betrayal (n.) “hurting (someone who trusts you, such as a friend or relative) by doing something morally wrong.”
It is sad that in almost any kind of relationship, betrayal is a part of the picture; and the saddest part of it is that in never comes from your enemies, but from the people you hold most dear (ignore the latter thought, I just realized how rubbish it is). When faced with betrayal, whether from a friend, a family member, or your significant other, how should you react? How should you cope? How does one survive betrayal and conquer its power?
After the Betrayal
Listen. There is always a reason for one’s actions, and never not listen to them. No matter how grave the betrayal they did, it is always best to listen to their reason. Give them a chance to explain themselves why and how it happened. For all you know, they betrayed you under duress. It might not be easy to listen to them seeing how they just broke your trust, but believe me, it is for the best of you both. It might be easier to shun them, assault them physically, call them names, etc.; but listening to them will give you the chance to assess the situation better and come to a better decision.
Contemplate. After hearing their side, give time for yourself to think about that they did, what they said, why they did it, how they did it, what you might have done that triggered the betrayal. Try to assess the entire situation; look at it as a big picture, not focusing on the betrayal alone. It is easier said than done, but it is for the best, both for you and the person who betrayed you.
Decide. Betrayal can cause a huge rift in a relationship between friends, families, or lovers. After you have listened to what they had to say and given the matter much thought, you have the decision to either salvage the relationship or end it entirely. No matter what you choose, it is best to make the decision once you have cleared your mind. Yes, it is difficult to simply say save the relationship when you have been betrayed, but ask yourself, is it worth ending the relationship as well?
Saving the Relationship
If you chose to save the relationship, especially after years of cherishing and protecting it, remember to:
Forgive and forget. To forgive means to forget. The former might be easier than the latter, but it both will soon come. Some people choose to simply forgive but not forget, but what is the point in that? Remember the betrayal will only cause you pain from time to time, and even induce mental images of things that could and might have happened—things that you are too scared to ask. Not forgetting the incident will only cause you stress, anxiety, pain, and sleepless nights. Sure, it is not that easy to forget, but you need to if you really want to move on and have forgiven the ones who betrayed you. Also, not forgetting it will cause sparks of anger once again—anger, doubt, vengeful thoughts, etc.—that can hinder the process of forgiveness to fully take place.
Rebuild trust. Again, this might be easier said than done, but love cannot grow where there is no trust. It might be very difficult at first; there will episodes of doubts and reasonable suspicions to their actions and words, but give it time. You chose to save and remain in the relationship; you have to trust them that they will not do it again.
Kill the monsters. Remove anything and everything in your mind that can harm the relationship. Remove doubt, remove insecurity. You chose to keep what has been started, so start anew by killing everything and anything that can pose as hindrance to the renewal of your friendship, love, trust, etc.
Let it go. Give the issue a closure and never—as much as possible—bring it back to the table. You chose to move on, so forget it; leave it in the past. Never hold it against them since you have chosen to forgive them, and forgiving means forgetting. Besides, love does not keep account of injury; if you love your friend, family, lover so much, this will serve as a storm that will strengthen you, not destroy you.
Ending the Relationship
If, however, you decide to entirely end the relationship you have had with the person who betrayed you, then, remember to:
Kill your darlings. Especially when you have shared a great relationship with the one who betrayed you, you need to get out of your comfort zones and kill all those that you both love. This will make the hurt a little bit lesser, and help you move on from the relationship. Do not listen to music or read things that can only ignite the feeling of pain, vengeance, rage, etc. Get away from the things that remind you of the relationship.
Be the better man. Do not linger in rage and revenge. There is no point to being vengeful as it will not change the situation nor make it better. Yes, it may seem reasonable for you at the moment that you are hurt, but is it really worth it? What would you do, destroy their reputation, hurt them as well? That will not make you any different than they are. Also, it is okay to be hurt and mad, but it is not okay to be enraged. You might have some violent thoughts and you might carry it out, and it will only put you in a dire situation.
“Everyone suffers at least one bad betrayal in their lifetime. It’s what unites us. The trick is not to let it destroy your trust in others when that happens. Don’t let them take that from you.”
―Sherrilyn Kenyon, Invincible