That is such a juicy word.
I picture a continuum, with the word 'betrayal' on one end--and on the far end 'forgiveness'.
My cousin Lori wrote the most beautiful post about duality, and oneness. Just now looking at it, in order to link back to it, I feel the intensity of the inspiration behind her writing.
Over the weekend I saw a picture of Helen Hunt and an article about her latest venture in writing, directing, and producing. I see that her latest work is inspired by a novel by Elinor Lipman (Then She Found Me--about a grown woman who's found by her birth mother and they 'forge a relationship'), and an essay by James Hillman. The essay is on the theme of betrayal.
So I went to find the essay and discovered that Hillman is an Archetypal Psychologist. That piqued my interest some more, since this is the work I am doing with Sharon.
I've spent the last 5 days trying to lift this very large concept without its crumbling to dust in my mind. It's like trying to lift a pancake with a fork or knife rather than a spatula.
Basically there are enormous themes that express as patterns of energy, and each of our own lives is a lens that splits this energy, like light, into various refractions and colors. They express in the lives of individuals, and in the lives of peoples and civilizations. They are a superstory. I see a glimpse of this in some of Doug's photography where elements repeat, in different variations.
And it is about consciousness, evolving and differentiating.
Oneness is perhaps the original, primal state--the Garden of Eden. But it is not the ultimate state. Perhaps the word 'oneness' in this case is better expressed by 'undifferentiated'. Perhaps the ultimate state is attained through the journey toward differentiation, which must first traverse the road of separation, duality. The Garden of Eden, though blissful, represents a state of the soul that is not sufficient unto itself...there is a state of Oneness that can only be attained through the experience and integration of the fullness of life's experience.
The experience of the brutality of life, through the agency of betrayal is the initiating event on the road to this higher differentiation, this evolved state of Oneness.
The search by the betrayed to wrest meaning from the betrayal event is the creative act which brings about reconciliation, and finally, forgiveness, the resurrection of that Soul.
These are cosmic forces, far larger than we are, and it's tempting to dismiss them as petty when they express in our lives. However, our stories can illustrate and bring understanding to these larger forces.
Perhaps the initiating event can be analogized to a seed penetrating an oyster's defensive shell--an irritant which eventually manifests as a pearl.
There's a decision upon initiation, and we are completely alone with it. We lie on a ledge that we have fallen to from a great height above--we're dazed, injured, and in grave danger that in not being cognizant of our situation we will fall further to greater injury or annihilation. Yawning before us are the pitfalls of vengeance, denial of what is good, cynicism, and worse, self-betrayal. The pain we suffer at betrayal causes us to split from ourSelves--we deny who we are because it hurts too much to be ourSelves. Or, we may become paranoid--demand iron-clad loyalty from others we may encounter--demand a relationship free of the risk of being hurt again. And be ever vigilant for signs of backsliding. The relationship becomes one about power, and not love.
We can dither in these pitfalls for a lifetime and never emerge. We may notice sometimes a certain pattern to our lives and dealings. We might swing between the poles of self-blame and blame of the Other. We may despair...
If I can humbly offer my life as an illustration:
The light that passed through my prism already had passed through the prism of a Cold War, and the decisions made by people who saw themselves custodians of an Atomic Age. Furthermore it passed through people who were very young and who had been subjected to the cold impersonality and brutality of their own life circumstances (Great Depression, poverty, war, influenza). I suppose my own initiation came in the form of a father who would spank an infant for doing what infants do to express need: crying. I suppose I could say that initiation was finalized when my mother turned from me when I was attempting to express the Truth and sided with the neighbor in believing I was lying.
It seems evident that I 'chose' the pitfall of self-betrayal. To allow myself to see the Truth, that the people who I depended upon for my very existence could be arbitrary and even cruel, was too painful. It was also too painful to be who I was in those moments, hurt and bitterly alone. To cope I chose to believe what had happened was a result of me being deeply flawed. I could not know that the truth was my pain was a result of a flaw in my parents--it was their bad.
For my entire life I carried the burden of the doubt. Perhaps the fault lay in me: perhaps I was looking at an event from the 'wrong' perspective. Perhaps mine was the mistaken, or even venal perspective. In this way I 'protected' others from the burden of wrongdoing, I protected them from having to account for themselves.
And I was surrounded by people who were unwilling to be called to account for themselves. If something hurtful was said that I wanted an explanation for, they were the ones who were 'hurt' by my request. I was the one who was too sensitive, or I had a sense of self-esteem that was so low that it would 'cause' me to misunderstand. Conditions were not favorable for asking people for explanations for their behavior.
This cost was especially paid in problematic relationships with men. Since I held my every action and motivation under a microscope of doubt, I was unable to read with any accuracy someone's intentions toward me. If I had any doubts as to their honorability I immediately assumed I was expecting too much, or was imagining things. I was very vulnerable and got hurt, and assumed I was at fault.
I think I was preoccupied, mistakenly, but understandably, with seeking an experience of "atonement", or at-one-ment. I've sought connection, re-connection, oneness, but perhaps by going backward, attempting to return to the Garden of Eden which is guarded by an angel with a flaming sword.
As Hillman says: "But forgiveness is so difficult that it probably needs some help from the other person. I mean by this that the wrong, if not remembered by both parties - and remembered as a wrong - falls all on the betrayed. The wider context within which the tragedy occurred would seem to call for parallel feelings from both parties. They are still both in a relationship, now as betrayer and betrayed. If only the betrayed senses a wrong, while the other passes it over with rationalizations, then the betrayal is still going on - even increased. This dodging of what has really happened is, of all the sores, the most galling to the betrayed. Forgiveness comes harder; resentments grow because the betrayer is not carrying his guilt and the act is not honestly conscious. Jung has said that the meaning of our sins is that we carry them, which means not that we unload them onto others to carry for us. To carry one’s sins, one has first to recognize them, and recognize their brutality." (bold text mine)
Healing for the betrayed, comes through his/her efforts to find meaning in the event and the ability to relate to the event in a wider context. Reconciliation may not be possible with the betrayer, but it is possible to find reconciliation with the event. Better would be for the betrayed and betrayer to consciously reciprocate the experience of atonement and forgiveness. The betrayer who is unable to carry his sin robs him/herself of this healing experience.
The betrayed also understands that there may be times in meeting the impersonal demands of life that we are agents of its cruelty. If we have consciously integrated our experience we are in a better position to enter this parallel relationship with those we love and injure: we can offer atonement, and, possibly receive the gift and miracle of forgiveness.