This posting concerns an experience of being at the limit of my ability to accept the situation and use transformational, spiritual energies to cope. Although this happened several months ago the experience is still not resolved.
I was betrayed by a person I considered a close and reliable friend for many years. The experience cut me deeply. It felt like a gut punch. Initially I was furious. I was angrier than I had been in ten years. Not surprisingly, right on the heels of the anger came deep hurt and loss. I could not understand how this person could do this to me. Ordinarily I am not a very reactive person. When experiences like this occur, the emotions come for a while and leave rather quickly. But this time they came, and they stayed. Including at least one sleepless night. Anger, hurt and disbelief swirled through my mind and heart. This swirling was not an effective processing to some deeper level of awareness but a reeling from the experience. I was very much like a small boat in the middle of an ocean storm.
I tried to activate my coping skills with soothing meditations and peaceful visualization but all that was in my consciousness was this experience. Following the breath was possible only for about five seconds and led to fury and frustration. So I had little choice other than to accept that this was what was real for me in this time. I could only sit in the midst of this experience. The swirl of anger, hurt and confusion was the only thing to which I could be present. Often, in the midst of difficult experiences I find a deeper issue which when seen releases the reaction or I find a way in which I enabled the experience and learn not to repeat the process. This time however, the only thing that came through was this damn experience. Every one of my spiritual skills flopped. All that was left was to be with this inner chaos. In my clinical practice, I often urge my clients to ‘sit with’ their experience without trying to change it. That was all that was left. I did not want to but there was little other choice. I wanted to dissolve it with some brilliant spiritual insight or strategy. But on these days I was at my limit. It was as though the reaction was impervious to light or energy.
I vowed to address it with the person. And I knew there would be little benefit. So, I vowed to not address it. Then I saw this as lacking courage. I returned to the vow to address this head on. I would speak my truth with no expectation of benefit other than this. I turned myself inside out several times. Sitting with it I increasingly saw this had little to do with the other person. I needed to address it internally and surrender to my own inner confusion. There was no way to soothe or bypass this experience.
Gradually some awareness began to emerge. First, this was not going away very quickly. Second, tomorrow my life would return to its usual processes. I’d be out early taking pictures. Third, this is who I am in this time. It isn’t particularly pleasant, but it is what is real. The next day I did go about my life and engaged in some creative work. But the experience was never far from my consciousness. As time passed over the course of several days the swirling ocean storm began to calm into an ocean of waves larger than I liked but not so large as to make me flee to the nearest harbor.
With this I am at the very edge of my ability to cope in the way that reflects what I expect of myself. I used every skill I have without much ‘success’ except as I sat with it. In that process I learned it was not going to destroy me. I saw that I could return to the rhythms of my life and its essential happiness. And I could also continue to feel the inner hurt and sadness. Obviously, since I am writing about it several months after the experience it has not completely gone away. It still comes in and then fades out. I don’t like this at all. But liking or not liking are really rather beside the point. This is simply who I am with this. In my life I am very comfortable with the unknown. I am obviously very uncomfortable with the UNRESOLVED.
I don’t understand it any better today than I did then. I just know there are other important things in my life.
Thank you for this post, Graham. I am in a similar situation with family members. Unfortunately,the betrayal was probably mutual. Attempts at talking, apology and amends on my part have been to no avail. It is been almost 8 years- very painful- I don’t think it will ever go away. I am learning to disconnect, and to accept that this will always be part of my life. And, yes- my life is still wonderful.
June 10, 2019
Interesting article, Graham. I experienced a shocking betrayal back in February, and, like you, used all my “tools” to deal with it – without much success. Still felt so angry, etc. I have chosen to accept that I will never understand, at least in my current body, why she did what she did. What has brought my much greater peace about it is the realization that I wanted to stay in polarity about this. I’m RIGHT and she is WRONG. Also, I looked at the ways I have betrayed myself, which was really helpful, and finally, all the positives that have resulted from this betrayal.
June 10, 2019
The concept of ‘Spiritual bypassing’ is just making it onto my radar. I read it describe the other day as the shadow side of our spiritual practices.
June 13, 2019