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The Many Faces of Grief: B

Bullying, Betrayal

On bullying:

“School administrators can’t say it’s up to the parents. Parents can’t say it’s up to the teachers. Teachers can’t say it’s not their job. And kids can’t say, “I was too afraid to tell.” Every single one of us has to play our role if we’re serious about putting an end to the madness. We are all responsible. We must be.”

~ Megan Kelley Hall

Students who are bullied in school are more likely to have access to a loaded gun than their peers, causing an increased risk for youth violence and self-harm, according to new research.

~ University of Washington School of Public Health,

Journal of Adolescent Health, June 2017

Indeed, schools have a huge problem with traditional bullying, both physical and verbal, and cyberbullying is even more serious. The Violence Project, headed by Jillian Peterson, PhD and James Densley, PhD, have identified the pathway to gun violence in America and confirmed what we already suspect: the systems are not working. Dear Readers, I really want to underscore the serious nature of this topic and the importance of their research. We will be looking at this more closely in a future post, but meanwhile, I invite you to check out their book, The Violence Project: How to Stop a Mass Shooting Epidemic.

For now, however, let’s get real about the bullying that goes on in every realm of society and across all demographics of the population. It’s an enormous trend, a unique form of violence and a chronic national grief.

Let’s pause a moment and ask, “Where does it begin?” Would you agree with me that it’s all about the POWER dynamic? This 3D world that we inhabit seems to be all about experiencing power at every level. All we have to do is tune into the evening news to see how it’s playing out on a global level. But on a personal level, life seems to mirror our deep quest to know ourselves in all ways: powerful AND powerless. Just think about it: when do you feel powerless, and where does that feeling come from?

Oh, yes, this gets very personal, doesn’t it? But to understand the bully, we have to begin right where we are, at home. It feels good to be powerful; and it feels horrible to feel powerless, and haven’t we all been there, in both corners? To understand the bully – indeed to have compassion for the bully – is to recognize the bully within. If we’re in the other shoe, though, we only have to recognize the victim within. I don’t think you can know one without the other. And this takes us to the heart of grief – the necessary suffering – the shadowlands that we mostly avoid at all costs.

Yes, we all know this bully/victim polarity, and as Megan Kelly Hall states, we are all responsible. How so? And where does happiness and well-being reside on this spectrum?

“When tears come, I breathe deeply and rest. I know I am swimming in a hallowed stream where many have gone before. I am not alone, crazy, or having a nervous breakdown. My heart is at work. My soul is awake.”

~ Mary Margaret Funk, Thoughts Matter

A bully is often a victim of abuse, neglect and personal trauma; he has not taken a look at the shadows; he has turned away from himself, and he is choosing to project his feelings onto someone over whom he sees as weaker. His insecurities and self-hatred have morphed into anger, depression, hatred, and fixed ideologies that reign terror over innocents.

Richard Rohr suggests that all violence begins with the personal, at a point of decision, a crossing of a line. The ultimate purpose of each act of violence, each reduction of another person is to control the other and/or exact revenge. If we’re staying true to the journey of life, we each have to look at our own shadows and take some ownership. In the process, we will surely gain much humility and compassion.

Dear Reader, an ancient code of compassion states that “Each and every event in our lives is an opportunity to demonstrate mastery.” I really love this code; mastery speaks of personal empowerment – not power or control over another, but pausing long enough to connect to our deep, inner wisdom and resilience. While the pathways to violence are being identified by experts, we might begin to carve out our pathways to peace and well-being in a world full of bullies and victims – to find our own healthy balance between the bully and the victim – to stand powerfully in a grieving society that badly needs each of us. I believe that this is our role in these challenging times.

I understand that my emotional feelings give me information about what is happening in my life; but my deep heart tells me the best way to deal with that information, including doing nothing and letting it pass by. I know I am connected to my deep heart when I feel peaceful and calm inside.

~Clive Duffy and Team Uplift

On Betrayal:

Betrayal is a brutal grief. It’s shattering. And it can stalk you all the days of your life. I know that’s heavy. But it’s true. Absolutely. For those of you who are willing and courageous to take on this grief, I bow deeply before you. Gently, gently – we begin.

