Sometimes you have to shatter into a million pieces, falling to your knees, feeling like all you knew falls crashing at your feet or is stripped away.
You don’t recognize anything familiar.
You feel that you are all alone and wonder how will I survive this?
You may feel overwhelmed and spinning out of control.
You may feel like you are grieving, for the loss of the dreams, the connections, the old ways, the familiar.
You literally feel like a part of you is dying deep down inside.
But what I do know is that is the very moment where the light comes streaming in.
The moment your knees fall to the floor, within the shattered space of your soul or when your chest is cracked wide open to access your heart space, to help you get through.
It’s in the shattering and letting go where we feel like we die inside because we are forced to change or evolve.
This is where we shed false truths, where our moral compass is activated.
Where destiny or fate appears to change your path.
Our inner strength and wisdom awaits to be discovered.
Where we finally let go of what was breaking or diminishing us.
Where we start the long spiralling journey within.
Then the Phoenix rises from the ashes, reborn as a stronger, wiser, empowered, enlightened soul, with the ability & determination to rebuild yourself and your world.
—Excerpt from Phoenix Rising from the Ashes
Important Note: this is an exceedingly raw post that exposes the vulnerabilities of my authentic, pain-riddled humanity. No denial, no editing, just my bloody, oozing truth in this moment; a moment that I know will eventually prove to be one of my greatest opportunities for healing and self acceptance.
I wasn’t going to write about my personal situation. I swear. But so many of you have reached out after my recent conversation with Sam Mitchell that you’ve provoked something within that demands expression. This expression is two-fold:
- Purging a poison that needs to be released.
- Empowering discoveries in the face of personal and global collapse.
Yes folks, it’s true. My personal relationship, a love story of two “soulmates” once committed to each other “for life”, has ended. Two decades of my life have since been relegated to the archives of history at a time when the collapse of global civilization has also become a reality. From the personal to the global, collapse abounds in my reality. My “life-partnership” has collapsed. Who I once knew myself to be within the confines of a relationship has collapsed. My battered ego is collapsing. Industrial civilization is collapsing. Business-as-usual is collapsing. And of course, the habitability of the planet remains in an ongoing state of collapse. These are truly unprecedented times.
I’ve always been a highly sensitive empath with the tendency toward passionate, strong emotions. While this combination of sensitivity and emotional ferocity has given me a drive that has served me well in life, it also leaves me exposed. Secrets, silence, betrayal, and chameleon-like behaviour have never been my style. I’ve always chosen to live out loud, willingly wearing my heart on my sleeve. Raw, open, honest, and vulnerable. A blessing and a curse, especially in partnership with someone who was often the opposite. This painful reveal is my way of exorcising the torment of secrets, lies and betrayal that have hurt my heart. It’s also a forum for sharing the resilience and wisdom that is emerging throughout it all.
A Rude Awakening
So many others were privy to the “conversation of the ax” long before I ever was. When the painful deed was finally done, no explanation was ever given. It simply was over. In that moment, my partner privileges for integrity, honesty and respect had been revoked. The cavalier cruelty in which “the end” was heartlessly executed still feels surreal. Like two decades of my life were invested in a disorienting dream that held meaning only for me. Needless to say, haunting thoughts of secrets, lies and betrayal have poisoned my Soul. It is this mental/emotional toxicity that is currently my greatest challenge to healing. I trust that it will eventually pass with the magical healing salve of space and time. For now, however, I ache.
Not knowing why has hurt my heart and my head. I do know that she couldn’t move west fast enough to be with her American “best friend”. The daily emails, texts, FaceTime, and Zoom calls were very real. Her tears of anguish at the geographical distance between them were very real. Her manic obsession with constant contact was very real. It was all so bizarre. What 50 year-old needs a “best friend” anyway? Whatever the true nature of that fanatical relationship was in the beginning, it trumped ours in the end. That was one of the few things she made perfectly clear.
The truth is that it was over between us last fall when the two women were participants in intensive personal development experiences that brought them that much closer. I’m still sickened by the thought that I allowed it all to unfold before my eyes. On request from the ex, I welcomed “best friend” into my home. I bent over backwards to accommodate their quest for self discovery. I cooked for them. I held space for them. I supported them.
I trusted them. I fucking trusted them. There is nothing more sacred than trust. There is nothing more devastating than breached trust.
