You Have Every Right to Outrage

“When it comes to abrupt endings related to love, the experience is very similar to being the victim of a blunt force trauma. The symptoms are the same, and your functioning drops to the level of someone who needs to be hospitalized and treated for injuries.”—Dr. Andra Brosh, The Huffington Post


Several years ago my long-time partner left me shortly before our wedding. Blindsided, I went reeling from the loss, but primarily from the deceptions and betrayal of trust involved. For a long time afterwards, I was hurt, angry and pretty dysfunctional. Later, I learned I was in shock and did not know it.

During those dark days of bewilderment, and post-traumatic stress, I felt more lost and alone than I had my entire life. Nothing made sense anymore. The unbelievable pain, betrayal outrage, and shame blew my world apart. After years of psychological and spiritual work, I thought I knew myself.  But now, I could not figure out why I could not get over it and pull myself together. What was going on?

A Culture Blind to Betrayal

It took a long time to realize that we live in a world that is blind to the traumatic impact of betrayal.  How many times did I hear from well-meaning friends and family: “Surely you saw it coming,” “You chose him, after all,” “Just get over it!”  “Move on!”

In time, I learned that such platitudes that blame you for your pain and brush off the emotional abuse you have endured barely hide a contempt for power­lessness in any form. In our culture, we not only reject emotional pain, but we revere power and con­trol, and disdain the powerless victims and losers.

These common attitudes also reveal also a wish to “exorcise the specter of the rejected individual.” (A. Carotenuto, To Love, to Betray, 1996, p.95). As mortal beings, specks in this vast mystery of time and space, we seem wired to avoid acknowledging our essential powerlessness.   We tend to turn away or “blame the victim” when we see powerlessness so blatantly revealed in abandonment and betrayal.

This atmosphere of denial encourages us to downplay and to hide what has happened to us.  The fact is that it is natural to be stunned and outraged in response to betrayal. You have every right to respond with anger and disbelief. When someone you have deeply trusted turns overnight on you, going from devoted partner to contemptuous or indifferent stranger, it violates you to the core.

Regardless of the intentions, childhood wounds, needs, defenses, or other excuses of the betrayer—you have been psychically assaulted. Such an abrupt turnabout shatters your native trust and renders you powerless, with emotional injuries  that will impact the quality of your life going forward.  As you would after being hit by a bus, you will need time and likely professional help to regain your ground, your trust, in yourself and life. (See my post “Rejection in Love,” or M. Laskley’s “This Is Your Brain on Heartache”).

In time, as you can work through this shock to your body, heart and soul, the pain may lead you into a deeper, more compassionate spiritual life. But first, you must recognize your injuries!  They may be invisible, but they are just as debilitating, if not more so, than a physical blunt force trauma.  Be kind to yourself, talk primarily to others who have lived through it. They will understand.

Learn more: “Love and the Mystery of Betrayal” —now available in print and ebook.


3 thoughts on “You Have Every Right to Outrage

  1. Hi Sandra,
    After 4 years of emotional torment and a very bad betrayal my entire life right down to the deepest parts have been shattered. I’m still in shock I think and the hardest part of all is that the partner I had who abused and abandoned me was not the worst part. It was the abuse and abandonment of my mother, my dearest spiritual sister. I find it hard to process anything and have lots of counselling etc. Its the overwhelming confusion and numbing of the pain of the betrayal of both of them, that makes it so I cannot even have a moment to do the deep work.. Just wanted to share this. I’ve been reading bits of your book, “Love and the Mystery..” amazing, it speaks so deeply to my pain… like nothing has for so long. Problem is I feel numb, my soul and character was once so vibrant in a quiet way, and i felt God and Spirit now i feel nothing…

    • Thank you, Carla, for taking the time to let me know L&MB has reached you…that is why I wrote it, one can feel so lost and alone in this crisis. But you are not alone. Please stay the course with the emptiness and pain; watch, listen, even pray. Stay with your help too, much needed to hold the grief. I feel confident that your work will silently help many others. I salute your courage…

  2. I just used the terms “outrage” & “indignant” today in an email to my cousin. Somehow, I missed your website, in spite of the many times I searched for somebody to put into words the experience I kept having. I am in much pain today as reality sinks in. But I am grateful to read that you [& others] understand. For the first time in a long time I am not alone.

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