The unkindest cut. Â The one we never expect because only those we trust can betray us. Â Â It happens to all of us.
I hadn’t thought about her for years until I ran across an annoucement about an award she had recently received. Â I was surprised at how quickly the old painful memories replayed themselves in my mind. Â The initial shock and disbelief, Â stabs of disappointment, Â rushes of anger, and eventually, more in my interest than hers, forgiveness and acceptance.
She was my student, my star student at the time. Â The one for whom I had such high hopes. Â The one I rescued from the slums and nurtured. Supported, financially and emotionally. Â Provided a network. Â Advocated for. Â Â Defended.
It was wonderful to watch her grow and flourish. Â She was like a kid in a candy store. Â Everything was magic for her; the university, her classes and research, the malls, the internet, Â even theÂ night-time sky. Â She glowed with happiness. Â We were a team.
Until she found a brighter star and Â moved on to follow it, leaving behind a trail of lies and broken promises.
Painful as it was, and uncomfortable as the memories still are, I am grateful for the experience. Â It taught me Â that my expectations for her were a heavy and unjust burden. Â No one has the right to require Â loyalty from another person. Â In spite of and maybe because of, Â my good intentions, I caused her harm. Â And probably more importantly, Â it brought me face to face with my own past betrayals and the lies I told myself to justify my cowardly behavior.
She must have carried a heavy burden of guilt. Â It’s the only logical explanation I can think of to explain the Â smear campaign she launched Â among the faculty and students. Â I never knew theÂ specifics or the extent of it, but the averted glances and hushed whispers told me all I needed to know.
Make no mistake; the release that comes with Â betrayal exacts a heavy price. Â A plausible justification for Â cowardly behavior must be fabricated and a web of lies concocted. Â The Â guilt of my betrayals will always follow me, Â nipping at my heels, Â threatening to expose my lies, Â until I finally face them and the people I harmed.
Each of us has the right and the responsibility to be true to our own convictions, even though acting on them may take all the courage we can muster. Â And if this means severing ties with another human being, Â we harm ourselves most of all if we hack them apart in the Â dark corridors of betrayal.
It’s been said that in order to know love, we must first know pain. Â It follows that in order to trust, we must travel through Â betrayal, be crushed by it, Â burn in its crucible, and be released.
There will be another friend, lover, child, to love in the light of day, free from the dark spectre of betrayal.