The same personal evolution collective that I recently released myself from to live a more fully expressed life have since become her new advisers, influencers and lovers. She became entranced, seduced by their promise of a magical life of infinite creation. She walks this very same path with her new “best friend”. Like moths to a flame, they have “found the light”, believing it to be the ultimate journey of self-empowerment, illumination, wisdom, and insight. In truth, this path has made them both blind, cold and heartless. It’s a journey of self-delusion. Together they now stand, blissfully indifferent to the wreckage of pain and destruction they have chosen to cause. They abandoned decades-long, imperfect, yet meaningful relationships while silently disappearing from the lives of their loving ex-partners. We are both now left behind to pick up their shrapnel.
They are both so desperately lost. Yet in finding the body of work they are so possessed by, and in finding each other through it, they believe themselves to be so profoundly found. There is one problem with it all, however. If one is not already strong enough in mind to be discerning with what they have chosen to follow, one only gets lost in it, blinded by the hubris of perceived self-superiority. So be it. I’m no match for the power of enmeshment, nor do I have any interest in fighting against it anyway. We all have our own paths and I know that mine is one of autonomy, discernment, boundaries, and strength of body, mind and spirit.
Several people who have noticed her shift in behaviour have since reached out to me asking, “What’s up with her these days? Does she belong to some sort of cult?” Trust me, I’m as clueless about the bizarre shift in persona as everyone else. The thing is, almost anything—including sports team allegiance—can become cult-like if you swallow it whole and lose all sense of discernment, skepticism and self. She’s always been easily influenced, and allegiance comes easily with the egoic rocket fuel provided by the collective she’s now so committed to. “Best friend” worships the hallowed ground she now walks on, and she’s become the golden child of the founder of the work she’s so faithful to. Scattering rose petals of praise in each others’ direction, they sustain the insulated nature of their incestuous community. I’m sure this all must feel amazing to the ex because she never got that kind of attention from me. I’ve always preferred humility and groundedness instead. There is little worse than co-habitating with a deluded, hedonistic, inflated ego. One thing is for certain (and I share this from personal experience), her tribe is gleeful at her willingness to “follow her internal cues” and carry forth their legacy. They’ve got her hooked, and they’ve got her good.
For obvious reasons, I’ve since been shut out, relegated to being the renegade who “lost her way”. The fallen angel. The freethinking dissenter who they “hope” will one day “find trust in herself again.” Ah, the sheer arrogance of it all. What they will never comprehend is that I trust myself more now than I ever have. In liberating myself from their clutches, I’ve discovered greater autonomy, resourcefulness, a deeper connection to myself and others, greater tolerance and humility, and an empowering inner resilience that defies words. Perfectly timed for the dystopian times we are now living in.
While all of this was unfolding, things had also been radically changing for both of us. Diverging paths of letting go (on my end) and enmeshment (on hers). The gap was becoming too great to bridge yet I was still willing to explore a different paradigm of being together. For a few weeks it was magnificent. That is, until then she left for Hawaii to become “enlightened” with a fateful detour to the Pacific Northwest to be closer to her obsessive “best friend.” I knew then that the odds were slim that “we” would survive.
When she returned from her hedonistic Hawaiian/Pacific Northwest rendezvous, she was different. She shared with me that she had developed a deeper “spiritual connection” with “best friend” and that they had transcended into another plane of being (new age code for, “you’re out, she’s in.”) She was willing only to express herself in the “expansive space of the void” from now on…whatever the fuck that meant. When she revoked the best friend status that we had for two decades, actually believing that she was doing me a favour, she took everything away. Without friendship there is nothing. I knew then that it was over.
It was clear there was no longer room in her life for an earthly, grounded, passionate, and openly raw human being like myself anymore. She had allowed her mind to be hijacked by new age fantasies of “enlightened manifestation”. I kid you not. Her hubristic belief in her self-proclaimed magical powers was creepy. She had given herself over to “best friend” and the personal evolution tribe they both shared, and I was soon to be no more.
She had surrounded herself with the influence to leave. “Perhaps you’ve outgrown Deb and it’s time to move on,” were the heartless words imposed on her by the relationship-loathing, multiple divorced founder of this evolutionary movement. She couldn’t stay out of what was clearly not her business, or at the very least offer something more respectful and compassionate such as, “Perhaps you’ve outgrown the way the relationship has been and it’s time to discover something different”, which is certainly the way I saw it and why I was invested in exploring a new paradigm of togetherness. She chose instead to infect the ex’s mind with something much more personal. In a mind so easily swayed, and in a mind so blinded by her allegiance to this influential woman, I didn’t stand a chance. Betrayal was everywhere.
