Many of us have felt the anguish of being blindsided by an act of betrayal. By definition, to be blindsided means to be attacked from an unexpected position as if from your blind side. The attack usually comes from someone we love— a friend, co-worker, or within a group of like-minded people. 

I write from personal experience—and thank goodness I have not been blindsided often. When a situation arises that is caused by mistakes or misunderstandings, the pain can be processed and worked through. Pain from blindsided actions or words are not mistakes, they are deliberate. 

Questions and bewilderment ensue:  

Why didn’t I see this coming, or did I?

Was this a repeated performance? 

Were things this way all the time? 

The trauma evoked by betrayal, originating from an individual or a set of circumstances manifests in rage, anger, disappointment, or obsessing, for starters. The desire for revenge rears its ugly head; and  seeking revenge does nothing but add a hefty price to our emotional debt. 

In most cases, we will experience a moment where the situation becomes clear. We may experience a flashback that is so powerful that we can see everything that was wrong. We simply didn’t want to believe it or see it. When we realize that the person or group we believed in was in reality toxicity in disguise, trust is broken. 

When we are blindsided in a love relationship, it may take months to process the pain. We loved that person; we believed their promises of forever. Then one day, unexpectedly, a grenade is thrown into our lives shattering  our hopes and dreams. Sometimes we are ghosted: phone calls or texts go unanswered, and we are left without closure.

Being blindsided by a trusted friend is difficult to bear. Friendship is based on mutual trust. A friend is supposed to have your back—not stab you in the back. Betrayal by a friend is akin to throwing a rock through a beautiful window. We are left with shards of glass that are impossible to reassemble. 

Politics can be a petri dish for duplicity. We are led to believe that we are on the same page. We may put in numerous volunteer hours, only to discover  that those with whom we were working turned the page and wrote us out of the rest of the story.

Many years ago, I was blindsided by a patriarch system which revolved about nepotism. I was young and naïve back then; I was shocked by the degree of deceit and corruption within the system. That it is still happening today leaves me nonplused—and this is sad. 

 When we are blindsided by any organization, be it political, religious, or secular, a different scenario is played out. The main weapon is the wielding of power. Someone seeing a limit to their power, seeks out others with more pull to further their cause.

Sometimes these power plays are done covertly; the innocent parties are aghast at the lengths the power brokers will go. When questioned, they may ghost, like a lover who has done you wrong. 

Too cowardly to meet you face to face, they use subterfuge. They proceed to mismanage and abuse their power. Here’s the rub:  They now have the power to choose fair or unfair and too many times they choose unfair.

The devastation of being blindsided creates new pathways in our brain where trust is a hard commodity to come by. We are amazed that the person or persons we loved or was on good terms with is now an enemy.

It takes a lot of courage to not feel resentment. We loved that person, worked hard for that group, and gave our all for a cause. Until we accept that we won’t get the answers or closure we think we need to heal—heal anyway. 

 As I see it, one is not mature until one knows how to communicate transparently and  not through subterfuge. We need to learn how to apologize, be truthful and accept accountability without blaming someone else or claiming ignorance  about what transpired. 

Although betrayals come in different guises, they are the big bombs in our lives. It is a loss of something or of  someone  we believed was the real deal. Most times betrayals are the collateral damage in some someone’s else’s inner war against themselves. When we see it this way, we can feel sorry for these individuals. However, it would be wise to take cover and step out of the way of further shelling.

“Et tu, Brute” (“You too, Brutus”) is a famous quote from Shakespeare’s play, Julius Caesar. It was uttered by Julius Caesar when a gang of murderers  including Brutus gang up and stab him to death. Brutus was Caesar’s friend.

The sad thing about being blindsided by betrayal is that  it usually does not come from a known enemy. It comes from a person who became real to you behind your back. 

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Celia Iannelli is a native New Yorker enjoying a second career — in 'retirement' — as a freelance writer. She lives in Jamesport.