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Surviving betrayal


Symora
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I was reading an article elsewhere on the site that I found very interesting because it is relevant for me. It is an interview with Holli Kenley, MA, on Surviving Betrayal.

Ms. Kenley became highly attuned to the idea of betrayal after noting it as a common theme in multiple clients and dealing with it in her own life. Her efforts to understand what people refer to when they say "betrayed" resulted in her identification of three common experiences or states of being: confusion, worthlessness, and powerlessness, which she describes as stages that occur in that order, respectively. The difficulty a person will have in processing a betrayal and moving through these stages is affected by multiple factors, including one's personality or ego strength, the degree to which the betrayal affects identity investments in particular social roles, and the chronicity of the betrayal (whether it is a single event or a recurring theme). People who have experienced multiple and chronic betrayals may find that they are dealing with a pool of residual betrayal, in that they have come to identify themselves as a victim and have low self esteem.

Betrayal has been a very powerful force in my life and has moved me in strange directions. It started at home when I was a teenager where I was rejected for being different, and has reoccured enough to have created a form of trauma in me I think... how have you worked through betrayals? Were you able to maintain your sense of worth, your self-esteem?

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Hi Symora. Betrayal can leave you confused too.

Although I hate the choices my father made for us I know he made them because he thought they were the right thing and because he loved us. I don't know how to reconcile his betrayal of me with my knowing he did me. It's hard. :)

Edited by Endlessnight
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I agree. What I find difficult to reconcile is that someone who is supposed to love us can do this to us. I liked what she said about the stages - confusion, worthlessness and powerlessness. I imagine it was even more accentuated for you since you were to certain extent powerless given the rules of the regime in SA. Perhaps what you were doing in fighing your family to go see your mum was about trying to reaffirm your lost power ...

I can very much identify with these three stages. At first I was completely confused, like how can this truly be happening to me? This person can't be doing this to me... trying to merge my sense of the world and my values with such an ignoble act. Then it was if this was done to me it must be because I truly have no worth, because if I did he could not have done this. Then it's the feeling of being powerless to change the situation. In this last situation of betrayal it took me two full years to reaffirm my power over my life and feel I was worth making a stand. With my dad it too 25 years or so, with my first husband at least 5. I guess that must mean I'm getting better at dealing with it :-)

I think I am now a more guarded person because of these deep betrayals though. I don't trust like I used to (although perhaps I was too naive anyway...) and frankly I'm having a hard time reconnecting with people at a deeper, more personal level... I think my wall of protection just gets higher every time.

Edited by Symora
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Symora,

I can very much identify with these three stages. At first I was completely confused, like how can this truly be happening to me? This person can't be doing this to me...

I know exactly how you felt; the feelings of confusion, worthlessness and powerlessness can be overwhelming.

I think I am now a more guarded person because of these deep betrayals though. I don't trust like I used to (although perhaps I was too naive anyway...) and frankly I'm having a hard time reconnecting with people at a deeper, more personal level... I think my wall of protection just gets higher every time.

Again, I know how that is. But I know you are a caring, compassionate person Symora, and I know that when a person comes along that is worth you letting down those walls for, you will know. Don't not trust, there are still plenty of good people out there.

Take care. :(

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Thank you Endless.... He's been trying to make contact by e-mail again. He is on summer break from teaching and bored out in Alberta. I have not been answering his e-mails, but it is making those stupid feelings of worthlessness and confusion arise again ... I wish he would just give it up!

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I can very much relate to your feelings Moon. My dad died 3 years ago and left over $1M. My mum told us and said we would not have to worry about taking care of her. She sold their condo and is now living an retirement residence at $5K a month. That is her privilege of course, and she has been nice in giving us more cash for Xmas for example because my father was cheap as well, but mostly she is blowing the money. Last year she blew $200K. I know I'm throwing numbers around, but my sisters and I can now see that the money will be gone perhaps even before she goes.

My father had worked very hard, saved for years and years so that they would have a good life, but also because he was ensuring that we would be OK for life as well if we were not foolish with our inheritance. He had it all planned. But she is squandering it, literally, as if it was without bottom. It's all about her being a big lady with beautiful clothes, hair, nails, furniture...

