How Our Hearts Are Changed By Betrayal

 

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You haven’t always been this way.

You haven’t always been a body lined with thorns, a heart wrapped in razor wire; hard lines and jaded eyes.

Distant, aloof, guarded.

There was a time you were shades of pastel; when your heart knew love, and trust rested freely upon your fingertips.

There was a time your days were painted with innocence. Where eager eyes gazed at the world with hope and wonder, your heart still shiny and new.

But all of this changed the moment you were betrayed by someone you loved. Someone you trusted. Someone who should have protected you. Someone who hurt you instead. Someone who allowed you to be hurt by others.

There is little else that shatters a heart as much as the pain of betrayal. It tears you open, rips your heart out of your chest. You don’t want to put it back, you want to leave it on the floor to bleed until there is nothing left, until the blood runs dry and you no longer have to feel a damn thing anymore. But you can’t. You have to go on. So you pick your heart off the floor and place it back inside your hollow chest.

Except, the heart that you put back is never the same heart. It is wounded, war-torn. It no longer seeks love, but only to protect itself from the pain of ever being betrayed again.

A heart that is betrayed is changed forever.

No longer will it trust anyone again, but greets every person with reservation and fear; wary of a world that has proven to only take advantage for its own benefit. It remains hyper-vigilant in its desperate need to prove itself right; forever searching for the cracks inside another person that prove they too are unworthy of trust. It needs to know its enemy. It needs to remain one step in front at all times. Kindness is met with suspicion, for your heart has learned nothing comes without a cost – there are always strings, always an agenda. Your heart rejects kindness, remains cynical of it, refuses to accept it. It would rather suffer on its own than accept kindness that allows it to become vulnerable to another.

Your heart no longer knows how to trust itself either, and it makes vows to stay hard, to stay tough. Never will I want again. Never will I need again. Never will I trust again. Never will I love again. These vows are the cornerstones of the fortress it builds around itself, the strongholds that keep the walls in place. It gives up hope of ever being protected and instead learns to protect itself. It becomes a slave to its independence, its autonomy. Here, in its fortress, it is safe. Here, behind its walls, it can remain distant, removed.

Here, your heart can trust itself not to feel. 

For betrayal has taught your heart how dangerous it is to feel. To want, to need. To desire love, relationship, connection. No, your heart must deaden itself to its desires. It must wake each morning with one goal of attack – to kill your hungry soul. To destroy your desires before they destroy you. Your heart cannot afford to want, it is too dangerous, too much of a risk that will lead to being hurt again. This is how your heart stays safe – it refuses to be tempted by love ever again.

Except, your heart was created for relationship. Your heart was created for intimacy. But intimacy is the enemy, the biggest threat. Intimacy requires your heart to be vulnerable, to let someone close. To betray its own desires in the hope it will not be betrayed because of them. Intimacy is the most dangerous of all, and your heart turns itself away and chooses to live without hope of relationship, of closeness, of oneness with another.

Betrayal has changed your heart.

It has damaged your heart.

It has left it powerless, helpless, vulnerable, wounded, damaged, guarded, broken. Your heart can no longer trust, does not trust. It no longer believes in the goodness of anyone else’s heart. It no longer believes it is worthy of being loved, of being protected. It is tired from living in a constant state of anticipation and expectation that it will be hurt and betrayed once more. It no longer wants to love, no longer knows how to love. It has become numb, deadened to its desires, and you tell yourself you are content with this.

That here, you are safe. You are in control. You are untouchable.

Except, you are lonely. So goddamn lonely.

And this is the paradox of betrayal.

You are scared of relationship, yet relationship is the very thing that will heal your heart.

Dear heart, there is a need for you to be safe.

But there is a greater need for you to be loved.

The only way to heal is through love. You must find the courage to pull down your fortress. It has kept you safe. But you have dwelled long enough in your solitude. In your loneliness. It is time to lay down your weapons. Surrender is not defeat, but the end of the fight.