New Age Brainwashing
While I’m blessed to have an incredible support system of dear friends and family in my life, I now stand alone, slowly moving forward while desperately trying not to look in the rearview mirror at the still smoking wreckage they left behind. The sick reality is that their relationship blossomed before my eyes while she seamlessly moved from one to the other. It was no different than the pattern that played out when we first met, only back then I had no clue until she declared to me one day that it was over for the predecessor she still had hidden in the shadows. Old patterns die hard, even after a 20-year hiatus.
I guess her 20-year anniversary gift to herself was to give her life over to someone else. She has since moved in with her affluent American lover, freeloading her way to full-time evangelism for the body of work that has altered the very fabric of her mind. It all seems like such a strange dream. Who she once was is dead to me now, a ghost in my wellspring of life memories. Who she has since become is a physical doppleganger of who I once knew. Beyond that, she has become a complete stranger. She may believe herself to be “more authentic” in her new worldly ways, but authenticity does not beget the absence of compassion, kindness, respect, honesty, and integrity toward another. Especially toward someone with whom she had shared so much of her life. Certainly not the way I see it anyway. I guess I’m naive in my capacity for trust. Not anymore, however. She broke every ounce of trust, and my trust muscle has been forever altered.
Our life together was all so real for me…until it wasn’t anymore. And now it’s all so surreal. For two decades I gave all of myself to her: my essence, my vulnerability and my deepest trust. I felt safe in her presence. Nobody knew me like she did. I trusted her with my life. She violated all of that…and so much more. I lived a lie with a liar. The grief is profound and it’s so complex. Unlike the “clean” grief of death (which I know well), this is a grief like I’ve never before known. It is the grief of losing someone so completely to the influence of others. Grief from being cheated on. Grief from being lied to. Grief from being gaslit. Grief from being profoundly betrayed. And not just by her, by all those she surrounded herself with. It’s overwhelming in how inconceivable it all is. Like a bad soap opera that I’m a main character in which I can’t seem to extract myself from.
She is forever gone. At this point, I would have it no other way. Because everything I shared with her was first filtered though the minds of “best friend” and her tribe in the last few months, I will never again trust her. There was also no way of penetrating a wall of delusion reinforced by so many others who she had pledged allegiance to. If there is any love remaining anywhere inside of me, I can no longer access it. Tragically, her final act cancelled out everything that preceded it. She will never be anything more than a lying, cheating, emotionally immature, self-deluded coward to me.
For now, I only feel revulsion. I trust that this will eventually soften over time. It’s just not in my nature to harbour such toxicity for any length of time. I do trust the process, however: The highs, the lows, the peace, the pain, and everything in between. After all, I am in the midst of a shocking and painful process of loss in tandem with global breakdown. As such, I’m choosing to go a little easier on myself this time around. One thing is for certain: the “No Contact rule” is permanent for me. Over means over. I take this split seriously and quite frankly, I’ve never had any interest in friendships with ex-lovers anyway. Betrayal is not exactly solid ground for any sort of future friendship either. A complete split is the only way to fully get on with my life and emotionally exorcise the pain of looking back at redundant memories. As the old saying goes, “Don’t waste your time looking backward, you’re not going in that direction.” Eventually, like all ex-lovers who preceded her, she will simply fade into nothingness.
Ironically, “best friend” was once a friend in my life as well. From one day to the next, however, she just disappeared. Ghosted in the most cowardly way. Rather than tell the truth, she chose instead to tell mutual connections that we’d had a “falling out”. A believable lie, but the truth is that she was the only one aware of a “falling out” because she was the one who fell…out. I remained a friend until she vanished with my ex, who I remained partnered with until she vanished with “best friend”. Lying, cheating cowards. Both of them.
The truth is, at this stage of my own personal evolution, the two “best friends” are more suited for each other anyway. While I’ve moved away from it all, they’ve been swallowed whole. They can now build their ethereal castle of clouds in the expansive space of the void of enlightened manifestation together. They are now shacked up together in an eclectic coastal community where hippies and spiritual by-passers abound. It couldn’t be more perfect.
