Were you to follow our boy Dante way way down into the depths of Inferno, in the inner most circle of suffering for all eternity smack in the middle of it, together with Satan himself, shackled in ice you’d find the worst of sinners. Well in Dante’s rendition hell really does freeze over at the final level after all, that is when the sin of the sinner condemned to it is great enough. Guess who Dante set as residents of the realm for most horrid crimes… Yes’ exactly – traitors!
Experiencing betrayal first hand in any form is a deeply disturbing experience that can scar and legitimately traumatize people for life. The pain it brings is not the regular heart ache of being broken hearted, although there is nothing regular about it either since every expertise is completely different. This pain is also not just a byproduct of a bruised ego or a narcissistic wound. It’s a collapse, complete and utter failing of all systems, akin to chaos opening up all at once and devouring you while you plummet with nothing to grab. In the first blow you’re powerless to stop it because you’ve just been robbed of the ability to trust your own judgement as well. Personal self-flogging questions arise – “How could I have ever trusted someone who would betray me in such a way? Am I so naïve?” It’s a falling of scales from the eyes, violent opening, a complete feeling of being lost and disoriented that makes you doubt in the whole construction around which your world is created. It’s an insult to the fundament of being a human – a breach of trust. Without trust there would be no humanity, just brute force and constant conflict.
In our first conscious dawns we needed to trust others to be able to survive as a species. We needed to trust that if we go out and hunt, gather or get water that the other members of the tribe would take care of our children and protect them from everything that could harm them in a much more dangerous world. Then we developed language and culture, databases of knowledge and labor division and we had to trust each other that each one will do its part in order for the system to function. In our relationships we need to be able to trust our partners, family and friends to be able to live and thrive, to know we are emotionally safe and protected, that the advice and actions come from a benevolent place of keeping our best interested at heart. We cannot raise children with those we don’t trust, nor decide to spend our life with someone without trusting in the realness of the reality we’re creating together.
This is what betrayal does, it kills the fundament and scars in unimaginable ways on a deep primal, most human level which only wants to be connected and loved. None of us are afraid of dying, but of leaving this place before ever trusting enough to be so opened to be able to say that someone truly saw us, the real us. Betrayal is not a single act, but a destruction of a bond reverberating through the whole character and psyche of humanity, so maybe Dante got it right.