Healing After Rejection, Betrayal or Abandonment

oprahFew things feel worse than being betrayed, left, or rejected, and yet, most of us will experience all of these at least once. The first time something like this happens is the worst, because we don’t have a frame of reference for it; we’re left to piece together the “new normal”, even if it happens when we’re little. I still remember the morning I woke up and my mom told me my dad didn’t live with us anymore; I was four. I remember going to his drawers and closets, and opening everything up, and trying to make sense of this new reality. At four, you have no tools, you just have feelings, but it’s not much easier at twenty-four, or ever.

When someone hurts us, for whatever reason, particularly someone with whom we were very close, it’s knifing. If you have any doubt about your value as a beautiful human being with something special to contribute, few things will bring it into greater question than the feelings we suffer when someone leaves us, because the deep fear is that they got close enough to see the truth of our unworthiness. They got to know us, and actually, they decided we were not so special. Most of the time, that’s not at all what has happened, though.

First of all, if someone betrays you, they’re in a place where they are not respecting themselves. Anyone who lies to your face, or fails to communicate information that deeply impacts you, is lost to themselves. Lying feels terrible. Resorting to sneakiness because you’re unable to express what’s in your heart is a certain kind of agony. Even worse is when a person is in a place where they can justify terrible behavior by making everything your fault. Sometimes people are so desperate to feel something, anything, to break the chains of their own apathy or discomfort or despair, they just act out. My point is, a person who acts in a hurtful or careless way is not in a good place on his or her own path. Their current lack of kindness or integrity is not a reflection on you, or anything lacking within you. It’s a reflection of where they find themselves on their own journey.

If you’ve been left in the dark, that’s so painful, and I’m sorry you’re going through that; a lack of communication when something comes to an end is a coward’s choice. The inability to honor what was once beautiful is a real shame. No one deserves to be ignored or shunned, or left in a vacuum to try to figure out what’s happened, but sometimes it goes down that way. Understand that sometimes people are not ready or able to face themselves, and so they can’t face you. It’s nothing you did or said, it’s nothing you didn’t do, it’s not a character flaw of yours. Remember we can’t do each other’s journeys. People have the tools they have, that’s all they’ve got to use.

Also, closure is a bit overrated. Even if you understand every nuance of why something has ended, you’re still going to suffer. Do I think it’s easier if you are able to end something with respect and honesty and integrity? Of course. I’m just saying it takes two, and if you’re in a situation with someone who is unable to do that with you, your best hope of closure may be simple acceptance. I say simple, not easy.

Try to recognize there are all kinds of things that might lead a person to act in a way that’s so hard to comprehend. Maybe they’ve been so deeply hurt, they know no other way than to lash out or shut down or take off. Imagine if your choices were limited like that. There are people in the world who don’t feel empathy. There are known personality disorders that can lead a person to act in ways that make you shake your head. The lack of love when it’s most needed can do that to a person. Imagine growing up without feeling seen or heard. I’m not saying it’s okay when people treat us poorly, or unconscionably, I’m saying it might help you to consider the source. That probably wouldn’t be a happy place to find yourself.

If you’ve been hurt, your best response is to seek out the tools that will help you to heal, and learn and grow from your experience. Life gives us a choice: we can be hardened by what happens along our journeys, or we can be softened by it. I highly recommend softening. We don’t need more hard people. We need people who have insight and who understand compassion and kindness. We need more people who are willing to examine their participation in situations that dimmed their light. We need more people to understand they’re worthy, just by the fact of their own existence. Use the “stuff” of your life to open and grow. The human heart is resilient and we all naturally want to heal. Pain is part of the journey toward liberation from suffering, facing it and working with it and leaning into it. That’s how you release yourself.

Wishing that for you, and sending love,

Ally Hamilton

19 thoughts on “Healing After Rejection, Betrayal or Abandonment”

  1. Thank You!!! I was blindsided 6 months ago after living together for 2 yrs. it was a very diffficult time in my life, I had just gotten out of the hospital after an infection from hysterectomy surgery, my son had been sentenced to prison and i was in a court battle for visitation of his daughter with her mom… he said it was over, he left, left all his clothes and only text to find out when he could pick up his furniture… i moved myself, when i should have been resting from being in the hospital for 7 days… Never spoke to him again and found out he started dating someone else1 week after leaving. treated me like i was notch in his belt. Never saw it coming. this blog has honestly opened my eyes!! thank you again 🙂

  2. Ally,
    Thank you so much for that, those words were extremely uplifting and really touched my heart. In college, I was physically and emotionally abandoned by my first love. We were friends that had become extremely close and began a romantic relationship. Are relationship evolved to the point where eventually began speaking of marriage. I was the happiest I had ever been in my life, he was my first everything and I thought I would be with him forever. He was in the navy and eventually got stationed far away. We handled the distance at first, then things began to change. I could feel it. He began ignoring me and being short. Eventually he became very angry with me the more hurt I expressed. He said very viciouse things-some still haunt me to this day. The break up was horrific, he eventually pretended I did not exist. Erased me from his life. Replaced me as if we had nothing. Came to town and pretended as if he didn’t know who I was. I never saw him again and one day when I just couldn’t take that he was leaving things this way I called him. Of course he had nothing nice to see even though a few months had passed. His last words were, “you never meant anything to me, are relationship meant nothing.” After he hung up those words stuck with me for months. I thought I was over it but I am now realizing that I only PARTIALLY dealt with this rejection. It’s been two years and I’m barely realizing this. Your words have definitely helped me.

