Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Take a Peek Inside Love and the Mystery of Betrayal by Sandra Lee Dennis #books #bookexcerpt @sandraleedennis


Title: LOVE AND THE MYSTERY OF BETRAYAL
Author: Sandra Lee Dennis
Publisher: West County Press
Pages: 290
Genre: Relationships/Spiritual/Self-Help

BOOK BLURB:
Betrayal of love inflicts a unique, unprecedented pain you can only comprehend once you have experienced it. If you are suffering from an intimate betrayal, you know. Betrayal is stunning. It is mind-boggling. You feel paralyzed, mystified, enraged, panicked, bewildered; but, mostly, you hurt. Betrayal is a make-or-break event that marks a cataclysmic divide in your life. It changes you. When you believe in someone so completely and then realize they have been deceiving you about their love and loyalty, the worst thing happens: Your faith in yourself crumbles. The shock lifts a veil from your eyes, and you can never see yourself or the world in the same way again.

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Book Excerpt:

In the messiness and ignorance of our humanity we struggle to cope with the demands of being human. We all make mistakes, especially in our closest relationships. Everyone can recall times of disappointment with friends, companions, family members, advisors, teachers, or coworkers when we have felt betrayed or betrayed others or ourselves. We gain self-knowledge and learn to apologize and to forgive as we work through the many ways we let each other down. There are minor, everyday betrayals, and then there are the life-exploding disclosures that I explore in this book, the ones that break your heart, fracture your world, and threaten to destroy your soul. I specifically address betrayal in love—a shattering of trust by the one you have been most
intimate with and relied on to protect you from harm.

If you are suffering from an intimate betrayal, you know. Betrayal is stun-ning. It is mind-boggling. It traumatizes you and upends your life. Mostly, it hurts. Betrayal inflicts a unique, unprecedented pain you can only compre-hend once you have experienced it. Interpersonal trauma changes you. It lifts a veil from your eyes, and you can never see the world in the same way again. Yet we live in a culture that is blind to both the depth of wounding and the heart-expanding potential of such a blow.

Before your trust was shattered, you lived shielded from the indescribable pain you feel now that the veil has lifted. Such havoc betrayal wreaks, the multilayered torments of body, mind, and soul are so extreme that it can feel like nothing less than torture. No wonder we tend to turn away, minimize, and bury the hurt. If you are like me, you also do not want anyone to know what is happening to you. It is humiliating and maddening to be in pain, obsessing about someone that has left, deceived, or cheated on you. You can begin to feel like a character in One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Friends and family tend to look the other way, too. No one likes to see a person so out of control of their destiny.




I know because I had the veil lifted from my eyes, in a familiar way known to many. The man I loved left me. With virtually no warning, my partner of six years walked out a few weeks before a big wedding we had planned. When he went from “I’ll love you forever” one day to “I’m finished with you” the next, it stopped my world. His wholly unanticipated exit from our home and my life led me to suffer more than I believed was humanly possible. At the same time, the distress awakened depths of my heart that took my capacity to love into uncharted territory.

Meanwhile, friends and family advised me to get over it and move on as quickly as possible. They were right, I reasoned, I would move on…I tried, but it was not to be. Once the initial shock lessened, I began to grasp that my trust in life had disappeared. My entire world had suddenly turned hostile, or so it seemed, because of the faithlessness of one person—albeit one very central person, the one I had counted most in the world to be there and care for me. His abrupt about-face marked a cataclysmic divide in my life.

Prior to the moment he walked out, I had considered myself a together, self-aware person. After he left, I was more like a delusional broken heap. I put on a self-assured face, but wandered around like a Swiss cheese, shot full of holes, bewildered, with a secret, stabbing pain in my heart. I vacil-lated between rage, panic, and bouts of grief. Often I could not stop crying. Falling apart was to be expected—“everybody has been there”—after a tough breakup. But the problem was, as time went on, my condition got worse, not better. Instead of a few weeks or months, it went on for years.

I could not comprehend why I had gone from competent professional to terrified, whimpering child, unable to do much of anything, let alone “move on.” It was only later that I realized this was no ordinary breakup. Eventually, I realized how deeply I had been traumatized, and that the nightmare of post-traumatic stress had set in.

Mine is not an obvious or sensational horror story of betrayal and abuse. I was not hit, or cheated on, raped or stolen from, yelled at, or bullied into submission, not even abandoned dramatically at the altar. I wrote this book to help show how relational trauma these days is often not obvious. Many of us have become too educated, smooth, or sophisticated for such overt aggres-sion. The damage to my trust and the erosion of the quality of my life came from mind-bending subtleties, primarily half-truths concealed as exceptional honesty: from bouts of seduction and warmth laced with withholding and withdrawal; insincere profusions of praise, affection and loyalty, interspersed with blame and criticism; important omissions of personal history; sexual manipulation masked as the deepest love; systematic devaluation; and finally a complete Jekyll-and-Hyde character reversal. Abandonment and replace-ment were only the final and most obvious blows to my sanity and stability.

