Wednesday, January 19, 2011

by Michele Toomey, Ph.D

Copyright © 1999-2009 Liberation Psychology

At first glance one would imagine that abusive betrayal of love refers to having an affair. That is not my focus here, however. Affairs constitute a betrayal of love, but not necessarily an abusive one. I am placing the emphasis on abusive, and that cruel act must have deliberate meanness, indifference to the pain being inflicted, and more often than not, punishment as its intent. For betrayal of love to be abusive, it must have some or all of these traits. In this particular commentary, I would like to direct attention to the abuse that frequently occurs when a relationship ends.

Usually only one person wants to end a relationship. The other is often heartbroken and devastated at the prospect of losing the one s/he loves. Obviously, a very vulnerable time for both , if both have integrity and are invested in each other. However, if the one terminating the relationship lacks integrity, the only vulnerable one is the one being left. Rejection is a stinging pain that strikes deep and shatters one's world. It is the worst time to be abused. Not that there is ever a good time for abuse, since it should never occur, but there are definitely times when we are less able, even unable to deal with abuse. Being left by someone is definitely one of those times.

Why would meanness, punishment, or indifference to pain be a part of terminating a loving relationship anyway? There are many reasons, but in my opinion, the most devastating one is arrogance. Arrogance covers a multitude of sins and allows the arrogant one to feel superior by being innocent, above the fray, and above anything the one being left feels, says, or thinks. The arrogant perceive themselves as protected and set apart and better than others. Underlying abuse is already occurring just by the presence of arrogance. In and of itself, arrogance is abusive. No one is innocent when a relationship ends. Everyone has played some part, even if it is ignoring that there's a problem. No one is above the fray. It prevents fair confrontation and accountability and it certainly prevents intimacy and understanding. To be superior to the one we're leaving is crushing to the one being left. Being the one left is already an inferior position. Add arrogance, and it's salt in the wound. To be crushed and stepped on and feeling shunned during the dissolution of a partnership is truly abusive. The ground is fertile for blatant abuse which certainly is an absolute betrayal of love.

Arrogance is, by its nature, mean spirited because it gets its stature by putting others down. Deliberate meanness flows easily from the distance and superiority it provides. To maintain superiority, the other must be put down, blamed, ignored, disdained, or ridiculed. A very cruel twist of the bond of love. If the rejected one pleads, cries, screams, or rants and raves, and it is received by arrogantly cold indifference and/or cutting remarks, it creates a climate of total powerlessness. Nothing is heard, nothing is felt, nothing is given any credibility or any respect, and certainly there is no caring. A devastating sense of being nothing but rejected and deserving of it, yields the ultimate betrayal of love. Punishment and exile are all that is available. Total devastation is, and should be, the outgrowth of this cruelty.

No one should be treated this way, least of all, one who had been loved and who still loves. There is a deliberateness to the cold indifference of "justified" arrogance that puts it in a class by itself, abusive betrayal. I warn any of you who even have a whiff of this attitude within yourself or in the relationship, do not tolerate it. Take aggressive steps immediately to address and change it. Like cancer, caught in its early stages, there is a good chance it can be eliminated, but allowed to grow unchecked and unattended, it can spread until it permeates the relationship, eventually, killing it. In its final stages, arrogance allows the arrogant one to create a world view that puts everything in a perspective that interprets things the "arrogant" way. Integrity is nowhere to be seen, manipulation, deception and outright lies are everywhere. It is an air tight system. There is no way out except total termination of the relationship. It works, but at the price of fairness, and integrity, say nothing of respect, caring, and accountability. It is an out and out betrayal of love. There is no justification for it and there should be no tolerance for it either.

The only antidote is integrity. Cling to it like your sanity and your life depend on it. They do. Integrity will allow you to sustain yourself as you suffer the pain and devastation of an arrogant ex-lover. Stare at the truth, trumpet the truth and embrace the truth. Claim every single thing that you are aware of that is your part in this failed relationship, but do not turn the truth into a weapon. Use it for insight and clarity. Use it for balm and for healing. Use it to learn and grow. Become wiser, more liberated, more committed to having a relationship governed by integrity, fairness, and respect that means continually confronting yourself and each other and demanding accountability. Understanding, caring and intimacy will be the outgrowth of such a relationship, never meanness, indifference or punishment. If the relationship changes, and feelings change and you might someday need to separate, it can be done painfully but respectfully, not meanly and abusively.

Nothing ever justifies abuse. Nothing. And to abuse someone you once loved and who loved and may still love, is a betrayal, an unadulterated betrayal of love. In my opinion, a heinous act that must never, ever be tolerated and certainly never given legitimacy. 
Authored by Michelle Toomey
Reprinted with her kind permission

Visit Michele Toomey's Website: Liberation Psychology