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Betrayed by Family or by Ourselves?

Updated on February 11, 2021
ValKaras profile image

Val is a life-long practically oriented student of effective emotional and attitudinal responses to the many challenges of life.

Blaming Can Become so Addictive
Blaming Can Become so Addictive

A Painless Growth

Somewhere close to the end of the article the whole matter won't look so unfair and sad as the title may suggest---but rather as a great opportunity for personal growth. There won't be any "growing pains" involved that would prove true the old saying "No pain---no gain".

On the contrary, as we are about to see, it will take just certain realizations which will serve as a catalyst in a shift from suffering to inner peace. However, we first have to address those wounds of betrayal, and for the simple reasons of practicality, let's not be specific about members of the family involved, since they may vary from person to person.

For that purpose, it will be sufficient to mention "them", and the reader may do the substitution as it may apply.

What's Really the Emotional Payoff of Fixating on those Unpleasant Memories?
What's Really the Emotional Payoff of Fixating on those Unpleasant Memories?

Was It Really Us or Them?

How else but painful could possibly be the experience of those of our own blood turning cold, insensitive, and mean towards us, and leaving us in wonder about how we deserved it!

A phantom of sad and bitter memory haunting us through every future relationship while carrying the seed of suspicion over a possible replay of a betrayal. Is it that our distrust is about them or about us, as deep down on the level of that child in us we never really clarified to ourselves who back there in the past went wrong.

Oh yes, we have succeeded mobilizing every possible defence to ascribe it all to their cold, manipulative, and insensitive hearts. But the fact that we couldn't find an emotional closure speaks too loud about our questioning our own part in it.

If We Decided to Love Ourselves More, would It Still Matter What Others Thought about Us?
If We Decided to Love Ourselves More, would It Still Matter What Others Thought about Us?

Weren't We Lovable Enough?

From those deepest hurts come a bunch of questions, like---was it possible that we were not lovable enough? What was so bad about us that we deserved such a treatment? How else were we supposed to be and act to win their hearts?

That worm of suspicion just keeps digging deeper into our heart, as we remember them being otherwise right about so many other things---so what if they were also right about us, and our value as a human being?

No, it just can't be, it shouldn't be. How many times we have been through every painful detail of it, so envious of those who bragged about their nonchalant having moved on in life. Why couldn't we?

Like an eternal verdict that we can't appeal is this crazy insistence on looking at ourselves with their eyes. And we don't know what is actually hurting more---those finalizing incidents that drove us apart, or those nice memories that stayed only as a hidden property of some photo-albums.

Anger May Seem like the Right Balsam for a Hurt
Anger May Seem like the Right Balsam for a Hurt

Hate to the Rescue

Even though it seems so hard to draw that bottom line of a ledger that would add up their against our faults, we somehow emotionally manage to stumble to the resolve which makes the old saying true : "There is only one short step from love to hate."

Yes, hate can be such a balsam on a hurt. Hate and anger. No, hate, anger and despising---now it's more like it. All of it doesn't completely stay without a little payoff, as it makes us close with some souls with similar family history.

So we learn how to sing that sad song in a duet, or even a small chorus over many years that pass. The lyrics of the song regularly contain the refrain "How could they?!", which gets to be repeated in all those many versions. No answer comes. Not until we are ready to look for one.

Time to Give Self-Love a Chance

Years pass, and that initial pain has somewhat mellowed, especially around Christmas time, or birthdays that used to mean so much. And then, for no reason that we might put our finger on, there come some moments of sentimental "weakness" or something that suddenly we dare to revive, and to our shocking surprise, it's not grudges---but self-love.

And maybe that's the end of that thread to pick from that unresolved emotional mess to use it like knitting yarn for creating something entirely new. It's time to heal, time to grow. After hitting the bottom with our nose so many times, there comes the time to go only one direction that's left---up. Up to the surface, up towards the warm rays of sun, after our heart has run out of words of blame and self-pity.

Giving Love to Ourselves Pays all that Others Are Owing to Our Heart
Giving Love to Ourselves Pays all that Others Are Owing to Our Heart

An Emotional Debt to Ourselves

Maybe those silver hairs on our temples finally gained right to whisper to us their words of wisdom. Why not hear them out. Well, yes, so strange are those words, so strange when coming from that same heart which as recently as yesterday felt more like a gall-bladder releasing bitter bile, not anything like a heart.

What's this new story imposing itself to us about "owing to ourselves to love this person that we are?" But of course, all along we have loved ourselves, and it was that very love because of which we got so hurt. Wait a moment---was it really?

If we had loved ourselves, would we have allowed their words and actions to hurt us so much? If we had been so sure about our worth of human beings, what was that in us that took their words for true?

We did take them for true. If someone told us that we look like Martians, it wouldn't hurt us, because we would know that we look like humans. So, why didn't we just shrug our family's remarks as a complete nonsense?

We Couldn't Expect from Negative People to Be Appreciative More
We Couldn't Expect from Negative People to Be Appreciative More

We Did It to Ourselves All Right

While they just couldn't help being their negative selves, it was ourselves that used their behavior to hurt ourselves. The question is---why did we need the approval and validation from negative people?

So, if we would allow enough of sincerity in the whole matter, without stubbornly insisting on "their fault", we would come to the realization that we have to forgive ourselves for having done it to us.

Could we be that "bigger man" and actually feel sorry for anyone, family or not, who needs to lower us down in order to feel bigger? Could we start paying that emotional debt to ourselves by loving ourselves, validating ourselves, accepting ourselves in our human totality. Not out of a spite, but genuinely.