  3. Thank you Ally, this helped me today. Feeling rejected and now betrayed is not easy, I have been through it several times, but it feels more acute every time, it’s never easy. Good to talk to people who care and read bits of wisdom to get through the despair.

  4. Thank you. I too have just experienced the worst betrayal just 2 days after my birthday. I don’t understand because even then he had told me he can’t wait to spend his life with me and to be patient since we were in a long distance relationship. But then I heard from his ex telling me to leave him alone because they were starting their lives together. Haven’t heard from him since. I feel so betrayed and at the same time mourning my best friend. I wake up with anxiety wishing I could get some closure, in shock, not understanding anything. Wondering why he’s being such a coward. I don’t wish this upon anyone.
    But you’re right, it’s going to hurt either way. I don’t want my heart to harden. Here is a quote I keep referring to,
    “You have to keep breaking your heart until it opens.” -Rumi

    1. Vanessa, I’m so sorry. I don’t know any of the details, how long you were together and so on. I hope he will treat you with enough respect to call and have a conversation, you deserve that at the very least. People who behave this way don’t respect themselves, though, and anyone who could be so careless with your heart certainly doesn’t deserve to have it for life. I know it’s incredibly painful, though. Sending you hugs and lots of love.

      1. Thank you for replying Ally! I have yet to hear from him so I’ve had my highs and deep lows these past two weeks as you can expect. Keep trying to view it from a spiritual perspective.. knowing if someone is abandoning or rejecting me that I’m most likely rejecting some part of me. This has been making me face my inner wounded child. Thank you much for the love <3 and thank you for your blog

        1. It also really lacks compassion, empathy and respect for you and the relationship between you on his part. Tough to have a longterm relationship with someone who lacks those qualities. It doesn’t make it easier to be on the receiving end when your heart is broken, but definitely food for thought as you heal. I’m so sorry you’re going through this.

  5. This article described my life right from the little girl who’s daddy left without saying goodbye right up to my recent betrayl from an Aspergers boyfriend who couldn’t feel empathy, just walked after 5 1/2 years right into another relationship he had started months before. I’m numb and deeply saddened

    1. Oh, Diane, I’m so sorry. I do coaching sessions over Skype if that’s of any interest to you. My email is ally@yogisanonymous.com. Sending you tons of love and a huge hug. Being left is hard for everyone, but very triggering when there’s a painful history there. SO sorry you’re going through this 🙁

  6. I cannot believe how spot on this article is. I needed to hear every word in it. My husband of 23 years, whom I have deeply loved for 28 years, father of our three children, has betrayed me with a relationship with a woman young enough to be his daughter. Your words about lack of communication were so helpful and coincidentally, “coward” is the word my son used to describe his father. I pray each day for strength.

  7. Many years ago, after being forced by circumstances to leave the city where I was studying and coming back to my hometown, where I knew I would be alone because the environment is difficult, I decided to have long distance partners and friends. The most painful decade of my life, left me wondering why I placed myself in such position of meeting disloyal, manipulative and dishonest people over and over again…until I realized there was a repeating pattern in all of them, both partners and friends and even myself for attracting them. It has been devastating beyond words, to the point in which I became physically very ill. I am still grieving so much this decade, but I have decided that I rather take care of myself now, stay single and not contact those people ever again even if that means to stay alone here where I live indefinitely. The city where I lived before provided such a healthy environment but I lost all my friends when I came back. I think to myself now, what lack of integrity those people I met in certain social media had, and exactly like you say, they do not seem to respect themselves at all and pretend to be what they are not all the time. My two exes who I did meet physically for a very brief period, left me without even giving me any chance and those pseudo friends saw me as a tool of entertainment while they were bored or alone but when I needed someone to talk to they were rarely available. No matter how much I was honest and tried to communicate with them, they failed to do so, it was most of the time a one way street.

    1. Rejection and betrayal really do take a toll. So painful, and it makes it hard to trust your judgment, too. I’ve been there! Nonetheless, the gem in your post is the part where you talk about repeating patterns. I think a lot of the time we keep drawing toward ourselves the lessons we need to learn, or we recreate circumstances to see if we can handle them differently. Most of the time we do that subconsciously, so we end up in another mess and that compounds the pain and reinforces the idea that “you can’t trust anybody”, when that is not true. The shift can happen when we realize what we’re doing, and in what ways we’re participating or drawing these situations into our lives.In other words, if I keep giving my heart to people who break it, what signs am I missing along the way? Why do I override my intuition, or ignore feelings that something is off? Why do I allow myself to be treated poorly? You might think about the first time you felt rejected or betrayed, see if you can pinpoint that, and then, if possible, do some work around that. Hope this helps,feel free to reach out xo

