The Burlesque of Betrayal

For a long time, I was haunted by the companion known as Betrayal.  He was very active in my life throughout childhood and early adulthood.  He managed to surprise me on many occasions, knocking on my door when I least expected it.  Usually, he’d show up after I’d built a relationship. With one quick sweep of his hand, Betrayal would destroy everything that I had believed to be true and good.  He made me feel like a fool for believing and his two brothers (Bitterness and Distrust) would squat in my emptied heart after he left.  I tried to kick them out but they always found a way to sneak in through the back door.

So I fought with Betrayal for many years in hand to hand combat.  The battle became more covert as I became more worldly: we had entered into a cold war.  He kept denying having access to weapons of mass destruction but the hard blows were still landing on my tender heart.  Finally one day, amidst our quiet hostilities, I managed to slip behind the bugger and yank off his evil mask.   Like that monumental moment in a comic book where the villain’s true face is finally exposed, my heart jumped when I realized who he really was:  Unconditional Love!

But HOW could that be?  HOW could this filthy wretch who has destroyed countless lives and embittered so many innocent ones be the benevolent face of Love itself?

Well, like I said recently, Love fancies costumes. Like a cheeky burlesque dancer, she will tease you in various guises.  Even dressed as Betrayal, she will eventually strip down for you and reveal her true self.  However, if you want to speed things up and unhook her from her taunting outfit, you can apply Unattachment.

Unattachment is the ability to release yourself from taking things personally and letting go of your expectations of a person or situation.

Recently, I bumped heads again with Love dressed as Betrayal.  It was someone who had created great pain in my past but after a decade of self-healing work, I had found peace and forgiveness in my heart.  In the last five years, we had built a very beautiful friendship.

When the betrayals were discovered, I was dumbfounded.  Duplicitous behaviour is particularly hard for me to stomach… I’d much rather deal with direct confrontations.  At the least, you know where you stand with someone when they are blunt.

I asked myself a knee-jerk question:  How could this possibly happen?  Had there been any seed of suspicion or doubt in my heart that could have manifested such a betrayal? After some soul searching, I could honestly testify that I had been very trusting and truly loving in my relationship with them.

And then I asked a better question…

What is the teaching about Love in this situation?

Mmmmm….this is when the Teaching gets undressed and reveals itself.  Far from being a betrayal, I realized that this was another opportunity for me to practice Unconditional Love.

When you are betrayed, the first common reaction is “shock” followed by a restructuring of your world view.  As you re-structure, you can choose to “take it personally” and live with the pain of that view OR you can choose to see it as an impersonal teaching and live with the wisdom gained.

To take it personally means that you believe this person wanted to betray you.  To live with the pain means that you will experience Bitterness and then Mistrust will taint your future relationships.

To take it impersonally means that you realize that this person was acting from a place of fear.  It was not their intention to hurt you but their fear caused misguided choices.  To live with this wisdom means that you will transcend the initial pain and learn to love them despite their errors.

To practice Unconditional Love means that I will still love this person despite the pain, despite the wrong-doing, despite the loss of integrity on their part.  Unconditional Love means that I must continue to hold space in my heart for this person.  I will keep my heart open and not cut them off from my love.

But Unconditional Love does not mean that I will allow them to abuse, manipulate or control me.  It does not mean that I will play their game.  I will only meet them on my own terms and Unattachment helps me to release my expectations of them.  If they are actually dangerous to my life or to my well-being, then I will withdraw my body from their path but I will NOT withdraw my love.

Every chance I get to unmask the Betrayer is an opportunity to realize that Fear is the cause of suffering, and that Love is the formidable panacea.  As I pull myself up by the spiritual bootstraps once again, I know without a doubt that this path is the high road.  I can happily leave behind the Badlands of the Betrayed and traverse steadily over to the Land of the Beloved…

~ little woo, April 29, 2009

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