Of all the hurts accumulated throughout life, family betrayal is the worst. When your own relatives turn against you, it’s almost unbearable.
When I was a child, I was abused. When my parents found out, many years later, they turned a blind eye to my pain. Why? because of something stupid. What makes it worse is they are dead now, and I may never really understand how they could have done this. When your family turns their back on you, it’s like torment.
Why is family betrayal so hard to deal with?
There’s physical pain, which, in time, it heals. There’s the pain of mental illness and the pain of trauma, which is like neverending darkness. But when your own mother, father, or other family members betray you in your darkest hour, it’s a pain that’s hard to describe. But I will try, I will attempt to share a few reasons why this pain is the worst.
1. Close relationships
Families are supposed to be tight-knit and loyal to each other. Unlike the average Joe on the street, a sister is supposed to be there for you. Your brother is supposed to be trustworthy. Your mother and father are supposed to stand in the gap for you and fight.
When this doesn’t happen in your family for some reason, the betrayal is deep. If you cannot trust your family, you probably feel like you cannot trust many others either.
2. It’s so confusing
Let’s say your husband cheated, and you chose to forgive him, but then he did it again. He has proven that his infidelity is not a mistake, rather a choice.
This is confusing because you are supposed to be closer to each other than any other member of your household. Your partner has betrayed you, regardless of a commitment. Betrayal breaks this bond and leaves you wondering why you didn’t see it coming. It leaves you confused.
3. It’s demeaning
I once told a family member that it hurt more thinking I was stupid than what they did to me. Basically, when a cousin or brother, for instance, deceives or lies to you, they assume you will believe. They give you no credit for being able to see through the thin veneer of falsehood.
Family members know each other pretty well, and they know when they are being betrayed. It hurts immeasurably for a loved one to think you are stupid enough to allow this hurt.
How can you cope with family betrayal?
So, they tricked you. They fooled, lied, and left you to pick up the pieces of your tainted relationship. So, what can you do now? Well, there are a few ways you can cope with this in a healthy manner. The hurt doesn’t go away, but your life must go on.
Yes, I said it. You must forgive them. Now, this doesn’t mean you cannot remember and still try to work through your feelings about the incident. This is especially true if the one who betrayed you is no longer living.
You’ve probably heard the old saying about forgiveness being more for your own benefit than for theirs, and this is true. Not forgiving the ones who’ve caused you pain will cultivate bitterness in your life.
As for those who are still among the living, after forgiveness comes distance. Some of those people who betrayed you must be loved from afar. You cannot submerge yourself in a close relationship with someone you cannot trust. Care about them, yes, but try to limit time spent with them for your own well-being.
3. No revenge
Remember, forgiveness is number one, right. This means you cannot try and avenge yourself after what they’ve done to you. I know you want to, but it’s simply unhealthy.
By being vengeful, you are lowering yourself to their level. You cannot get revenge without feeling regret for your actions afterward, and I don’t care how tough you think you are. This is your family I’m talking about.
4. Analyze the betrayal
If you can stand to think of what happened to you, face your family member. They may deny or avoid the questions but do it anyway. In short, I can tell you this: You are not the problem, they are. Family members who betray are dealing with something inside themselves, not really a problem with you.
As for me, my parents didn’t report my abuse because they didn’t want to cause problems with the man who abused me or disturb his family. Now, knowing that made me even angrier, but at least I know they were cowards and dysfunctional people, even though I loved them.
5. Emotional control
When I was betrayed, I wasn’t as emotional as I have been in the last few months. I don’t think I ever come to terms with my parent’s looks of apathy. I couldn’t read their minds, but it sure seemed like my trauma was considered and then quickly pushed behind them.
For the past months, I’ve grieved over those things until finally taking back control over my emotions. Eventually, no matter how long it takes, you have to control yourself. You have to understand that it isn’t your fault that they failed you, whatever the case may be.
6. Cope according to status
You will have to cope with the hurt according to how close you are to the family member. While it may not be as hard to deal with a conniving cousin, it can be devastating to deal with a pathologically lying wife.
You can forgive all of them, but some may not be as easy to get away from as others. Deal accordingly, and this will help you understand how to draw boundaries from now on. Yes, you can draw boundaries with your spouse. In other words, learn who you can trust.
7. Talk to someone
It’s best that you don’t hold all this inside. I’ve tried to keep my pain a secret, but you see, I’ve told you all. I’ve also told a few of my close family and friends about the trauma and the betrayal. You see, family betrayal is not something you need to deal with on your own. Other people can help you hash out the details and understand what to do.
Finally letting go
That’s it. You have to finally learn to let go of what happened to you, even if you were hurt and then hurt again. It doesn’t matter how many times life sears you with pain, you have to release the unforgiveness right there in your chest and let the love come back.
Family betrayal, as you see, is traumatic in its own right, so always remember to take care of yourself during and after the conflicts. Healing may take a while, but it’s always worth it.
After all, I’ve harbored these feelings for decades. Don’t do this to yourself. I want better for you.
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