It was too important and relevant to so many of us living with (and without) dementia not to start a blog about it and quote her here, It has taken me some time however, to write it. Tracey wrote:
“A lot of us have talked about betrayal in the past few days. I still feel pain whenever I am reminded of those, who I considered friends, supporters, co workers, betrayed me in order to win favor with my workplace bully. To those who do not understand what betrayal does to a person’s emotional health, read this…”
Thanks Tracey, for your words and for the image/quote, which have both inspired me to think and write about this topic.
From my personal experience, betrayal trauma is a pain so great, it took my breath away. Furthermore, I now believe it is like alcohol ‘recovery’. We never ever lose the pain and every single day, we are needing to find ways to deal with and live with it, even at a subconscious level.
We are in ‘recovery’ from betrayal trauma, permanently.
Dealing with betrayal, which is 100% a form of bullying, and the betrayal trauma that lives with us for the rest of our lives, alongside dementia (either diagnosed with it, or supporting someone with dementia) definitely makes it more difficult to manage.
A young man who is very close to me, and was ‘abandoned’ by his biological mother when he was very young appears to have a lot of baggage from this experience, including betrayal trauma. He’s not yet accepted he will be in permanent ‘recovery from it, and although has had a ‘on and off’ relationship with her most of his life, is really struggling to understand it is up to him to do the work to heal, to move on, and to forgive her. It is difficult to accept and to understand it is never going to go away. I grew up in a very dysfunctional family, and it continues to be a constant process of ‘recovery’, even now.
When relationships are toxic, even when there at times they seem to be going well, they can ‘become actively toxic’ again, at any moment. Living with an abusive partner is like that too, and both cause forms of betrayal trauma.
One does not expect a parent to betray them, nor a person they once loved enough to marry or have a child with.
Personally, I have also been betrayed by those who claimed to be friends, and also by family, and have realised too I will never ‘recover’ from this, even though I have learned to get back on and live my life positively again.
A woman who I had thought to be a friend, Sally P, warned me a few years ago some of my ‘friends’ were saying I was faking medical conditions. She even met with me over coffee to tell me to my face, even telling me I’d be shocked to know who they were, but then refused to tell me who they were.
Sometime later, a very harmful public defamation (betrayal) probably by the same people she was referring to happened; this hurt my sons and husband perhaps even more than me . It also further damaged relationships with other family members, which were already troubled.
If she’d had the decency to tell me who was lying about me, I could have resolved it, and then perhaps it would never have happened…
But no, she refused to, and therefore I feel she metaphorically fed me to the ‘wolves’. Her lack of honesty then was as harmful to me as the lies told by those who defamed and betrayed me. In fact it is like knowing that someone is being bullied, or knowing about a paedophile, and doing nothing; it makes you as bad as the perpetrators. Perhaps I am being too judgemental, and they were not the same cohort she was referring to… difficult to know, when a ‘friend’ won’t be honest with you, but I have to suspect some of them were in the group she was referring to.
Many of my friends diagnosed with dementia have not only been deserted by many of their family and friends, some have been similarly betrayed and publicly defamed, including by those who had publicly promised to support them…
This really does my head in… if only all care partners were as amazing and loyal as my husband, my sons, and my friend Shibley, who supports his mum 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
To these very special men, and my other very loyal family and friends, I LOVE YOU ALL.
Loyalty and unconditional love is all that really matters.