If you are reeling from the events of these past weeks, not because of their woeful indication of untreated mental illness at the helm of the U.S. political system and a passive, complicit political party allowing for chronically outrageous and destructive behavior, but because it has stirred your own personal experience of betrayal, I wish to express my empathy.
Most of us have had the painful experience of a needed and beloved person not showing up when we’ve most needed them, or showing up in ways that deny or minimize our suffering. It hurts and can cause a burning, raging fury for being so hurt, forgotten, and uncared for.
There’s nothing more personal than feeling forgotten or maltreated. And the specific, personal details of what happens matter. This is why we tend to replay our most painful experiences of betrayal over and over again. The mind is seeking clarity and some sense of understanding that might usher in desperately needed peace of mind.
So when larger collective betrayals get enacted, it sucks us into a stormy and confusing experience that we know is bigger than us, broader and more pervasive. That’s, in part, why our current maelstrom of political upheaval is so crazy-making. We wonder – why do I feel so bad? Sure, what’s happening is an outrage, will cause suffering to children and families for generations, but I have food and a home and other precious resources.
I want to make a pitch for holding with compassion the personal pain that gets stirred when systems meant to offer protection, fracture and fail. The compassion might just offer a needed psychic balm so that we can recover, get oriented, and respond with integrity. And most importantly, such compassion can offer a needed reminder that we have all been hurt, and we have all hurt another – unwittingly or not.
The challenge is to let our personal experience be a needed inroad to the collective. To find a way back in, even if the storm seems impossibly out of control. To know that we can care for ourselves and one another, even if it means expressing outrage when needed, apologizing when needed, owning our own acts of betrayal when needed, asking for compassion when needed. Showing up with engaged, reflective minds and hearts to the very best of our ability.
May healing – personal and collective – come our way swiftly, and for the benefit of all.