We've all felt betrayed or duped by people. We've all been hurt by people. We've all been disappointed by people we believed in, by people we trusted, by people we cared about.
I’ve believed in people I should not have. Through the years, I’ve gotten better at paying attention to red flags. I’ve gotten better at giving someone a fair chance with my eyes wide open. I’ve gotten better at deciding when I’m not going to accept certain behaviors anymore. Yet when I discover someone’s lied to me or betrayed me, it still shocks me.
First, I question my judgment. Then I realize if I didn’t ignore obvious signs, it's not a bad thing to believe in the inherent goodness in people in spite of their flaws and messiness. It's not a bad thing to give them the opportunity to do the next right thing. After all, people change. Or they don’t.
Does it hurt when they do not do the next right thing? Yes, it hurts something fierce. The disappointment is difficult to stomach without feeling like it wasn't a betrayal. It's hard to not personalize it. But I've learned that someone's decision whether or not they do the next right thing has nothing to do with me. If I personalize it, I am carrying a cross to bear that is not mine to carry, I am carrying responsibility for someone's decisions that is not mine to take.
Believing in that person's capacity to do hard things was not a bad judgment on my part. Everyone has the capacity to do the next right thing. Believing in someone while knowing we are all flawed is a sign of my softness in this hard world, is a sign that Grace does live in me, is a sign that I'm as messy as the next person and I won't let someone's flaws dictate my fate or sense of self.
I've learned that when I'm disappointed when someone shows me who he/she really is in this moment, I just need to honor myself and move him/her to another circle in my life. People need to earn the right to hear my story and earn the right to have access to my soul. Grace has taught me that when people show me they no longer have that right, I need not lash out in anger or wallow in despair. Grace has taught me lovingkindness, and that I just need to move those people into the periphery of my life, or out of my life.
Grace has taught me to not be a sucker. Grace has taught me to not be bitter. Grace has taught me that when someone lies to you, he/she is lying to him/herself, and those consequences are worse than any consequence I could bestow. I've learned that when someone decides to not do the hard work of being honest with you, it oftentimes means they're not entirely honest with him or herself. I've learned that someone's inability to do hard things in life has nothing to do with me. Grace has taught me to continue to be open to others trying to do the next right thing.
Grace has taught me to trust that I can and should remain open to allowing others to show me if they will do hard things in life, if they will do the next right thing. Grace has given me the strength to continue to believe in people while honoring and respecting myself enough to have boundaries if they do not honor or respect me.
I used to get really, really angry when I realized someone disappointed me or lied to me or was not the person I thought he/she was. I used to lash out in hurt because how dare this person do this to ME, I deserve better than this. I've since realized that when someone chooses to not do hard things, to not do the next right thing, he/she is hurting others too, not just me. More importantly, he/she is hurting him/herself. Grace gives me the empathy to understand and accept this, and move on in my life without this person, because I do deserve better than that. Because if I hold on to the anger, this person remains in my life.
It's always sad to remove people from my life, but it's a much sadder tale to tell if I allowed these people to remain in my life, if I allowed them to continue to disrespect my belief in them, my boundaries, my self-respect.
Grace has taught me that holding on to the anger, or holding on to the hurt, or holding on to the betrayal, is so heavy that it keeps me stuck in one place, in the past. Grace has taught me that it costs me nothing to put down such heavy things and move forward, into peace.
Grace has taught me some funny yet useful lessons, like I need not attend every argument I'm invited to. I also need not attend every pity party that hardens me when I'm betrayed, lied to, disappointed. I can send my regrets and attend other parties instead, parties that include lots of good wine and good food and good people who honor me and do the next right thing by me. Grace has taught me she throws one hell of a party.