sun was high over head at noontime and the light filtered through the leaves, leaving shiny patches on their smooth tanned faces.

Peals of laughter rang out from both father and his son, who was at the moment, having a ball playing with a plastic bottle cap. He held it up and played with as if it was a prized possession. There is magic in toys of this sort that can entertain for hours.

Both father and son were having the time of their lives. Chatting it up and laughing up a storm. So full of energy, that if they had done an impromptu rain dance a cloud would have surely appeared.

I rounded the corner, and slowed to a snail’s pace in case the boy decided to dart from where he was sitting, as young children often do.

I started feeling the wave of a blush fall over me as I realized I had entered and was enjoying their intimate moment when I wasn’t an invited guest to the party. I offered a little wave out of my embarrassment right as I passed them. The little boy waved back to me in the same way that my children used to when they were little. He waved his tiny hand, holding tightly onto the bottle cap. My heart turned into a puddle in my chest.

On autopilot, I parked the car in front of our house and got out to go inside. But, as my car door shut, the duo pulled me back to them like a magnet. Instead of walking to the door, my feet took me down the block toward where they sat. Continue reading

Betrayed & Still Breathing (A sequel to Betrayed).

Betrayed & Still Breathing.

I recently wrote an article called Betrayed and the outpouring of support, love, and questioning was unexpectedly incredible, humbling and unlike anything that I have experienced thus far in response to my writing.

I realize that most people have been betrayed in their lives. And, most people have also betrayed another at some point. So, there is a lot of common ground surrounding this unfortunate, yet unavoidable issue.

An old expression keeps coming to mind and gives me pause for thought:

“When you point a finger at another person, remember that there are three fingers pointing back toward yourself.”

When I look deeply enough at myself, although it is not fun to do, I can find a lot of truth in the above quote. It is so easy to blame, but we also need to find the common thread that is called ‘being human’ and get on with life at some point.

But how?

Must we forgive a person right away after a betrayal—or at all? Do we need to stay friends, lovers, or acquaintances? Do we push a betrayal to the back of our minds in an effort to stay perpetually positive?

I also remember this:

“Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”

I don’t think there is any recipe that is right for all people or that will serve us well in all instances. There are too many scenarios to consider. But to acknowledge and maybe even accept the imperfect thread of humanity that runs through all of us does serve us well.

Does this mean we forgive? I believe so, and I’ll tell you why. I have heard that:

“Bitterness is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” ~ Joanna Weaver

And this makes a lot of sense to me. If I allow my heart to harden and become jaded, what does it do to the person I have been betrayed by? You guessed it—nothing.

Instead the anger, sadness or hurt can grow fast like a cancer in my own spirit and that is definitely not what I want.

So what to do? While I am still fairly early in my journey, I already feel more at peace with the situation. And there are a few steps I have taken that helped get me to this point:

1.  I acknowledged the betrayal.

I realized the seriousness of it. I didn’t push my feelings down about it and generally faced the truth about what happened.

2.  I communicated with the person who betrayed me and set boundaries.

This I did on my own terms and in my own way. But I clearly conveyed that I was upset and what I expected if the relationship was to be righted again.

3.  I realized that it is up to me to feel better.

I have purposely done more fun activities recently. I have gone out and spent time with people whose company I enjoy. I can’t expect my betrayer to feel badly or comply with my wishes.

4.  I have realized that all apologies are not created equal.

This one is tough, as it is not pleasant to get a half-hearted apology—still we must not take this personally either. (At this point I would like to point out that an apology that contains a ‘but’ in it is no apology. “I’m sorry, but. . . ,“ never turns out well, as the person making the apology is still making excuses for their behavior instead of owning up to it.)

5.  Number four does not matter—really!

Back to drinking the poison—a betrayal with a bad apology is a double betrayal. And no matter what the outcome, it is up to us to get over things. Yes we may have been tight with and emotionally dependent on our betrayer, but re-read number three which leads me to the next step.

6.  Forgiving is a lot like meditation. Keep coming back to your breath.

Focusing on our breath is hard to do in meditation. We purposely have to redirect our mind towards the sought after path.

The same is true with forgiveness. I demonstrated it in steps three through five. We forgive. Our mind wanders back to the pain or anger—at both the betrayer and ourselves (for falling prey). Then we redirect to being responsible for our own feelings.  And repeat again and again.

But shouldn’t we be allowed to feel sorry for our poor betrayed selves?

Sure. That is a definite option. But not one that I would choose or wish upon anyone else.

It is a good bet that I will be focusing on my “breathing” for some time as I still feel like a semi-burned piece of toast. And yet, I am starting to scrape the blackened part off a bit so I can live with myself comfortably once again.

Stay tuned, many blessings, and if I can do this, so can you!

Betrayed

Betrayed

This is a bit of a sore spot, but part of life. Unfortunately, no one is immune. At least it was no one in my family and hopefully someone will be helped by something I have to say, even if it is to only recognize that they are not alone.

“Betrayal is the only truth that sticks.” ~ Arthur Miller

 

Change is good. I have said that aloud, myself and have even written about it. So, I am going to be grateful for this opportunity in this moment, for growth, even though I was betrayed in one of the worst ways that I have ever been to date.

