Have you ever experienced a profound betrayal by someone you cared deeply for; or perhaps, you betrayed someone? Whether you are on the receiving end or the one wounding another, once the harm is done, recovery from the experience takes a great deal of time and effort. Suffering is the consequence of a betrayal for both parties and the first step is to take responsibility for your actions.
When betrayal is among close friends or intimate partners both parties have to begin the healing by looking in the mirror and asking, "What part did I play in this situation?" It takes great courage to be that honest, especially when you were the one betrayed. When a heart is broken, trust is lost, and that takes time to move through experience. Whatever underlying reasons for the betrayal, both parties will move through the grief process: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.
Yes, the betrayer will move through this process as well. They will have to witness the loss and pain their friend or loved one experiences and accept it was their actions that created their pain. Most generally, they will also experience a great deal of shame and guilt that will need to addressed for the healing to move forward. A piece of each person's soul is damaged when betrayal occurs, and the only way to move through the healing process is conversation and a commitment for both parties to be truthful and honest with their feelings that led up to the offense. Psychologist generally define forgiveness as, "A conscious, deliberate decision to release feeling of resentment or vengeance toward the person or group who has harmed you, regardless of whether they actually deserve your forgiveness."
First and foremost, each party must look within their own heart. This is best done with a mediator, counselor, or trusted spiritual leader. Friends and family members may offer support; however, a trained neutral party is the most effective way to find a way through the deep wounds of betrayal.
In essence, forgiveness begins within. Each party must take a careful look at the past wounds that may have contributed to the behaviors that led to the situation. Then each person must take responsibility and find a way to redeem their actions and seek a way to forgive themselves, and their friend or partner. In some cases, one of the parties may decide it's too unforgivable and leave the relationship. If that is the case, the one willing to forgive can continue to do the work to forgive themselves for the part they played in the breakup of the relationship and regain confidence to move on in their life. When forgiveness is given, each person is set free to choose the life they want, either together or separate, as a healed, whole person.
Vicky Kelm Williams
I find people absolutely fascinating!