When someone breaks our trust we sometimes feel a sense of lack for having trusted, for having allowed ourselves to be cheated. It’s an element that is often overlooked, though it may have a deep effect.
After the sailing disaster of 2015, I discovered I have to forgive myself for my imperfections as part of releasing the emotional charge that binds me to an untrustworthy person. Part of the solution came from examining the beliefs I held at the time of the betrayal.
In the case of what happened that fall, I realized that I had put too much weight on my intent to keep my commitment. I had held fast to the belief that I should not let down the other person, even after he had put me in danger.
I realized after the events that there had been several points when I could have walked away from helping someone who lacked sufficient concern for not just my comfort, but also my safety. In hindsight, I recognized the importance of that first “sinking heart” feeling, which, at the time, seemed irrational. Indeed, there was no rational reason to feel that; it was my intuition speaking. But it was a beautiful day and I had committed to help, so I ignored it.
I kept ignoring the gnawing sense that things were not as they had been described, that the other person had misled me, and actually expected a lot more from me than openly requested.
I finally bailed, with some guilt, after I woke up at 3 a.m. with a screaming voice in my head that told me I had to get out of there “NOW!” It was screaming because I had not listened to the numerous whispers.
For a long time after that, I felt a mess of negative feelings, including anger and disgust, whenever I saw the other person or was even reminded of him, by, say, seeing a car that looked like his. I realized that I was somehow keeping myself emotionally tied to him. It was not affecting the violator at all, only me. It was like I was giving him free living space in my own home.
I considered what might be causing this. The other person was certainly guilty of bait-and-switch, disrespect, and disregard for my safety, as well as lack of remorse or any attempt at an apology. But what bound me emotionally was that I had continued to kick myself for what amounted to ignoring my intuition/instincts/inner voice. It was hard to recognize the extent of the damage I had done to myself (including significant financial loss) by sticking to my commitment even after the other person had shown me in numerous ways, small, medium, and large, that he had only his own self-interest at heart.
I determined that my resolution would require two steps: to confront him with the truth and forgive myself. The next time I encountered him, I looked him in the eye and told him his behavior was reprehensible and unforgivable, and it was best that he stay away from me.
The more difficult step was the second, where I forgave myself. As part of that, I had to learn from my mistakes. I needed to learn that a commitment is not signed in blood, especially when the other party expects blood from me and gives none of their own. I had to recognize again that my instincts have never been wrong, and I need to listen even more carefully to their wisdom. I needed to understand that true integrity is not keeping one’s word no matter what, but honoring one’s instincts, no matter what.
Only after that work did the emotional charge dissipate. And now I can see that person as not only a pitiful mess but as one who inadvertently taught me some lessons that will serve me well for the rest of my life.