Emotional abuse and mental cruelty can be more damaging than blatant physical abuse because, at least when someone beats you, or cheats on you, it is clearly their problem. When you have a dagger plunged into your heart while being held in a loving embrace, on the other hand, you do not know what hit you. When you are betrayed with charm and a smile, it is stunning and crazy making. If you have given the benefit of the doubt to and believed in your partner, it can take a long time to get the hook out and make sense of your world again. Meanwhile, you wonder if you are fit any longer for human company, or if you should have yourself committed for observation.

As I tried to make sense of what happened, my mind flooded with ques-tions. Perhaps the most painful was, “How could I not have seen this com-ing?” When you believe in someone so completely and then realize they have been deceiving you about their love and loyalty, the worst thing happens: Your faith in yourself crumbles. The instincts you relied on to perceive and under-stand your world have misled you, and you do not know how you will ever be able to trust yourself again. It alarmed me when I realized I had lost faith, not only in myself, but also in other people—and, most disturbingly, in life itself.

My heart goes out to you if you are in a similar situation. Perhaps what I share will help you sort through the bewilderment and confusion, regain trust in your own perceptions, and get through the worst. I had lived a lot of life and had a lot of psychological experience and inner resources when this ax fell. If anyone “should” have seen this coming and been prepared when it did, it was I. But I was not at all prepared.

To make it through this ordeal, I turned instinctively to my spiritual prac-tices: mindfulness meditation, inquiry, yoga. I coped by sitting for hours each day, breathing and watching the chaos, tracking sensations, thoughts, and feelings. I was astonished at how much I learned—more, I thought, in two years than I had in the ten previous. As a former college psychology professor, and a teacher at heart, passing on what I learn comes almost as second nature.

I did a lot of research in the effort to understand what I was going through. I read hundreds of books and talked to scores of people. I researched a wide range of subjects and touch on many here—trauma, posttraumatic stress, domestic violence, subtle-body experiences, attachment theory, projection and splitting, death and dying, faith and conscience, grief and forgiveness, Buddhist meditation and Christian contemplation and prayer. I found that prescriptions and advice abound on how to survive the loss of love, to heal from a broken heart, to endure a dark night of the soul, to put your life back




together, and to move on after being betrayed or abandoned. But for a long time, I found little that validated my extreme experiences.

Those around me, and even I, considered being abandoned by the person I intended to spend the rest of my life with an unfortunate, but minor event to be swept aside and forgotten, the sooner, the better. After all, people readily recover from far worse things. Conventional wisdom, I discovered, was way off with its clich├ęd treatment of heartbreak and betrayal as minor blips on the screen of life that you tend to for a while before moving on to better things.

The shame I felt about the depth and duration of the pain, along with the fact my friends, family, and even counselors did not understand, encour-aged my silence. The lingering effects on those of us who receive such a shock become a secret we do not want to share with anyone. We even want to hide the life-changing repercussions from ourselves. Amidst my struggle to recover, I recognized that many who had undergone similar experiences had simply shut down. For a time, I feared I would do the same. The continuing torment of having my heart torn out by someone I believed loved me deeply and to whom I had committed my love and life was just too much to bear.

When you hurt this much, instinctively you want to help make it less difficult for anyone else in pain. I never set out to write this book, but once it started pouring out of me, I felt how much I wanted to bring more light to the facts of what an experience like this actually does to a person. There was so much to learn about this underrated trauma—the “most difficult of all woundings,” as one author put it. I decided to base this book first on immer-sion into the lived experience, a type of phenomenological research. I believe this approach led to the emergence of a more nuanced perspective and a deeper understanding than a study based on analysis and theory alone could offer.

The orientation that guided me was to turn with curiosity toward the suf-fering, rather than stifling the pain or distracting myself. This approach will be familiar to many spiritual seekers and to those who have struggled to come to terms with great loss—the way out is through the darkness. What it takes to make this turn, to go from theory to practice in the midst of prolonged psychological pain, tells an unforeseen story for each of us.

Taken to heart this way, I found betrayal to be an initiation into an unknown self. The shock launches the betrayed on a “night sea journey,” that stage in spiritual growth known in mystical traditions as a dark night of the soul. In this mythological descent you are taken suddenly into deep waters and swallowed up by a sea dragon. Like Jonah, you are stripped bare and robbed of what is dearest to your heart. The metaphors of darkness and night apply because you do not know what is happening. You feel as if you must be dying



and you are. Some part of your old nature is being shorn away to make way for the new you cannot imagine, and over which you have no control.

