Saturday, September 5, 2009

Making Peace with Betrayal

I watched Helen Hunt’s movie (Then She Found Me) the other day. I even watched all the special features, including the movie with director’s voice-over. I recommend the movie. I found it moving: funny and sad; insightful, true.

Turns out I had written about some main themes in this movie year and a quarter ago – because I had read Helen Hunt being interviewed about it and I was really moved. (added below)

I watched the movie and didn’t realize it was THAT movie until it was done. I’d ‘accidentally’ bought the DVD at goodwill for $4 because it had great people in it.

Ho ho, in the flow!


Monday, June 02, 2008

Hi Friends,

I haven’t seen Helen Hunt's new movie, J & Y weren't overly impressed by it.

But, I received some treasure from reading about her process with it. This is from an interview Redbook, May 08:

I spent a lot of years writing, then put the script away because I just couldn't get it made. The best movies have one sentence that they're exploring, a thesis, something that people can argue about over dinner afterward. I couldn't say what that was.

At the time, I was wanting a baby. April's younger in the novel, and I thought, You either have a baby, want a baby, or don't want a baby, but you don't nothing a baby if you're in your 30s or 40s. Then a friend sent me an essay by James Hillman [author of The Soul's Code] called "Betrayal." I studied and studied it. I started to realize that people will think this movie is about adoption or motherhood, but for me it's about this issue of betrayal. April feels betrayed by everybody. She betrays herself. She feels betrayed by God. I finally landed on the idea that you can't be loved until you make peace with betrayal. With that, I had a compass for the movie.

I read this line and I was arrested by it:
you can't be loved until you make peace with betrayal.

WOW, That sets an interesting and useful context for issues I have been chewing on and struggling with in the last few years, and for most of my life. And it is not just me, I see other folks that I am close to be “hooked” around the issues in this arena.

So, of course, I immediately found this essay (last night), and I am already profiting from it - and I expect I will continue to find continued blessing as I dwell here. Hillman presents several aspects to this issue of betrayal that I find to be useful places to stand to consider my own world-view and experience; it has already given me useful insight into others’ choices around things like intimacy and leadership, as well.

If you are interested, here is a link.

I hope you are enjoying your cycles of love and learning!


  1. Isaiah 45:3
    And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the LORD, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel.

  2. My response to a friend about this post:

    My partner of 15 years, Michael, and I are in process with this kind of brokenness. Around our 10 year anniversary, we tripped and fell flat on our face, in our relationship. Each of us felt deeply betrayed by the other. Each of us acted unbelievably hurtfully toward the other. It was one of the most terrible things in my life. AND it forced me, and him, to change: radically.

    In many ways, it would have been easier if we had separated - a lot easier! We could have maintained who we thought we were, and what we thought we wanted in the world, and in relationship. I would have lost a wonderful love and a fun partner, but I could have held on to some illusions about myself, and how I want to be seen and loved… romantic fantasies. But we chose to stay together and work, and allow transformation. It is paying off in our spiritual, emotional, personal and relational growth tremendously. Meanwhile, we are still in the process of healing and forgiveness, 5 years later, still sometimes tripping on the dregs! Yes, it is a dark blessing.

    Around your comment:
    “We don't really fear being betrayed as much as we fear betraying someone else”

    For 5 years, I have been dealing with the consequences of what felt like Michael’s betrayal of me and what felt like to him my betrayal of him in return. Although at first it was my pain that was so blaring I couldn't see straight, or handle it head-on. As time has gone on, though, and as I have healed more and more, it is his pain that has been the greater weight for me. To allow him his experience of my betraying him, to allow him his perspective of me as perpetrator, and to be experienced as a channel of pain and fear for him has been a devastating process for me. WORSE than this is living with his shifted view of me, more in reality, and including (for a long time to a pronounced degree) my shadow.

    Hillman says this, and it is not a fun transition:
    “If one has been let down in a relationship, one is tempted... to see, sudden and at once, the other’s shadow, a vast panoply of vicious demons which were of course simply not there in primal trust. These ugly sides of the other suddenly revealed are all compensations for, an enantiodromia of, previous idealizations.”

    As healthy as the process and outcome may be, I chafe at causing such difficult emotions and story. But far worse, has been the grievous shift, to live through my falling so far off "the pedestal." As much as I want to be known and loved for who I am - it is a horrific process to be seen and known in my brokenness and frailty and meanness - to be feared and hated… and loved even so.

    This is the healing path, to be cracked open, and to let the darkness into the light. But there is a reason it isn't in any romance novels, this process is not what I consciously wanted in relationship! Well, I wanted the rewards, the fruit of a long and loving relationship, but I didn't want the pain and confrontation!

    If the rewards were not so great, I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. But, I do wish it for us all: because this is what real love is, we can enter mature relationship with ourselves and the other based in reality. This kind of deep breakdown is an invitation to Real Life, not shared romantic projections.

    Anyway, for me the bottom line about betrayed or betrayer is: I don’t want to be the betrayer because I don’t want to carry the pain of hurting someone I love, of letting them down. But I have found, even deeper than that is my ego: wanting to be seen as ‘good’ and ‘loving’ and ‘kind’, etc (by others and especially in my own view of myself). People experience all those enjoyable things with me, and this is valid. But I contain multitudes, and the opposite experience is readily available in relationship with me, an experience of un-enjoyable Wendy. I have found THIS to be is the deep essence of my not wanting to betray, I hold on to wanting others (and myself!!!) to maintain a ‘positive’ picture of me.