With greater clarity, I can now see how sustaining our diverging relationship was ludicrous. And who the hell wants to be with someone who is so deluded by the arrogance of magical thinking anyway? I’m no fool. This “loss” is already proving to be my gain. I know that this will only continue to expand as I move forward and am no longer mesmerized by the memory ghost of my relationship-bound self.
When she left, she had become a stranger. Darkness in her vacant eyes as the loving, compassionate essence I had come to know so well vanished. In fact, it was completely and utterly inaccessible. No sign of the beautiful soul I had once fallen in love with was anywhere to be found. She was well coached to be ruthless, and she took that coaching seriously.
While no couple is perfect and we had our issues, I still feel shell-shocked with the reality that one day we could be exploring a more beautiful paradigm of being together, and the next I was tossed into a heap of unwanted garbage. The element of personal choice that determines which partner will remain loyal and work to preserve a relationship, and which—despite years of assurances and patterns of devotion—will bail in the blink of an eye, is such an unknown in a relationship. Never in a million years could I have imagined an ending like this.
I invested two decades of my life into what proved to be a cruel and brutal ending. Her ruthlessness was reinforced by her tribe of enablers making it that much more painful. She killed the relationship. She killed the love. She killed the friendship. She slaughtered the trust. Her imperious transformation showed me very clearly the thin line between love and hate. Had I known all those years ago that it would have ended like this, I would have walked away then. I know I will eventually stand in the stability of my inner core once again, I’ve just never experienced anything so painful before. Lying is torture. Cheating is agony. Betrayal is brutal. Even with all of the death I’ve experienced in my life, nothing has ever been so personal.
I’ve since discovered that betrayal is a form of trauma akin to PTSD. There is actually a term to define it called, ‘betrayal trauma’. As described in this post, “The term “betrayal trauma” refers to the damage that is caused when you experience a betrayal in your relationship that damages the trust, safety, and security of the bond you have with your partner.
You cannot experience betrayal where there is not a deep sense of safety and trust. But when there is a deep sense of safety and trust and you uncover an unknown addiction or infidelity, it can be the most debilitating moment in your life. These forms of betrayal are extremely traumatic, and you can experience devastating mental, physical, and emotional consequences.”
It all makes more sense to me. No wonder the trauma of this event is so agonizing.
The Vanishing Ghost
She just fucking vanished: physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. So many memories of who she once was still haunt me. Where she went I will never know, and that is the toxic mind trap that I must free myself from. She abandoned everything about our life together, including the house full of animal companions she claims to have loved. If that’s love, well fuck that. I now sometimes wonder, was any of it real? The way I see it, our life together was no lie. It was very real for me. But now it’s over. Forever. And I’ve since discovered the cruel and painful assault on the heart that love is. Nazareth said it best: Love Hurts. The J. Geils Band nailed it with their anthem, Love Stinks. From where I stand right now, I concur.
Her callous behaviour has left a deep wound that makes it feel like our 20 years together were meaningless and never happened. Except that they did because I feel them in the density of grief in my body, and in the ongoing processing of how much of myself I gave away during our time together. I’m now detangling my psyche from two decades of a relationship that in many ways was wonderful, and in many other ways was deeply flawed. What I couldn’t see then, I see more clearly now. The emotionally charged process toward acceptance is filled with the shadows of memories that will likely haunt me for a long time to come.
“She’s going through a mid-life crisis”, I’ve repeatedly heard since that fateful day. From everything I’ve read on this topic since then, I’ve since discovered that is indeed so. I’ve also discovered that the interchangeable terms of “friend” and “best friend” are common code language for “new lover”. My suspicions were right all along.
The mid-life crisis behaviours she exhibited were classic. Her honesty and integrity disappeared along with her capacity to care about anyone from the life she left behind—human or animal. The selfishness, entitlement, impatience, lashing out, cold indifference, and lack of compassion and empathy; it’s a vicious time of life where Jekyll becomes Hyde and never looks back.
The obsessive texts, emails, Zoom and FaceTime calls behind closed doors. The secrets and lies when I asked her up front about the nature of her increasingly intimate relationship with “best friend”. In the last few months of our relationship, our bodies were still in bed together but her emotions, mind and heart were already sexually entangled with “best friend”. I knew that then. I felt it. But she consistently denied that “anything was happening” because for her, cheating meant naked, sweaty bodies rubbing together in an act of physical sex. What she refuses to realize is the far more painful damage of emotional infidelity. Sex can be had entirely without emotion and is thus easier to move on from. Emotional infidelity wreaks havoc on the psyche and causes a much deeper wound. When the heart and emotions are involved in any external relationship, it becomes an entirely different beast.
