The heartbreak of betrayal

Oct 17, 2019

QUESTION

Thank you, Venerable Robina, for three intense days of learning about Buddhism (I thought I knew already a fair bit but in truth, I do not).

Since my marital problems at the discovery of my partner’s multiple affairs accompanied by lies and manipulation, I have delved into understanding infidelity, related PTSD, why people cheat, and all the related things like co-dependency and addiction as linked to childhood abuse etc.

Your workshop and an understanding of karma is the only thing that diminished somewhat the ruthless pain and rumination.

I already know there will be a before and an after. I am changed. For all my previous understanding and for all my so-called practice, when the shit really hit the fan in my life two years ago, I realised that I was a fraud – I had no real tools or understanding that could scrape me out of the sewer of uncontrolled grief, anger, spewing verbal abuse from my mouth, even physical violence, overwhelming heartache and a vengeful, anguish-filled out-of-control mind.

These three days are the only things that have screwed my mind back on for the past two years, since I now know what is going on really. For that I will be truly thankful and grateful to you forever. I got it, and now know that I can never see anger or grief bubbling up in the same way. 

Now I need to seriously learn Buddhism. I thank you deeply for setting me on this path in such an unexpected way. 

But still I am not sure we will survive this betrayal as a couple – even though she wants to.

ANSWER

What do you want, B? Are you clear about that? To be a couple or to leave?

Much love,

Robina

QUESTION

Sometimes we want to stay together but today we do not. Too much betrayal, blame, suffering.

ANSWER

What do YOU want, B?

QUESTION

I am sorry. Betrayal is a terrible suffering that cracks open just about everything, including the heart. The thing is, sometimes I feel the way I described, and sometimes the opposite.

What I want is to find the still, essential place of knowing and loving, that my faith, strength and heart are connected.

ANSWER

Yes, perfect.

It’s brutal, but let’s take the strictly-Buddhist approach to all this pain; we need to label the various delusions — because they are what are causing you the pain, not her actions. 

We all know these words, but the meaning is mind-boggling. Shockingly, your pain has nothing to do with her — she’s merely the catalyst.

So, what are the delusions? 

1. The root delusion, ego-grasping, which assumes a separate self in the first place.

2. Then attachment, the primordial dissatisfaction that arises from the root delusion, which gives rise to the bottomless pit of emotional hunger and the assumption that the person — the object, the event, the thing out there — must fulfill our needs.

3. Then, of course, the anger, the rage — the outrage! — when she dares not to do what attachment expects.

4. Then the jealousy. . . Etc. etc.

It’s all very logical internally. 

These delusions all exist at the most primordial level, and at that level they’re virtually assumptions. And we only notice them when they become emotional — that’s the tip of the iceberg.

So real practice begins when we start to question these assumptions, these elaborate conceptual stories. This is the hardest thing to do. It’s not how we deal with things in our contemporary psychological models — not at all. We take all these assumptions as absolutes, as givens. Buddha goes deeper than that.

Meanwhile, take care of yourself, experience the pain, the rage, the hurt, the loss, the tears — but don’t buy into the conceptual stories of attachment, anger, etc.

Until you heal all this, no matter what she says or does as repentance won’t make any difference at all.

Love to you,

Robina

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