So, “I have been betrayed.” There, I said it.

Out loud.

I am now left wondering how to skim the cream out of this curdled and stinky mess and learn from it while still honoring the part of me that was betrayed to the core of my possibly-too-open and too-trusting heart.

I am wondering if my title is reflective of what this article will be about, or if I am too wrapped up in my pain and hurt to offer an objective view on this topic.

And, I am wondering if that even matters.

Maybe this is what being raw is about. Raw can be good. Maybe this will help someone else. Maybe this will open me up as a person and as a writer, much like a fire does for a seed in the forest. Maybe this article is a risk worth taking. Perhaps, I will connect with a new audience.

Now, I am going to move forward, as I feel this is an important message, even if my wounds are fresh and I am still left licking at them. So—here I go! Please join me as I continue—as no one is immune to the unwelcome beast of betrayal.

Betrayal is an interesting concept once one gives it an honest and thorough think-over.

The main thing about betrayal that differs from other hurtful situations is that there is always a choice (usually moral) made by the party who betrayed you—and this is what makes betrayal so painful, in my opinion.

Yes, someone made a choice—either conscious (terrible, I know) or unconscious (also terrible) not to take your best interest into account when they betrayed you. Either way, you are left to feel the deep, cruel sting when your heart is carelessly handled by a person who you have placed your trust in.

I’ve come to the intriguing conclusion that one must care about the betrayer to be deeply hurt by them.

I suppose it could be called a light betrayal when one gives money to a stranger for food and then said person buys a beer. My guess is that this won’t be keeping anyone up at night in a state of hurt, confusion, or abandonment. No, one has to care about and trust the other person to be betrayed.

I have also come to believe that it is up to the person who has been betrayed to do the healing.

An apology from the person who has betrayed you is largely meaningless. If they had broken your favorite (insert material item of meaning) and apologized, that would make you feel better, right?

Not so with a betrayal, because guess what was broken? (Hint: it lives in your chest, beats 70ish times each minute and is affected by trust issues.) Yestrust is the key word here. And trust does not, and probably should not rebound quickly. For me, it can take a long time to profoundly trust someone to begin with—and if that trust is tampered with, I am left to ponder these questions once again.

trust

So, deep betrayal (is there any other kind?) happens when:

  1. You care about the betrayer.
  2. That person makes a choice to hurt you.
  3. The trust that you have invested is broken.

At this point, I think it is important to simply acknowledge that being betrayed sucks.

But, where is one to go from this point in order to heal?

This is challenging because you can’t look to the person who chose to break your trust.

I am early in this journey of healing, but I am going to try to take the take the advice I might give another:

  1. Understand that the betrayal was likely not personal even when it naturally feels that way. People who betray others are most likely misguided and probably motivated by unresolved issues in their own lives.

For instance, if someone says something confidential about you behind your back, then you are not the one with the problem. It is the other person who has something to work out within their life’s journey.

Because betrayal involves a decision, it is a purposeful act, i.e. there is some aspect of betrayal that was done on purpose. Betrayal can be motivated by countless reasons, but I think the seven deadly sins represent the basics of most betrayals—wrathgreedslothpridelustenvy, and gluttony.

2.  It is not up to me to take care of the person in their regret, even if I still care about them.

This is a time for distance and reflection. I think betrayal is a signal that a relationship needs to be put on hold for a while so that it can be carefully evaluated.

 3.  Coming to grips with the fact that you had an elusive idea about who your betrayer was.

When one is betrayed, everything that they thought they knew about their betrayer is turned upside-down.

This is not a time to berate yourself for trusting someone that you were fooled by. Instead, remember that the person who you trusted is the one at fault.

Should you trust this person again? Not necessarily. This is dependent on too many factors to list, but there is a litmus test that I find a very good guide to follow, and that is one’s gut feeling about the situation.

There will be times to forgive and then there will be times to part ways, but your gut and your heart will tell you. Now is the time to listen carefully to your own intuition.

4.  Give yourself time to grieve and don’t move on before you are ready.

Depending on the seriousness of the betrayal, there may be a significant grieving period that one needs to accept as real. And in any grieving process, there are steps that we progress through from shock all the way to acceptance.

Hopefully we are not often betrayed. But when one’s heart is open and willing to take risks and believe in others, it is bound to happen. Do we shut our hearts down and stop believing in others? I don’t think so.

Although we may want to recoil from people and life situations, I don’t think it is good to harden one’s heart and become wary of everyone.

Still, it is important to listen to what our hearts whisper (or scream) to us and to show our injured hearts a lot of extra love during the healing phase following a betrayal.

~

I am working all of the above out myself and I will keep you posted as I learn more on my journey.

With peace, love, while never waving a white flag of surrender (‘cause I’m a fighter), Laura.

Contemplating the meaning of the word BITTERSWEET.

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Contemplating the meaning of the word BITTERSWEET.

Do you have a special word that seems more important than the others in the scheme of your life? for me that word is bittersweet. Here are some of my thoughts (click on link):

http://www.elephantjournal.com/2014/01/contemplating-bittersweet-the-past-the-future/