• Debra Faith Warshaw

Love, Betrayal and What it all Means about Us

When I was in my twenties, I fell madly and deeply in love with a man I had met in college.

He was an exchange student and so upon graduation it was only natural that I would feel the need to follow him back to his country to keep the relationship going. It didn’t matter to me that he would be all I would have over there, that I didn’t speak the language, had no job prospects, no friends or family there and absolutely no money in my pocket. I was in love, I was in my twenties; I went.

This began a journey into the depths of the most co-dependent relationship I have ever known. I needed him for everything, he was my world, and I was so blinded by youthful bliss and misguided passion that I placed him on a pedestal the likes of which are usually reserved for nobility and prophets.

Eventually — after a series of unfortunate events — we decided to head back to NYC. Things were not great between us (what a surprise), but we thought the mandatory move might be helpful so, off we went.

We started to socialize with my circle of friends and adapt to our new circumstances but little by little we were drifting apart.

One day, he announced to me that he was moving in with my best friend Maggie. I was devastated. How could he do this to us? How could he leave me? I begged him to stay.

Funny now, but at the time my focus was only on his leaving me. I convinced myself that she was just being a supportive friend (to us both) by letting him have a place to stay while we worked through our issues. Ah, the wonderment of youthful ignorance.

A few days later he was out of the apartment. I never heard from him — or her — again.

A couple of years later I was at a nightclub and ran into a guy who was still friends with Maggie. He assumed I knew everything and therefore thought nothing of saying to me: “Pretty wild stuff about Maggie and Peter.” I must have turned sheet white as this complex set of unresolved, barely examined emotions came bubbling to the surface. ”What?” I asked. ”Oh, I mean about their baby and stuff” he said. My heart was now somewhere in my boots.

Apparently they had gotten pregnant not long after our breakup, got married and moved back to The Netherlands to start their family life.


He had never wanted to get married, let alone have kids, when he was with me!

It took a shit-long time for me to process this. It was confounding on so many levels.

For many years it would surface in my dreams; nightmares of them making love, laughing about me behind my back and feeling no remorse, playing with their children and having a wonderful life.

It took a lot of self-examination in my life to realize what now seems so obvious; none of their choices had anything to do with me.

I spent years feeling “less than” as a person and as a woman because of this experience — not consciously, mind you — but the feelings were there. I pushed down the pain of hurt, rejection and betrayal in order to keep going with new lovers, but always somewhere, buried within, was this nagging feeling that they too would leave.

So often, our default thinking pattern is to believe that the behavior of others means something about us?

This is a narcissistic tendency which our shadow ego loves to cultivate and nurture.

It's a sort of backwards form of self preservation — a protective measure we engage in when we perceive ourselves to be threatened in some way. It keeps us trapped in our head, away from our heart, and usually does not provide an accurate assessment of the situation.

My personal growth journey has taught me what an incredibly common set of emotions and feelings these are. Feelings of inadequacy (the "I'm not good enough" demons) are so prevalent in our society and are often the root of the most sabotaging conditions we place upon our lovers right at the start of a relationship.

We desperately want proof that they need us, that they will love us and never leave. Some of us need more proof than others. We test and test and test until we break their free will. No one wins this codependent game.

I have come to embody the truth — that all of this is truly meaningless in the end.

My feelings about myself, how I treat myself, my level of self-respect and worth — must come first. What others do, say or think of me is — as they say — none of my damn business.

I love me, and if you wish to come along for the ride, great. If not, hop off the bus, there are many other passengers to ride it with me. This is not bitterness, this is simply a truthful distillation of my older, wiser self.

Love really is this simple. It starts within and expands out. We do not need to do anything at all to make others love us. We are already love and like a piece of fine art, we will be appreciated by some and not by others and this has simply got to be okay.

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