  8. Hi I was on my relationship with my wife for 34 years and she betrayed me with an friend from work, how this is possible and how I can survive this

    1. Hi Orlando,

      I am so sorry to read your message and I’m sorry you’re going through this. 34 years is a very long time to be married, and I would hate to see you walk away without really trying to communicate, and at least understand how and why this happened. I hope your wife will do that with you. There are few things that hurt more than being betrayed in this way, and I’m sure you’re heartbroken, angry, confused, and questioning your own judgment. Obviously I don’t know all the details, but I would recommend that you go talk to a therapist, both with your wife and also on your own. I want to say that these things do happen. It doesn’t make it okay, but couples do survive this if both parties want to work together toward healing. I don’t know if you’re open to that right now, and I don’t know where your wife is at, but it is possible. If you want to reach out to me directly, my email is ally@yogisanonymous.com. I hope you have a lot of love and support in your life. You will get through this. Sending you a lot of love, Ally

  9. There is something so primal about betrayal. I have told my story so many times. The story is worn out. The story is not what matters anymore after 2.5 years of grieving a 9 year, childless marriage, three cats, and a home of my own. What matters now is I’m in school again, trying to fix my life. It’s so much harder to put yourself on a better path than I ever anticipated. Some days, I’m just so tired and angry. I have kept myself out of the dating world on purpose. The idea of trying to “meet someone” is still so overwhelming. Right now, I’m struggling to put my feelings into words. How do I start over when I thought I was done? How do I find the courage to risk another person destroying everything I’ve worked so hard to rebuild? I only have so much energy to spend these days. I’m so worried that if I risk love again, all that energy will be used up until there is nothing left of me. I’m worried that my chance for my own family has passed. I’m worried about being able to take care of myself, and how much it’ll hurt to lose my parents someday without anybody to help comfort me. I know I’m a very capable person, but will I be okay 100% on my own, even when I’m old? I was so sure love #1 was the one. I thought love #2 had to be it. Do I have enough faith left for a #3? I have betrayed, and I have been betrayed, what is next?

    1. Oh, Ellen, I so get this. My kids were 1 and 4 when I went through my divorce and in the aftermath of all that I thought maybe I would just be done with relationships because I was so disappointed and heartbroken and exhausted. (And I understand what you’re saying, you didn’t have kids during your marriage and so you’re feeling like you could end up alone in the world). When the next relationship didn’t work out, I felt the way you’re describing here. I could not IMAGINE going through the process of opening up to someone new, getting to know them etc, etc. I really wouldn’t focus on that right now, you sound (understandably) like you’re still feeling very raw. Have you talked to anyone? Therapy can be so helpful if you find someone good. I’m a big believer in the therapy/yoga/journaling combo when it comes to healing, but of course what you need is personal. If you want to email me offline I’m at ally@yogisanonymous.com. I will say that eventually I DID open up to someone else and I am in the best relationship of my life. There are good, trustworthy people in the world. Try not to project too far into the future if you can help it. You really never know what’s around the corner, and if something feels right down the line, believe me, you will find the energy to try and to trust again. For right now, though, I would just try to be really good to yourself. You’re hurting and what you need is love and support and time. Let me know if I can help in any way. Sending you a big hug.

  10. After 38 years of marriage and four grown children, my husband planned and plotted and left me for a lover he had been seeing off and on for years. They had been traveling together and building a relationship as I took care of every responsibility to keep the family together and maintain stability for everyone. I was totally blind sighted, though I now realize that he always had another agenda that did not include us. I begged him to come back and bent everyone’s ear trying to make sense out of nonsense.

    After seven years and enough tears to water all the lawns in the Midwest, I have slowly come to terms with what happened to me. He was very distant, rented a townhouse and totally furnished it behind my back. I was devastated as were our kids. Thing is, he wanted to keep his image as a good guy in our circles, while totally disrespecting his family.

    After four years, I divorced him. Thing is, he is now seeking to be in my aura, taking pictures of me, showing up in my arenas, being a block to other interested parties, etc. Crazy as it is, I still love him though he is toxic for me as someone who has shown such disrespect and humiliation to our kids and me. Let alone the embarrassment and total rejection.

    I know my worth and value and now I feel sorry for him. But not sorry enough to risk that level of hurt again. I get a lot of compliments on my looks, have lost a great deal of weight and finances have improved tremendously for me.

    Karma is a bear. Though I truly do not wish it on him or anyone else. God is who He says He is. He developed prostrate cancer. Result-ED. So the trips out of town to see her have waned. She’s ten years younger so the prospect of intimacy the way they had it is not looking good.

    Though I do care, I could never love him the way I used to. That has died. Though he apologized for hurting me. But the fact that I could be so replaced is hard to stomach. I know the flaw is in him, but my faith says to forgive and allow God to do his work.

    He is lonely and masks the loss of what he did not appreciate. That woman who hung on his every word and being is gone. He was my first love and lover. He cheated himself out of a beautiful existence, the greatest respect of family, friends and community. His kids love Him because of the way they were raised, but his words have no impact and that stabs his heart.

    All for a forever honeymoon relationship, God is who He says He is. There are no winners but I can more easily live with myself.

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