Ultimately, we each have to find our own way in the dark, until we are thrown back onto land and the light of day. I share my truth, knowing no one can tell another what it takes to welcome this unwanted journey. It took me years to recover myself, and I fought it all the way, but I finally came to recog-nize that betrayal and trust form two poles of experience. Apparently, we can-not embrace one until we have drunk deeply of the other. Through destroying my trust, and taking me into more suffering than I had ever known, betrayal catalyzed a transformation inside that awakened qualities of faith, compas-sion, and love I barely imagined were possible.

During the long days and nights of blame and rage, of tears and star-ing off into space, beneath my awareness, strange mystic moments penetrated through the pain. These elusive flashes of truth, fleeting at first, but arrest-ing, planted seeds of renewed faith and trust in the ground of my own raw heart. With time, against all instinct, I learned to embrace the humiliation and heartbreak as the terrain I needed to pass through in order to deepen into secrets of a love my soul was hungry to taste.

Never before had I felt such intimate kinship with life around me. Never had my heart beaten in such rhythm with others in pain. Never had I sensed such a fervent need not to harm anyone else with my actions. Never had I felt the vast sadness I had carried in my bones my entire life. Never before had I sensed the touch of the “hands of light” comforting me, or the gentle power of the earth and sky supporting me, or the tender stirrings in my heart of what I could only call divine love flowing toward me.

All this took time, much more than I approved of. Meanwhile I thought the pain would never end. A turning point in my struggles came when I began to question the true source of my torments. One day, in one of those flashes, I intuited that the obvious villain—the person who had hurt me so griev-ously—had been but an instrument in the hands of an unseen destiny. I real-ized the peace I needed to make was not with my errant partner, but with my own heart, my fate, my God. The insight came and went, but the truth had touched my core.

While each story of love’s betrayal is unique, as are the individuals involved, betrayal is an archetypal experience. It is an event that we each carry in our collective memory, from the moment of being born into this world. Because of its archetypal core, the study of betrayal’s dynamics and impact has something to teach us all. If, however, you have been spared the trial of an intimate betrayal, what I describe may not make much sense to you. It may seem extreme, exaggerated, even melodramatic. That would have been



the case for me before I passed through this ordeal. I would not have had the slightest interest in a book such as this one. I had no idea.

For this reason, I offer this book primarily, and believe it will be most help-ful, for those who have been betrayed, now or in the past, by someone they loved and trusted; and for those wishing to help another navigate these waters. I offer my story and my perspective, along with the results of my research, not as an authority, but as a fellow traveler. I offer companionship, validation, and solace if you are going through this harrowing time. I admit right now that in the extended darkness, I despaired of ever trusting or caring enough to engage life again. While I hoped against hope that the proverbial “pearl of great price” was waiting to be found in the ruins of my torn-up heart, my doubts were grave. I chronicle many of those doubts here.

I can report that finally the miracle of saying yes to what I wanted least in my life did take root in my soul. To my surprise, the shattering of my world had magnetized a grace that was teaching me how and what to trust. As I write now, nearly five years later, recovering myself is a work in progress. But I have learned the greatest lesson in my life to date. Deep suffering invites us into mystery: The pain speaks a message we need and long to hear. The rage and yearning are prayers for truth, for love. At the point of utmost brokenness, I did indeed find a golden pearl—the longing cry of my own heart for a love that endures, a greater, divine love that cannot and does not die.

Please let my words resonate with your own experience where and how they will. I know I cannot speak for what anyone else is going through. But I trust that the universal core of this journey into and through the heart broken in love will ring true for many. I wish for you, too, to find your gold.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

SANDRA LEE DENNIS, PhD, is an author, teacher and explorer of the interplay of depth psychology and spirituality. She holds an MA in Psychology and a PhD in Integral Studies/ Psychology and Religion. She has been on the faculty of several universities, as well as the San Francisco Jung Institute.

Sandra’s writings bridge the world of scholar and visionary. She loves to bring light to those subtle interior spheres that defy description, and can appear frightening or unreal to the logical mind.  Her deep-diving explorations have helped many to “translate their darkness” — to name and bring compassion to their grief, anger, confusion and pain.

She was a teacher in the Gurdjieff tradition for many years, an Ananda Yoga instructor, and a long-time student of Diamond Heart work.  Currently, she is enjoying life in the Bay Area.

Website Address: www.sandraleedennis.com
Blog Address: http://www.sandraleedennis.com/healing-a-broken-heart-blog/
Twitter Address: https://twitter.com/Sandraleedennis
Facebook Address: https://www.facebook.com/SandraLeeDennisAuthor

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