To love is to risk hurt. To trust is to risk betrayal. But you must risk so that you may heal.

Your heart has learned how to stay safe, how to survive.

Now, it must learn how to once again love.

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I Wish I Could Be Better For You

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I wish I could be better for you
That I could be like the poems
You read when you can’t sleep
Like the first taste of red wine
That kisses your eager mouth
Or the drops of saltwater that
Cling to your skin on a hot day
I wish your fingers didn’t bleed
From holding on so tight to me
That your ribs were not broken
From the way you fit my heart
Inside the safety of your chest
I wish I was more than sadness
That I could be louder than my
Silence and softer than my rage
I wish I had been taught of love
The love you are well taught in
Not the kind of love that forces
Your legs open in the nighttime
And fills your mouth with shame
I wish I was not made of mistrust
And sewn together with betrayal
Maybe then I would know how to
Be like the woman in your poems
Maybe then I would know how to
Be better for you.

I’m Sorry That I’m Not Easier To Love

Easier to love

I’m sorry that I’m not easier to love
That I am made of barbwire fences
And walls crowned with razor wire
There is blood all over your fingers
You are a true warrior, determined
I admire your courage to continue
Even though you are ripped apart
By the piercing of my cold silence
I long to let down my sharp edges
But my skin has already been torn
And I’m scared to cut myself open
To allow you to step closer to me
For I have sewn the bloody hands
Of everyone who has come before
Who thank me that I mended them
Then watch me bleed until I die.

~ © Kathy Parker ~

I Forgive You, And In Doing So, Forgive Myself

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Today I woke with your name upon my tongue, bitter, like the dregs of whisky that burned my throat last night as I drank to the sound of sad movies and faded dreams.

Bitter, like the taste of poison in my veins.

Once, you were the tender kiss of morning coffee upon my lips, the gentle warmth of the sun as it streamed through worn blinds and washed over our bones; our limbs tangled in the bed we used to share.

Now there is only the imprint of your memory, laid to rest in the cold grave next to me where you belong no more.

Yet still you remain, trapped inside my heart where the acidity of all we became seeps into my bloodstream and contaminates my flesh, my organs, my soul.

Yet still you remain, trapped inside the walls of my unforgiveness where I have refused to set you free. Where I have imprisoned you to my hatred, to make you suffer the wrath of my anger the way I had to suffer yours.

Except, the only person who suffers, is me.

I step outside, barefoot, and feel the cool of grass between my toes. The air is fresh, pure, and I breathe it into my lungs, ache for it to cleanse the remnants of you that reside within my core.

No longer do I wish to keep you here, inside my heart, where you corrode my veins. No longer do I wish to keep you here, where I am shackled to pain, where I am captive to misery with every breath I take.

I gaze at the horizon where city meets sky and in this moment I know.

There is nothing to do but forgive you.

There is no weakness in forgiving you, it is not an ill-fought surrender.

It is bravery, it is strength. It is release, liberation; freedom.

It is an act of love.

Not only in setting you free.

But in setting myself free.

Because in forgiving you, I forgive me.

I forgive the girl who needed to be loved, whatever the cost, no matter how much it hurt. Who didn’t understand back then how much she was worth and all that she deserved. Who settled for less, settled for abuse, turned the other cheek, all in the name of love.

I forgive the girl who made mistakes, who made wrong choices, who hurt other people because of how much she was hurting. I forgive her that she stayed, when she should have walked away. I forgive her vulnerability, her weakness, her desperate need for acceptance. I forgive her that she didn’t know how to fight for her heart back then.

But now she does.

Three simple words.

I forgive you.

No longer will I continue to hurt you for the way you hurt me.

But more importantly, no longer will I continue to hurt myself.

I step back inside, get dressed, and make myself some coffee. The day stretches out before me like any other.

Nothing has changed, except, everything has.

Finally, I am free.

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