Tuesday, April 26, 2016
Standing strong in the midst of betrayal
~Maria Popova, Brainpickings
Oh, the mute shame of betrayal. It's not enough that our hearts have been shattered, our reality threatened, our future uncertain. If we've chosen to stay with our cheating cad of a spouse or we're a parent to children of our cheating cad of a spouse, we're also frequently handed the task of grinning and bearing it. At least publicly.
Which can lead to stomach-clenching fury. We suspect the rumours are flying, we don't think we're imagining the whispers. Besides, we see it all the time whenever a celebrity or public figure cheats. The speculation. The judgement. The smug certainty.
And yet so many of us stay silent.
We have our reasons, of course, such as not wanting to expose our children to the mess. Seeking the space to decide for ourselves what's next without input from well-meaning (or not so well-meaning) friends and family. Needing the time to absorb what happened and gauge our partner's response without society's judgement.
We might also want to protect our partners from repercussions. Their career might be jeopardized and we don't want our or our children's financial futures threatened. We may want to shield them from our family's scorn. Or their family's.
At the top of the list of why we stay silent, too often the reason is shame.
But what those who might shame us or judge us will never understand is what Einstein has called "the humanity and nuance" of any relationship. They don't know us.
But we do. And that notion of who we are must remain firm in the midst of this storm or we risk losing ourselves. If our sense of self is already shaky, we need to strengthen it. We are not who others say we are. And, as Popova writes, "the assumptions made by those that misunderstand who you are and what you stand for reveal a great deal about them and absolutely nothing about you."
Betrayal challenges us in so many ways but most damaging of all, it threatens our sense of who we are in the world.
We are not what happens to us.
And we are not a one-dimensional character – the betrayed wife – with a one-size-fits-all response to the experience.
Stand in your own integrity and make choices from there.