People can be selfish and totally without foresight sometimes. I guess your dad figures it's his money and his happiness that are at the forefront - people will do stupid things when they are wooing someone. It's not that I wanted their money, and I never counted on it (thank Buddha...), but I find it such a foolish and uncaring thing to do. Sometimes I just don't get people ... is it just me who is so naive :confused:

Edited by Symora
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I also cringe when I think of what she is doing and what my father would have thought of it. One of my sisters who was very close to my parents can hardly stand my mum now - calls her the mean girl, like the mean and uppity high school girls. I was never close to my mum, and we still don't see each other that much although we are friendly, so nothing has changed that much for me. My dad believed in the <I made my own money, so you make your own>, but he also was concerned for his 4 girls and wanted to be able to leave something behind to ensure we were OK. It's a shame it's being squandered.....

Life is strange. My grand-mother used to always tell me not to worry about the future, that my father had enough that we would be taken care of (my father had never shared how much he had although he lived well). I would tell her that I did not count on his money at all since you never know what can happen... Maybe I'm psychic or something :)

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It's serious in that it's life changing stuff though.... I've given a lot of thought to the importance and purpose of family in the last few years since mine has dwindled and I've been confronted to another model that is all about family and clan. I've though a lot about my Xs tribal responsibilities and obligations. I've come to the conclusion that both have their advantages and disadvantages.

I know I cannot be anything but the independent spirit I am though and thank goodness I born into the culture I am in or I would have been in big trouble! I follow the beat of my own drummer, and I am by nature a breaker of tradition :) How the heck was I supposed to know that his world was all about La Tradition ... that really is quite ironic :cool:

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Hi Symora, hi Moon. I've just read your posts and I want to say how sorry I am. It is hard to have to stand by and watch people we care for and think we know, change like that and behave so recklessly. That's what usually happens when it comes to financial matters though.

When my father died suddenly (he was hit by a speeding car while crossing the road and died of his injuries) we found out he was deeply in debt. My brother blamed me for squandering my father's money, despite the fact that my father borrowed money so my brother could go to university in the States (where he didn't actually do much studying; all he did was party so my father had to bring him back after almost two years with next to no further education), then, when my brother was home, my father again went into debt to pay for my brother to get married.:mad:

Some of the people he had borrowed the money from forgave him his debt and my uncles paid off the rest.

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Your brother sounds like a real number, a selfish person. In your other thread I could really sympathise with your being unable to be subservient to him. I too am that type, I cannot be what I am not, I can't or else it drives me mad.

The only family I am close to really are my daughters. With them is it real and mutually supportive. Otherwise my family are people I get together with once in awhile to celebrate something and exchange stories with, but for support they have never really been there for me. Maybe that's why I never really counted on the money. I've always known I'm on my own...

Edited by Symora
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Interesting. It feels like you are doing a spring cleaning ... getting rid of the cobwebs of sorts, facing things as they are and learning to accept that - one of the joys of getting older, the settling in of wisdom...

Perhaps it is because we both have that time for reflexion, undisturbed contemplation. I have a lot of that now, more than I have had since I was twenty in fact. In a way I feel like am going through another adolescence of sorts, coming to realizations about myself and the world that I had not before and it's shaken up my life. For one thing I realize that I want a very simple life now, something that has caught me by surprise. I have always been a very busy, active, almost frantic type of person. Lots going on, lots to learn, do. But I crashed about 5 years ago, and then it go really difficult with O., and I bought a house a little off the main track so I became more isolated, and I took care of my 100 years old grandma a lot. I started pulling away from a wider world. Then my grandma died, O. was gone, all the volunteer work had faded because of other responsibilities and it felt like I was left out there alone in the desert. But as all the propets have experienced, there is something very powerful about being out there alone, face to face with yourself. It is both a frightening and very empowering experience, and there can be some very rich learning there.

I am only now learning to live to my own rythms, and because they are much slower than they used to be I am not comfortable with them from a psychological standpoint. It is very difficult for me to not be able to <produce> like I used to. Solitude can also whisper foolishness into ones ears where there is too of it for too long, and that is not easy to discern at times without feedback from others. That's why I'm going back to volunteering, to break the isolation...Do you have a few very close relationships Moon? For me my relationships with my girls is what saves me. They are loving, sincere, trustworthy and pleasant relationships, and they are what keep me grounded and secure in the knowledge that I am not too out to lunch :)

Edited by Symora
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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi guys. I like what you wrote Symora:

Interesting. It feels like you are doing a spring cleaning ... getting rid of the cobwebs of sorts, facing things as they are and learning to accept that - one of the joys of getting older, the settling in of wisdom...

There are joys to getting older, wisdom (hopefully) being one of them.