Let Us Save for Our Old Age only Good Memories to Cheer Us up  -  when Future Won't Do It
Let Us Save for Our Old Age only Good Memories to Cheer Us up - when Future Won't Do It

The Old Age---Time of Truth

Well, if it comes a kind of hard, what's the alternative? Let's imagine ourselves in our eighties, when our short term memory is a crap, and we mostly remember what was happening decades ago. By taking our grudge into that advanced age---what's the triumph about after all?

How did we get to win by having lost a ton of nerves, probably just as much of health, and definitely a lot of our capacity to spend those "serene", golden years at peace? Can we see that we would actually be making our family right about our "not deserving any better" - because we are not allowing ourselves to have it any better?

All that moralizing about "faults" could be instantly healed in one single and sincere smile of self-love. So, why don't we all - who ever felt betrayed by our families - stop betraying ourselves, squeeze out that poison from our hearts, and when we look in the mirror - see ourselves with OUR eyes, not theirs.


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    • ValKaras profile imageAUTHOR

      Val Karas 

      4 years ago from Canada

      Gilbert - You are so right, there is something like constructive criticism; however, unfortunately, so many of us don't care for the distinction, so they get hurt no matter who is criticizing them.

      Thank you for the interesting comment.

    • rebelogilbert profile image

      Gilbert Arevalo 

      4 years ago from Hacienda Heights, California

      It's important to recognize criticism coming from negative people in comparison to positive people, there's a big difference.

    • ValKaras profile imageAUTHOR

      Val Karas 

      4 years ago from Canada

      Rachel - Thank you for the nice comment, and I am certainly happy for you that you had no family experience of that kind. To me it feels today just like one of those touchy movies that I have seen, with someone else playing the part. At times it tends to be even funny.

    • Rachel L Alba profile image

      Rachel L Alba 

      4 years ago from Every Day Cooking and Baking

      Hi Vladimir, Not that I have the perfect family, there have been times when certain members have hurt my feelings, but to say I was betrayed, no I can't say that. I can't imagine how that must feel. I'm sorry if you have had that experience or for anyone else, for that matter. You have written a very helpful article to a lot of people.

      Blessings to you.

    • Aliswell profile image

      Allen Edwards 

      4 years ago from Iowa

      Val, as the 'held over for one more week' play I call my life, continues to pack them in at the box office-I have very much rationalized the fact that my mother dying of cancer and my dad dying of heart failure, was in no way anything that should be construed by myself as a lesson learned or punishment dealt!!

      If, however, in the overall scheme of things, there could be a potential overall 'lesson learned' by moi ,related to their abandonment of myself at a time when this 'farm boy' was about as uneducated and worldly sensitive, as you those fields and animals I tended-then to this day, I have NOT gleaned said lesson.

      On the flip side of a Excommunicated sisterly thing, well I just don't care about the 'family blood' thing, and it doesn't hurt a bit!!

    • ValKaras profile imageAUTHOR

      Val Karas 

      4 years ago from Canada

      Harry - Good for you! After all cards are dealt in life, it's up to us how we are going to play the game - hopefully with love for the game, not fussing over cards in our hands. - Val

    • ValKaras profile imageAUTHOR

      Val Karas 

      4 years ago from Canada

      Allan, my old buddy - Sometimes people don't know how to forgive. In my mind, forgiving is not "trying to forget", or "being a nice guy and just let it go". Forgiving has to have a strong element of understanding in order to be effective.

      Namely, you might try to see your parents in an entirely new light - as fallible, weak, and unready-for-parenthood, whose weaknesses were stronger than their sense of moral obligation towards you. Neuro-science is telling us that people can be terribly addicted to their emotions, including weaknesses, and sometimes they just can't jump out of that groove, similar to an alcoholic or a chain-smoker who will rather die than leave his fix.

      Think of your parents as personalities that you didn't know enough to judge them, and your hurt came out of that not-knowing-more, not understanding the emotional texture of their own possible suffering.

      So, forgiveness can only come out of that line of thinking. But above all, we also have to forgive ourselves for being too young to understand at those formative years when the hurt picked up its strength to become a life-long part of our emotionality. - Be well, my good friend. - Val

    • ValKaras profile imageAUTHOR

      Val Karas 

      4 years ago from Canada

      John - I have known people, some in my family who got very sick later in life because of an emotional hurt that they could not get rid of. It was their example, plus so many others from non-fiction literature supporting my theory that our emotional unresolved hurts can be detrimental to our overall health. If people knew the true power of thoughts and especially emotions, they would all rush to change their mindsets towards more positive.

      I am happy to see your wise realization about futility of holding the grudge and knowing that it will have to change. Your poem is mentioning your wife's have nothing to lose by seeing a connection there and suggesting to her some "emotional spring cleaning" . We can only benefit from something like that, I certainly know from personal experience. - Be well, my good friend, and have a wonderful day. - Val

    • Harry K Virgo profile image


      4 years ago from india

      Val - I can completely Relate with this ... after been betrayed by family , Me and my husband got emotionally strong and started looking life more practically . With this attitude we could actually able to start loving our life and starting taking care of our kid with mire love and warmth than earlier

    • Aliswell profile image

      Allen Edwards 

      4 years ago from Iowa

      Val--How you keep doing it, I have No idea-Again, you have penetrated deep into some hurt I have carried for so many years, and has yet to be put to rest

      I know that rationally, there is no way that my Mom leaving me at 8 years old, and Dad at 13, should continue to produce a feeling of betrayal to little ole 71 year old me, but it does!!!

      Your excellence of explanation of how we all rank our own personal hurt versus other human souls, is just a reminder to me that things could have been a lot worse for my life story, and yes I should forgive them?

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      4 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Thank you for your wise advice, Val. Both my wife and I have been hurt or betrayed by family members, and who we don't speak to until this day. I know we have to forgive and love ourselves before we can do the same to others.. but.. time will tell what happens.


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