“You have seen my descent. Now watch my rising.” ~Rumi
I like to think I have finely-tuned intuition. My close friends and family (especially my husband) would probably agree. I don’t have special powers, I just learned a long time ago that this deep knowing was not to be ignored………….EVER. Well, in the spring of 2015, I was presented with some “red flags” in a relationship where I had placed a tremendous amount of trust. Think of the trust you place in someone who is caring for you in labour and birth……..it was that level of trust. Regrettably, I chose to ignore the flags frantically waving all around me. Often, this is a result of believing that bad things don’t happen to good people, that if we just follow the rules and do everything right, the turnout will be positive and that if we trust people and give them the benefit of the doubt, they won’t do unspeakable things to us.
The circumstances of this relationship had gradually changed and morphed into something that created an underlying anxiety in me. I felt as though I had little control over what was happening. So, in an attempt at pacifying the one who ultimately betrayed me, I carefully walked on proverbial egg shells until sixteen months later when it finally came to an end. The ending came after months of mental abuse and the loss of thousands of dollars in legal fees in an attempt to get back what was rightfully mine. The unfortunate truth is that when you’re dealing with someone who possesses disordered thinking and personality traits, you recognize very quickly that using rationale, facts and intellect is as useless as using battery acid to bathe yourself.
Betrayal happens when trust is severed with someone you previously trusted wholeheartedly. It is damaging because you have entrusted them with something meaningful like your heart, your secrets, your vulnerability and perhaps, something more concrete that you presume will be cared for on your behalf. If you have never been betrayed, it feels like a violation of your spirit and your core and depending on the depth of the betrayal, it can be traumatic. Emotionally, you can be experiencing rage and grief almost simultaneously~ rage because someone could be so inexplicably cruel and grief because betrayal is a devastating loss. The really frustrating aspect of betrayal is that it is completely preventable. The betrayer makes a conscious choice to be cruel. They deliberately make decisions which ultimately lead to the betrayal. If you’re on the receiving end of these choices, it can be emotionally shattering. At its worst, betrayal can cause serious, irreversible psychological damage. People can have mental breakdowns because of the realization that what they perceived as reality is just not the case.
When a betrayal occurs, the aftermath hits like a tsunami and you find yourself feeling tossed around as you try to find solid footing again. You are plagued with questions like: “How could this happen?” and “Is this really happening?” and “Why is this happening to me?” In the darkest moments, you might even question your own sanity. The length of time it takes to recover from a betrayal depends on the circumstances. I recently caught someone I trusted in a lie. After offering opportunity for the truth to be told, this person, continued to blatantly lie to my face. This recovery period from this betrayal was short lived. After what I have been through this past year, my instinct about these things is sharper than it’s ever been. Thankfully, I stopped that train in its tracks before the betrayal could have any lasting effects.
For the big, earth shattering betrayals, you will need to practice serious self-care. Surrounding yourself with people who love you and can help you sift through the aftermath is paramount. The expression of the deep, primal emotions that are a part of this loss is extremely important in eventually moving past it. Writing a letter to the betrayer and sending it (or not) can be cathartic in giving your pain a voice. Depending on the nature of the betrayal, therapy might be needed to really get you back on track in deciphering what was real and what was not.
I found the use of rituals to be particularly therapeutic in recovering from this betrayal. As much as I wanted to rush it, I knew that I needed to work through a substantial amount of the emotions connected to this loss before the rituals could work their magic. Contrary to what others might think or want, a person can’t just “get on with it” after a betrayal. It takes time and energy to land on dry, solid ground again. I had to do a lot of talking aloud to process things and was surrounded by the patience, kindness and love of my husband and some carefully selected friends to do so.
The first ritual took place on September 30th. It seemed like the perfect evening to begin these rituals of letting go since there was a black moon rising that night in the fall sky. The black moon occurs when there are two new moons within the same month. It holds powerful energy to let go of that which is no longer needed and to set intentions for that which you hope to manifest. This ceremony set time aside for the release of stagnant energy of the past and acted as a stepping stone to ultimately freeing myself completely of the last two years and all that had been lost. For my release ritual, I burned a poem written for me by my betrayer many years ago. This ritual was laced in sadness as it was not the outcome I could have ever imagined or wanted.
While I purged emotionally, I was also purging “stuff” collected over my lifetime. My husband and I spent the summer upgrading our electrical in the second story of our 135 year old home. This included some renovations and a fresh coat of paint on every surface of our upstairs. I decided that with the upheaval of the last two years, it was time I rid myself of anyone and anything that no longer served me in a positive way. So began the Great Purge of 2016. My office was stripped down to a bare room before everything that needed to be sorted was piled back into it. I spent weeks and many hours sitting amongst boxes of ‘stuff’ and thousands of letters received over my lifetime. When I came across anything that was connected to my betrayer, I set it aside.
For me, an Aries, fire was a natural “go-to” in my rituals but you can also use other elements like water (dissolving paper in water or tossing stones that you have attached meaning to into a river, lake or the ocean), earth (burying something or planting a seed for renewal) or air (blowing out a candle). Actions like tearing or shredding paper items, breaking and smashing more concrete items or physically crossing a threshold like walking through a doorway or stepping over a rope are all rituals that can help you to achieve the intention of releasing and letting go of a person, situation or circumstance. What is most important is that your ritual is meaningful to you. The purpose of rituals of release is to pluck you out of ordinary time and give you space to use physical actions to bring some sort of healing to your heart.
In October, I took this collection of items that I connected to my betrayer and sat before a roaring fire. By this time, I had little emotion left about this experience and felt as though this final burning ritual would be the closure I needed to move forward. Burning these last items which once held such meaning, was euphoric. I knew that I had recovered because I no longer felt the rage and sadness that plagued me for many months. Instead, as I watched the flames engulf these last items, I felt a shift within myself and I knew that I was finally free. And I knew, without a doubt, that I would rise up from the ashes, as I always have.