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Betrayed by Family - or by Ourselves?
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 will 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.
Was It Really Us or Them?
In the name of all deities ever believed - 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.
Weren't We Lovable Enough?
From those deepest hurts comes 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.
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.
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 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.
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 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.
Not a Theory but Experience
For the most of you folks who may think that "it's easy for me to talk about these instant solutions because I have not been there" - suffice it to say that in all likelihood your personal story of family betrayal was a bed-time story comparing to mine.
So, you are right, I haven't been "there" - I have been in something that would give most of the people a good nervous breakdown and make them scarred for life. My solution was within the words of this article, and I am sharing my experience, not copying some pages from a textbook written by a geeky ex-momma's boy who graduated psychology.
Nothing of any of my articles is that. There is something of my life in all of them, and here I shared with you my realization that one way or another we always do it to ourselves - good or bad. That's the only way to reclaim our power - by realizing that we have been using it all along - for us or against us. And ultimately it's self-love that makes the whole difference.