A Chip Off the Old Block
Ironically, her father did something similar many years ago. No explanation. No communication. No contact ever again. He just left, abandoning his wife and remorselessly moving on to share his life with someone else. Maybe that other woman was his “best friend” too. He took that secret to his grave. My experience with his daughter has proven to be no different. A chip off the old block as the old adage goes. Perhaps silently disappearing into the night was their way of “taking the high road”. Evidently there is no need for kindness, compassion, integrity, or the decency of an honest explanation in the employment of that strategy.
If only I had the clarity of mind to swing the ax first, I suspect that my bloodied, wracking ego would feel better. But alas, that is not the case and I must learn to trust the wisdom and learning that will unfold as this stubborn, ailing part of me continues to let go. “It is in dying that we are born,” I am told. I do believe this to be true because it has happened repeatedly in my life. I just wish it didn’t have to hurt so much.
In the co-creation of their ruthless exit plan, I’ve since discovered that “best friends’” estranged husband also experienced the same brutal treatment. They had it all seamlessly figured out before they dropped their respective bombs. Between the two of us we’ve been able to flesh out different parts of the same confusing story. We’ve since become sweet shadenfreude, united through the searing pain of our desperately broken hearts. I couldn’t be more grateful. He’s a good man. I’m a good woman. We’ve both been duped, collateral damage from the selfish pursuit of their collaborative agenda. Together we now walk the slow path of healing and recovery.
There are so many ways to leave. Callousness is never necessary, especially from someone who claims to be so “self-evolved”. As a dear friend recently said, “what starts in chaos, ends in chaos”. Their new relationship commenced with “best friend” having a psychotic breakdown in my house, entirely provoked by the body of work they’ve since pledged allegiance to. Not sexy. In fact it was terrifying. Apparently that wasn’t the case for the ex, however. Good luck with that.
The truth is, I am better off alone and I already know that. I was alone for years before we met and I was blissfully happy. I know that will be my reality again, and this time I will be bulletproof as a result.
Several people have since asked if I think I will find love again. I believe that what they’re really asking is whether I will allow myself to be entranced by the illusion of “romantic love” once again. I doubt it. Quite frankly, the thought of that possibility makes me feel ill. Riding tandem is easy. Flying solo takes deep courage and self connection. It’s easy to run from one relationship into the arms of someone else and believe that you are changed in the process. That is the path of the coward, however. I’m no coward. I’ve also never been the type of person who needs a relationship to feel whole. The truth is, there is already no shortage of love in my life. In fact, it’s totally the opposite. In letting go of what once was of my life, and in letting go of who was once in my life, I’ve opened the door to so many amazing, beautiful, incredible, wise, compassionate, authentic, real, grounded, supportive, honest people who have always been there, quietly loving me on the periphery of my life. Not only that, I have also met so many new people who are already proving to be equally amazing. Sometimes I’m overcome by the sheer magnificence of it all. The breaking of my heart has cracked it open in ways that are allowing so much more in.
One of the many other good things to come out of this nightmare is that I’ve since awakened from the sleepwalk illusion of “soulmates”, “security” and love forever. Pain is an amazing wake-up call for clarity and for sparking the desire for yet another wave of personal transformation. Reflecting on it all has revealed to me many atrophied parts of my wholeness. Fortunately I’m leaving no time wasted in claiming the fractured pieces of myself as they continue to present. In claiming more of myself, I am already feeling a greater freedom in my life despite the density of what currently still is for me. I hold this in my vision for healing as time and space continue to work their magic.
While there is far more to this painful tale of secrets, betrayal and lies, the ultimate point of this post is not that. There have been ongoing personal discoveries of profound inner resilience that continue to emerge which are proving to be invaluable in these times of global crisis. That is my focus.
Footnote: For the many who have since reached out to me with their own stories of betrayal (it seems to be a tragic epidemic), I share this video of great wisdom from Eckhart Tolle, a man whose work I’ve respected for decades. It has given me a new perspective and has also validated my own thoughts on the degraded consciousness required to deliberately betray another.