You’ve Been Betrayed; Now What?
It took you a couple of days, but you’ve finally reached that point.
That point where you’ve raised your hand into a salute right about eye brow height and declared, “I have had it up to here. Things are about to change.”
Good. I’ve been waiting.
Let’s admit it: we’ve been betrayed. And we know it.
You and I both know what she did to us. What she let happen to us.
You and I both know that we’d like to break things or hit walls or set fire to her clothes and her expensive car in the driveway of her beautiful house (a la Bernadette from “Waiting to Exhale”).
But I’m not down for us to share a prison cell.
I’m also not about to let you take on this pain alone.
So this is where we’re at right now.
Let me be the sage one that’s kinda been here a time or two before; let me give you some advice.
Do not apologize for her betrayal; it’s not your fault. It’s not up to you to seek forgiveness. You had nothing to do with it. You can not try to speak on her behalf. You can not let her off the hook. She needs to own this.
Do not think that you could have done anything to prevent her betrayal; you do not control anyone else’s actions apart from your own. She made the decision that she made for whatever reason she made it. You could not have been a better friend/wife/sister/mother/daughter, more encouraging, or more entreating. Your actions do not have any bearing on her’s. She alone is responsible for her decision.
Do not gloss over her betrayal; you must honor yourself and acknowledge the truth. You are not allowed to let yourself think “the word betrayal seems like a bit much” or “it’s not really that bad” or “I’m sure she didn’t mean it like that.” It’s not too much. It really is that bad. And yes, oh yes she did.
Do not call her betrayal a mistake; it was a choice she made to betray you. You can not say things like “well, maybe she didn’t know better” or “maybe she wasn’t raised the way I was” or “maybe she just needed more time.” You can not excuse her behavior as a product of bad upbringing. You can not make her betrayal akin to having bad manners. She didn’t burp at the dinner table; she betrayed you.
Do not try to understand why she betrayed you; you are not entitled to her why. You can not force her to explain herself. She owes you nothing in the way of an explanation. It shouldn’t matter anyway. An explanation will not change what she has done. And it certainly won’t make you feel better.
Do not utter the phrase “if we could just go back in time”; you already know that you can’t. Stop allowing yourself access to the word “if”. There is not one single what if? that could make what she has done any more stomachable. Stop torturing yourself with scenarios that conclude in different outcomes. You already know the outcome. You already know the conclusion.
Do not think “someday she’s going to regret this”; she most likely never will. You can not think for one second that she has your self-awareness and compassion and humanity. Clearly, she does not. You can not allow yourself to hope that she will develop an iota of guilt over what she’s done, what she’s allowed to happen. She will not. She would not be able to live with herself if she did.
Do not think that she’s ever going to give you an apology; you need to learn to move on without one. An apology is reserved for hurting your daughter’s feelings or missing your best friend’s baby shower or bumping your grandma’s shoulder as you savagely reach across her for the last piece of cake. This is not a bruised shoulder; this is a betrayal. In order for her to ever muster up an apology, she would have to begin to feel regret. We’ve already established that she won’t.
Do not think that her betrayal has anything to do with your worth and value; your worth and value have not changed. Period.
Do not let her betrayal consume you; you will get passed this. You are allowed to cry. You are allowed to eat your feelings. You are allowed to drag your body to exhaustion on the treadmill. You are not allowed to stop and stay in this pain and hold on to it for fear that if you let go of it then no one will see that it was important in the first place. You are not allowed to be the keeper of the flame of the pain. You must let it go. You just have to.
Please please please know that I’m right here with you. I’m not going anywhere. I’m disgusted and humiliated and devastated just like you.
I know you still have so much you want to say to her. So do it. Text her. Leave a voicemail. Write it down. Send it to her if you must. Do what you have to do.
I’d like to pass this message to her myself:
I’ve always known (and told my daughter) that if women would stick together, we’d rule the world. If we’d just get out of our own way (and cattiness), we could make everything right.
I was wrong.
I expected your vote to stand for all the women that can’t vote or don’t have a voice or have long since died because of the abuses of this world.
I expected you to vote against bigotry and racism and misogyny and heterosexism.
And again, I was wrong.
I’ve always wondered if I was born during the time of slavery, if I’d have accepted it as the norm.
I’ve always wondered if I was born during the time when women lacked the right to vote, if I’d march for it or just accept it.
I don’t have to wonder anymore. I would have fought. I would have made myself heard. I would have done my best to rage against the norm.
I will not live another day wondering what I would have fought for in the past; I will live them knowing that it’s up to me to keep fighting and standing up for what is right.
I will be the best kind of white woman (lest anyone mistake me for you) on the right side of history.
I promise you, I will.
And I’m not expecting the same from you. Anymore.