Chapter 37 – Why is betrayal so hard to take

In chapter 27, we discussed who is your friend.

Now lets discuss who is your “enemy” and what does it mean to have one.

While there is no book of human relations, and what we should expect from others – there are clear laws about not hurting people physically.

Yet, the most hurtful thing we may experience, may not be physical in our life. Betrayal is one of the hardest things to experience, right up there next to grieving for a loss of a loved one.

Why is that?

If we start with early human relationships, and the law of the jungle – we will see that there were tribes and families. You did not expect to trust the tribe that is not yours, as turf wars were inevitable for resources.

Then, you did not trust other families in your own tribe, as they are not your family, your kin.

In simple terms, strangers would be considered enemies by default simply because they were not members of a circle you belonged to. So you would expect harm to come from them. While it may unfounded fear and assumptions, that made sense.

Other tribes, complete strangers – I expect them to be an enemy

Other families in my tribe – strangers – I expect them to be an enemy

My family – not strangers – I don’t expect them to be an enemy

Myself – I really don’t except to be an enemy

Makes sense?

Let’s examine this logic, and see what actually happens, whether its during caveman times or now.

If the core source of all conflict is fighting over resources, why then we don’t expect our family members to be part of the pool of people who may be in conflict with us?

If there are three slices of pizza left, and four siblings… there is now a perceived conflict and a decision to be made. It also may end up in violence if there is no willingness to compromise and divide the loot equally.

But wait a second, I was assuming that my family will NOT be like them strangers, and not be my enemy… what gives?!

In order to be betrayed, you must first give trust. You must first assume that there is unconditional love and that if/when resources will have to be divvied up – it will be done, and be done fairly, and equally.

Is that a true assumption though?

You can examine it closer to yourself and discover the following: what if you also betray yourself? Can that even happen?

Say that you realized that you are not good at saying “no” to people who ask you for your resources; food, space, time, money, attention…

Say that you made a pact with yourself to stop saying yes, and begin to preserve your resources. If someone asks you for something, you will not say yes immediately and take time to think about it.

Then, the next time someone asks you for a loan, you find yourself saying yes, on the spot.

What just happened?

You betrayed… yourself. You promised yourself to not relinquish your resources, and yet, you did it again. Self betrayal.

Betrayal is so hard to take, because it can only come from those we trust. It does not come from perceived enemies as we don’t expect them to be loyal to us.

We give trust to family and friends, so that we can lower our guard around them. Otherwise, the law of the jungle will dictate our relationship day in and day out. But that sounds inhumane, and not a good way to live.

Had we not lowered our guard around those we trust, we would not get betrayed. We would simply be in an expected relationship of fighting over resources, and that is still hard to live through – but not as hard to take.

In order to gain trust, you must first give trust. In order for trust to be broken, it must first be given. Know that when you trust, even yourself, you are leaving the opportunity for betrayal as one of the outcomes.

The reason you get hurt, is because you assumed the chances of the outcome is low. Yet, that is an assumption and not reality.

I don’t intend to say that you should trust no one, ergo, you will never get hurt, and never experience betrayal. Yet, I do say that your assumptions should be re-examined in this regard, so you are better prepared for the outcome. Examining it this way will eventually help you learn to forgive, forget, move on, and learn to calibrate the amount of trust you give.

References and Quotes:

“It is easier to forgive an enemy than to forgive a friend.”
― William Blake

“It was a mistake,” you said. But the cruel thing was, it felt like the mistake was mine, for trusting you.”
― David Levithan

“For there to be betrayal, there would have to have been trust first.”
― Suzanne Collins

“If you spend your time hoping someone will suffer the consequences for what they did to your heart, then you’re allowing them to hurt you a second time in your mind.”
― Shannon L. Alder

“I used to advertise my loyalty and I don’t believe there is a single person I loved that I didn’t eventually betray.”
― Albert Camus,

“Stab the body and it heals, but injure the heart and the wound lasts a lifetime.”
― Mineko Iwasaki

“Everyone suffers at least one bad betrayal in their lifetime. It’s what unites us. The trick is not to let it destroy your trust in others when that happens. Don’t let them take that from you.”
― Sherrilyn Kenyon

“To me, the thing that is worse than death is betrayal. You see, I could conceive death, but I could not conceive betrayal.”
― Malcolm X

“Et tu, Brute?”
― William Shakespeare , Julius Caesar

“The worst pain in the world goes beyond the physical. Even further beyond any other emotional pain one can feel. It is the betrayal of a friend.”
― Heather Brewer,