QUESTION OF THE DAY: How do you let go of the pain of betrayal?

A friend of this page asked me this question yesterday, and I wanted to open it up for everyone to try to answer — given that you have all, I know, been through suffering in life and have learned things.

Specifically, she wanted to know how to let go of the pain of having been lied to and cheated on (yet again!) by someone she had been very good to.

I'm curious to know what thoughts you all have about this?

My thought today might surprise you — which is maybe not to try so hard to let it go. Don't force it. Recovery is a long and slow process, and sometimes you have to let that process play out.

I say this because lately I've been realizing that what often causes me suffering is not so much the actual sorrow or anger itself, but what I do to myself AROUND the sorrow and the anger. I'm so deeply uncomfortable with feelings of sadness, regret, resentment, anger and self-pity that I fight them (and fight myself) with all my might, which turns my mind into a chaotic battlefield between my feeling self and my judging self.

Sample battle goes like this:

Feeling Liz: "I'm still so furious at how I was hurt by that person."

Judging Liz: "You need to LET IT GO! It's over! Stop renting out headspace to him/her! You need to FORGIVE!"

Feeling Liz: "But I'm really hurting —"

Judging Liz: "STOP IT! DON'T YOU KNOW THAT HOLDING ON TO THINGS IS HORRIBLE FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF YOUR SOUL? LET IT GO!"

Feeling Liz: "I wish I'd handled the situation differently when I had the chance —"

Judging Liz: "TOO BAD, BITCH! IT'S OVER! STOP LIVING IN THE PAST! YOU HAVE TO LIVE IN THIS MOMENT!"

Feeling Liz: "…and I never want this to happen again, and now I'm afraid that it will keep happening —'

Judging Liz: "OH, LIVING IN THE FUTURE NOW, ARE WE? WAY TO GO! WAY TO MORTGAGE OUT YOUR ENTIRE LIFE TO FEAR AND SUFFERING! WHY CAN'T YOU JUST LET THINGS GO AND ENJOY THIS MOMENT, YOU IDIOT!!

Feeling Liz: "But my heart is in pain —"

Judging Liz: "SHUT UP, DUMB-ASS! YOU SUCK AT BEING SPIRITUAL!"

Yeah, kind of like that. And thus my mind becomes an Ultimate Cage-Fighting Arena.

But what I've been trying to do lately — whenever I experience feelings of sadness, anger, resentment — is to just say to myself this word: "Freedom." I will say to myself, "Freedom to feel anger," and just let it be anger. I will say, "Freedom to feel sorrow," and just let the sorrow be. "I will say, "Freedom to regret," and let the regret run its course. And ultimately, I will say, "FREEDOM TO PROCESS," and just accept that all these difficult feelings are part of the natural human process for handling complicated emotional encounters.

When I allow myself that freedom to just feel whatever I am feeling, the walls of the cage seem to fall away. I still experience the anger, the sadness, the regret — but if I keep repeating, "Freedom to feel…Freedom to process…" it all seems to pass more quickly, and Judging Liz doesn't escalate the whole situation into something worse, which is World War III inside my brain.

In other words, I am learning to let things go by just letting myself be a normal human being — not by beating myself over the head anymore with the message that YOU HAVE TO LET IT GO, DAMNIT!!!!! And somehow, curiously, that lets it go…

Does this make sense?

Also, getting professional help of any kind in a situation like this is really, really important. Find someone neutral to the situation who can help you through all the processing…

Oh yeah — and don't blame yourself because somebody cheated on you. That should be the other person's shame, not yours.

Also: Faith.

There is much more to be said on all this, but I'll turn it over to you guys now.

Can you help a friend of this page who is struggling?

Love
LG

via Elizabeth Gilbert’s Facebook Wall

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