Let’s first talk about the perception of “betrayal”. Believe it or not, it’s not usually a deliberate act against us; indeed, the betrayer may not even be aware of having hurt you! Nevertheless, we blame and rage and suffer intense grief when we perceive betrayal.

“It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” Shakespeare

Our deepest connections in life are with those that we love and have imbued with trust and many other beautiful qualities that may or may not be authentic. When it comes to betrayal, TRUST is the essential ingredient, and it’s a tricky one! You’ll see what I mean: read on!

So, who do we trust? To whom do we offer this elusive and very precious gift? Are they worthy of your trust? And are YOU trustworthy? Such deep self-inquiry is another essential ingredient when it comes to our topic of the day: Betrayal. We bestow our trust on people that we love, on our leaders, colleagues and authority figures; we trust in our institutions such as churches, political parties, educational, judicial, medical and financial institutions; we trust our ethnicity, our racial identity and people who look like us and believe in the same values and ways of being in the world. No doubt, a lot of that trust is naively misplaced.

And that brings us to the heart of the matter: finally! And that heart is YOU! Just a reminder here – go back to my first paragraph and note that we are talking about willingness and courage. I bow again before you, Dear Reader, if you’re still with me.

The truth is that most of us are pretty wounded when it comes to trust. We’ve grown up with people and in places that were supposed to care for us and keep us safe. Indeed, many of us were betrayed early on. All of us were conditioned and imprinted with programs, beliefs and all kinds of structures that have very literally shaped us and created our personal identity – the way we see ourselves and the world.

Betrayal is one of those programs, and it comes up again and again until we finally decide – and yes, it is a decision! We make a decision to heal the wound of betrayal. With great tenderness and compassion, I am here to tell you that the grief of betrayal can be healed and transcended. And like a good mother, I have the recipe, and it’s tried and true. Trust me!

In preparation for this healing experience, you have to be willing to step into the abyss. Begin now to plan a private retreat where you will be free of intrusions – where you can have the quiet, the time and space surrounded by as much Nature as possible.

Now go back in time to your earliest experience or memory of betrayal. It may just be a sliver of a memory, a knowing without much substance. Trust that; and without emotion or judgment, name it. Stay with the facts as much as possible. We don’t want to re-play or re-traumatize ourselves in this remembering. Be gentle.

Then realize deeply that it was essential to your life journey that you have this experience. It was your fate and you are meant to learn from it and heal it.

Thank all the participants and those you believe to have “betrayed” you. Indeed, they played a role for you. Consider Shakespeare here: “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players; they have their exits and their entrances, and one man in his time plays many parts.” How did Shakespeare figure this out?!

Now thank all the players! That’s right. Forgive them the judgments you have placed upon them. Don’t fudge on this. Stay with it until it’s real and felt.

Accept that the pattern of betrayal will come up again and again until you are conscious and mature enough to see what’s going on.

Every time you get triggered by even the whiff of betrayal, you’re at a choice-point; congratulate yourself on this! It’s a wonderful thing to grow in awareness.

Back into self-inquiry, we ask, “What is the lesson here? What is there in me that is drawing this experience to me?” As you dig in, you’ll finally realize that the very seed of betrayal that was planted in childhood has germinated an embryo of self-betrayal. This embryo – a harmless little thing - is the magnet that draws real betrayal and perceived betrayal into your life. It’s the teacher that offers the lesson. So beautiful!

Yes, this is a bitter pill. Maybe it’s time for a walk; a good cry; a break-down. Or all three at once. All good. It’s time, and you can do it. The rest is easy from here – a down-hill run!

Release the pattern with gratitude. It’s done its job and now you are freer and more awake than ever. You can begin to trust yourself!

Make a vow to yourself that you will never again betray yourself, and believe me when I say that self-betrayal will sneak up on you a lot from here on because it’s been unconscious for a long time! Be vigilant and do a self-check often. Just check in and ask, “Was I kind to myself in that moment, or was that an instance of self-betrayal?”

I offer a full disclosure here, Dear Reader: Having worked through this process myself, I discovered that in the most devastating betrayals of my life, my own self-betrayal was at the heart of them. Yes.

Finally! Yes, finally, you can bring all of this to an amazing closure and embody the lesson by sharing your story with a trusted friend. There is something very powerful in hearing yourself testify and signify the grief of betrayal. Give it meaning! You are bringing healing into the world – you are Light!



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