I was gently lifting the smashed lid off my soft boiled, free range egg, when something on the news caught my attention.
Two things about this were very unusual.
The first is that I almost never make myself a soft boiled egg.
As I walked to my kitchen, dog prancing in anticipatory excitement around my legs, I suddenly remembered my grandson voraciously eating his first soft yolk a few days earlier. As a child I loved eating soft boiled eggs, surrounded by warm toasted soldiers, that were so thickly buttered that the butter melted into the runny orange yolk, turning it a shimmery pale yellow.
The second unusual thing is that I rarely listen to the news, especially in the morning. Mornings are usually for slow rising, hot showers, deep silent meditations, brisk walks with my white, four legged lap-dog, followed by a quiet cup of tea and toast.
The radio broadcaster said France was telling the world that Australia had betrayed them. At the time I had not even heard the reason and yet I was unexpectedly saddened to hear this. The word betrayal is so poignant.
As I listened I heard Paris has expressed a feeling of betrayal after Australia went back on a deal, forged in 2016 to buy French submarines. Canberra says the decision was necessary for Australia to meet its strategic needs.
Now, the fact that we are spending 50 billion dollars to buy nuclear war vessels deserves a far deeper commentary than I can offer but, it did trigger me into thinking about what are the long term effects of betrayal.
Al Pacino, in the Godfather asked, “You know the saddest thing about betrayal? It’s that it never comes from your enemy.”
Betrayal is possibly the most devastating loss, (besides the death of a loved one) a person can experience. To be betrayed, the person must first experience trust in the betrayer. It is almost impossible for you to be betrayed if you did not trust the individual in the first place. Therefore, the definition of betrayal involves the act of someone violating your trust in them.
To trust, there needs to be a strong feeling that somebody or something can be relied upon, or will turn out to be good. It is the feeling of being sure about something, even if it cannot be proven. So when a trust is broken there is a sense of grief and loss. Working with the shock and anger and ultimate sadness of grief an loss, takes time. It needs to take time because so often we want to react and retaliate after a betrayal. Reaction always comes from our emotions and usually leaves us and others, in an even more painful place.
Sometimes, however, we are so attached to our perception of who the other person is, that when something occurs that is not in alignment with that perception, we feel betrayed.
This is the illusion of betrayal.
When is betrayal not a betrayal? When we have made assumptions about an agreement, or about another person, an idea or a situation and there is not the expected outcome.
~~~ We expect our friend to keep our confidence but find out he discussed our personal situation with someone else.
~~~ We sign a contract on moving into a flat four years ago, agreeing to a two-week notice, and the landlord informs us that we have to move out in exactly two weeks.
~~~ You marry a healthy loving woman and she becomes seriously ill and remains physically and emotionally dependent on you for many years.
~~~ One country agrees to buy submarines from an allied country, and even though there is an exit clause in the contract, the buyer changes its mind and decides to buy from another country.
All these situations feel like a betrayal and yet they are illusions of betrayal. The grief, loss, pain and anger however, feel exactly the same. Dealing with these strong feeling is very hard to do.
A feeling is a feeling. The feelings themselves are not bad. Feelings in themselves cannot hurt us. What we choose to do with those feeling however, can hurt us.
The journey of healing from a betrayal or an illusion of betrayal begins with expressing and accepting how we feel.
Eventually if we trust the healing process, we finally get to a point of acceptance.
Acceptance does not mean agreement.
Acceptance that this event happened enables us to make a choice about what action to take now. Every course of action depends on the situation. Every betrayal brings us feelings and emotions that not only hurt, but take time to heal. If we give ourselves that time and the space to consider all options, regardless of whether the betrayal is personal, national or global, we are more likely to choose our next step through wisdom and understanding.
Whether we choose to remain in relationship with the person who we feel betrayed by, or not, one thing is for sure, we have learned some valuable information about them. This person or these people are capable of betraying us, and as such, any further interaction will require discretion and discernment.
The strange thing is, I’m not sure my visceral memory of eating a soft boiled egg has been forever corrupted. Obviously it’s too late to un-hear the news, but as I tossed the empty egg shell in the bin, I have to admit, I felt a little betrayed.