Let’s talk about an experience that many people (many, many) have unfortunately had to live. It starts as a normal day, maybe you have some strange feelings that something fishy is going on and then you find something that was not meant for you to find — and in a second your entire life unravels. Everything falls apart. The truth is that we don’t know what is in our future because the future is unpredictable. What about our past? When you trust someone and then one day you find a digital trail of their transgressions, it’s easy to start to question your past and to think you can no longer rely on anything that you thought was true before. It is said that up to 80% have experienced some sort of betrayal in their lives. Some experience it as a child, as a sibling, or as a lover. In relationships you can be the victim, the strayer, or just a friend who was watching from the sidelines. Unfortunately this is one of our most common experiences but is also one of the least discussed. I am hoping that by sharing my thoughts on this, based on my own experiences and lessons learned, that it can one day help someone else that finds themselves going down this rabbit hole.
In a world where we are so connected by technology, we are also pretty disconnected. It seems like we are all having the same types of problems and conflicts, yet we don’t really talk about them much. Once upon a time, the wise person of the town sat in the square and everyone talked in public and now this all happens in an office behind closed doors. We have access to this information through books, websites, blogs, podcasts and other methods, but we are easily overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information out there. How can you even know where to start or how to digest all of it? I think the key is to share our experiences.
In my story there are two people, not without problems, but generally a good fit. Could we have overcome this? Absolutely not. Did I want to at the time? Absolutely! To be fair, I was a crazy person throughout this. The way this all happened, so suddenly and without much warning took me to some craaaaaaaaaazy places. Almost to the point that I could not even recognize myself with my obsession to find the meaning and truth of it all. This is a huge reason why I say that we could absolutely not overcome this – because I was left to find the truth and explanation on my own, and where I didn’t find the explanation I had to fill in the blanks.
There was no talking, no discussion because everything that came from the other side was a lie. Actually a lot of lies. So the number one question becomes why? What were you looking for so bad that it was worth risking and losing everything? The reality is that there are two sides to this coin. So I’ll talk about my side and the other side.
On my side of the coin there are questions such as what was my contribution to the relationship? Did I do my part or did I just show up? Did I really put the best of myself forward in every opportunity? Did I give what I wanted to give or did I give what the other person needed? In relationships, we often will give to the other not only what we ultimately want but what we want the other person to give to us, and that’s not the way it should be. These are important questions and I can see what what I offer best in a relationship is stability. Security. Safety. Love. These sound like simple things, but for many it can be a challenge.
What does that leave? Adventure. Surprise. Novelty. Freedom. This is the other side of the coin, things that are not my strong points. These are not the things that I typically look for, or deliver, in a relationship. I enjoy them now, as a single person, but when I’m partnered up, I really dig in to the other side. So, we can assume that, if paired up with a person that needs these qualities in a relationship, they might find themselves searching in other places for these needs to be met. This doesn’t excuse the behavior by any means, but it shows that without morals, without integrity, someone could get lost trying to find themselves. They are not leaving the person they are with, but leaving the person they have become. It’s not that they want to find another partner – they want to find another version of themselves. Maybe even a lost version of themselves.
And in the wake of all of this growth, expansion and self-discovery there is a person left feeling hurt, betrayed and rejected. It’s selfish. It’s entitlement. All of it could have been avoided by having a difficult conversation.
If given the opportunity, and knowing what I know now, what would I have asked? Were you looking for this or did it just happen and you didn’t resist it? How did you justify to yourself that this was okay? Did you think about how this would affect me? Did you want me to find out or did you hope I would never find out? All I needed was an acknowledgement that I was hurt. Just a glimmer of concern for what happened and maybe a sprinkle of remorse. The bottom line was that there was a violation of trust and whether or not there was any guilt about the action itself, there should have been an expression of guilt for betraying the commitment that we made to each other. What I needed was to understand why you did this and how you got to the place where you were okay doing this.
It’s probably for the better that I never got the answers to these questions. In the search for meaning and understanding, I found a lot of proof and painful validation of exactly what happened (with great detail). I found a greater understanding of who I am and how relationships work. I know exactly what my needs are and what I am able to realistically offer. The way this unraveled is not ideal in any way, but it had to happen exactly as it did for me to find my own way.
Here’s a Tony Robbins quote: “What happens when the worst day of your life becomes the best day of your life?” That’s exactly where this story takes me today. This experience sent me on an adventure of learning, growing and understanding. I have some amazing friends. Not a lot, but the ones I am close to are an extension of my family. Those that have seen me through this entire journey provided the same basic needs: a calm demeanor, structure in a tumultuous life, and reassurance that I would get through this. They were there for me and listened to me as I figured out what I needed to do for myself.
I know a lot of people come out of experiences like this with a lot of issues, mainly with trust, fear and faith. Rachel Botsman says that “Trust is a leap of faith or engagement with the unknown.” Although I put all of my trust in a person that ultimately let me down, I have not lost my ability in trusting in love again. As I look to the future there are two forces: fear and faith. “Both are about the future, both convey something that is unknowable, both are experiences of life, and both are built on your imagination. The only difference between the two is that fear is imagination undirected and faith is imagination that we consciously direct to create what we want in life.” Without faith there is no future. If we allow fear to dominate our life, then nothing will last.
The lesson here is clear. You are not simply a manager of your circumstances. Divorce your story of limitation, of pain, of being injured, or of being a victim and marry the understanding that you are the creator of your own life. You can change anything if you own that responsibility. If you want something to change, then you have to change. If you want something to get better, than you have to get better.