Both of you sound like you are at a place where you know what you want and, more importantly, what you don't want. :(

I have a few cobwebs of my own that need to be got rid of but it's like I can't reach them. Why am I so unable to help myself? I want to be able to but I seem handicapped by my own inability to act on anything or even take a step back and see what needs to be done. I feel so helpless and useless. :)

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Endless, I hope you don't mind my saying this, but you are in a situation that renders you helpless :( That is the whole point, to make it almost impossible to do anything but submit .... If all the rules were taken away I think you might find that you feel less helpless because you would indeed have more choice and option, according to your values and temperament. I think you do amazingly well considering your family circumstance. I feel that if you got the chance to live on your own, where you would have more peace of mind, you might feel better. I say that because I was put in a emotionally difficult situation with O., but I now that I have made the choice to live alone I am finally finding peace of mind and it has helped my depression so much. Circumstances that are difficult to live play on our moods for sure and yours has been challenging for a long time.

It does sound that you have managed to carve yourself a sort of niche in your brother's home though, and that you almost live separately, sort of like a granny suite of sorts :) But when you live next to a crabby neighbour it's not easy :)

Tell me how you are enjoying life now that you no longer have 2 jobs and shorter work days? Are you managing to fill your time or do you now have too much time to think ??????

Edited by Symora
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Hi Symora.

QUOTE]Endless, I hope you don't mind my saying this, but you are in a situation that renders you helpless That is the whole point, to make it almost impossible to do anything but submit ....

What you say is true but I remember that before I got used (not that I ever did really) to my situation I fought long and hard against it. I would cry, scream, not talk, not eat....everything I did made no difference, it was as though no one could hear me, as though I was invisible, (as Moon explained about my dream in the other thread).

The last time I spoke to my father before he died was in anger. I had been feeling sick and since I couldn't go myself, I asked him to get me some medicine, going on and on about how much I hated him, SA, everything; shouting at him that I couldn't even go out for a walk, was stuck at home all the time. Even after he went out, locking the front door behind him, I was still shouting and crying hysterically, banging on the door. A few hours later I got a phone call from a hospital saying that he had been hit by a car and was in serious condition. He died a few days later without ever gaining consciousness. :) All I could think of was that it was my fault. He left with my awful words being shouted after him. What I said probably upset him so much he was oblivious to the car coming towards him as he crossed the road.

I never got a chance to ask for his forgiveness, to tell him I loved him and forgave him.:(

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Ohhhh, what a terrible series of circumstances Endless. Of course it is not your fault that you dad was hit by a car! It was just an unfortunate series of events and I would have done an awful lot of screaming too if I was locked into the house day after day. That is nothing to be ashamed of Endless... I would even say it is normal, since you did nothing wrong to be imprisonned in such a way. I often hear of situations where people wish they would have mended things with a loved one before they passed, it's always sad since there is no going back. I'm certain your Dad knew you loved him, even if you did not agree with his decision of keep you in SA...

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Hi Symora, hi Moon. I know that I didn't directly cause my father's death but the feeling of guit won't go away, and some of that probably has to do with there having been no closure to our relationship because of him dying without regaining consciousness.

Symora,

Tell me how you are enjoying life now that you no longer have 2 jobs and shorter work days? Are you managing to fill your time or do you now have too much time to think ??????

I haven't really settled into this new job yet, i'm not working in Ramadan so I won't have any more classes until after the month is over. Though i'm not quite so enthusiastic about teaching as I was at the start, I know it is best for me at this time in my life. As you said, it is like a kind of semi-retirement which, once I do get settled, hopefully will give me enough free time to consider doing other things once Ramadan is over. One of the things I am looking forward to is having time to join a health club if I can find transportation. That is the main problem here with wanting to do anything, finding someone you can trust enough to take you where you want to go, without him wanting an exorbitant amount of money to do it. I've asked about a few health clubs, two or three of the main hospitals have them for women, and they are all very expensive, so i'll have to wait and see how much going and coming will cost me also. :)

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Well, at least you're having this month to rest and recoup from the 2 job thing. A health club is a great idea, I really hope you find one that meets your needs. I'm not part of one now because I have other financial priorites for a couple of years, but I was part of one for about 5 years and it really is wonderful way to feel healthy, manage weight and it's also very good for depression. If you found one close to work that would the ideal situation, since there would be no extra costs for transportation. I'll pray for your success! :)

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I wish it were possible to just go out and walk, but it isn't possible here. For one thing I would have to be wearing my abaya and veil and you can imagine how overheated you can get under all that black because of how hot it is now. It would be so much cheaper (no need to pay someone to drive me) and easier to do though.

Thank you both for your support and encouragement. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

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