The presence of betrayal

Let’s go into the darkness for a bit.

There are moments of eternal night in my childhood that I carry with me to the present day. I find myself responding to life as if I were still that particular child – still three, four, five, six, seven years of age. I may not always remember the events of any particular dark moment, but I remember the feelings, and my present responses are immediate and involuntary. Experiencing life before I could distinguish my unconscious process from my conscious abilities resulted in a form of programming – a way of responding to life that might have been appropriate in its moment of origination, but does not fit the life I am living now. It is counterproductive to my desires. To fully experience my life as the adult I am now, there is only one thing to do: give it up.

Giving up the programming I received as a child feels like betrayal – betrayal of my family of origin, betrayal of the adults I was dependent upon for survival, betrayal of the child I once was. The child within squirms at the thought that the love and attention she received was not loving at all but programming. She wrestles with the fact that she was raised by people who were not at all connected with themselves, much less with her, and wonders: who betrayed who? Weren’t they supposed to love her and wasn’t everything they did for her own good? At least, that’s what she was told. Loyal to her family, giving up that programming feels like abandonment, but didn’t they go there first? Who will she be once she leaves that story behind? If they truly loved her, why didn’t they love her in a way that supported her, guided her, and nurtured her?

Parents, of course, are the prime targets on this trajectory. They programmed me to believe that their actions and attitudes proved they loved me. As a grownup, I kept wondering why I looked for and found people who treated me much like my parents did and I didn’t enjoy it any more than I had as a child. My introspective work to uncloak that secret finds the child in me realizing that her parents lied to her . . . she was not really loved but rather only used as a tool for them to vent their frustrations and act out their own programming. She was there – wanting, needing, craving to be loved, and for her, any attention was better than no attention. That child in me knew something was wrong but in order to survive, she had to make that something wrong right. My parents in her eyes HAD to be perfect, it HAD to be okay, or else she was lost.

Year after year, I’ve worked very hard to recognize and learn the difference between real love and the love I was programmed to expect. I took my lessons in parenting into my motherhood and programmed my daughters to believe I loved them based on my actions, words, and attitudes. To hold my parents accountable means to hold myself accountable. In my efforts to resolve and let go of what no longer works, I fight the resistance I feel to the betrayal of myself as a parent. Fighting resistance . . . my dichotomous life continues.

Here in the darkness, I am seeking a way to come to resolution with these irrefutable facts. I cannot undo what has been done.

Let’s go into the light.

Because we are ever-evolving beings – becoming more of who we truly are in each moment of experience – there are hundreds of thousands of babies, children, adolescents, young adults, and adults who collectively make up the person known as me in the present. Even if I only count the days of my existence, that number still approaches twenty thousand.

I am a blur of struggles and triumphs. That all of who I have been brought me to this present moment relatively intact is evidence of their strength, their perseverance, their wisdom, their insight, their judgment, and their love of self.

My present is a long luxurious moment of self-exploration, self-investigation, and self-discovery. Within my struggles, conflicts and lonely minutes, I am with an army of selves whose exponential experience births creative and sometimes adventurous comfort and solutions. The totality of me walks into the light to find the thoughts, the activities, and the people who give me love, acceptance, and companionship. I grant myself permission to let go of my condemnation and look upon my past as a troubled road with hidden gifts: resilience, character, wisdom, knowledge, and a spirit who cannot be stopped.

In the light, I find forgiveness.

©2012 by Barbara L. Kass

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16 Responses to “The presence of betrayal”

  1. jeffstroud Says:


    For me this needs a few read throughs. Yet first off, you do not walk this path alone, and have not walked it alone. You are a survivor of family situations, that only knew their story, and did the best they knew how. Letting go is an on going practice, I think. Loving ourselves, letting ourselves feel the lost and confusion but loving ourselves, through support systems that encourage, share their light.
    Awareness, forgiveness, sharing, letting go…

    I am Love, Jeff

    • Barbara Kass Says:

      Hi, Jeff — I think you are right about how letting go is an ongoing process. Even as I let go, I am accumulating other stuff! and then there is always the need to fill the empty space with “awareness, forgiveness and sharing.” Finding those support systems is a little tricky but I am working on it.

  2. ButterfliesGalore-Kimberly Grady Says:

    This is one of your best!!

    It also resonates with me to the CORE

    Will be pondering this ALL day…..

    Thank You

    • Barbara Kass Says:

      Hi, Kim — glad you came by! I know that this is a core issue for everyone. I think that even though it is a core issue, we can still let go of what no longer serves us well.

  3. Laurie Buchanan Says:

    “Who will she be once she leaves that story behind?”

    love, Love LOVE this question!

    Barbara, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. You serve up the BEST food for thought!

    • Barbara Kass Says:

      Hi, Laurie — the question itself begets a whole new story ready to be invented 🙂 I am the sum of all the children, adolescents, and adults I have ever been but now I have the option of creating something new with all that talent.

  4. Annet Vogels Says:

    Thank you Barbara for taking a stand in this for a few enlightened beings matter of fact-ish kind o problem but for most of us it is a challenge to even recognize the issue of doubting your mother and father’s intentions, where they should be the ones most close to you, most protective. I have learned indeed to replace the word intention here by ability, yet, id didn’t help me much. I still had to clean up what mess they made of me. If you are interested in the result please check out my website at.

  5. Barbara Kass Says:

    Hi, Annet — thank you for visiting. My hope is that I arrive at the place where I understand that my parents did the best they could. I am sure they were simply channeling the programming they received from their parents. I still think we could do better as a society in helping people become more of who we truly are. There is, unfortunately, a lot of support for the status quo because change is scary. Thanks for the link to your web site. I will pay a visit.

  6. sandiwhite Says:

    Barbara, you never fail to amaze me with your bravery, to have the courage to open those doors closed so long ago, the courage that most of us would not be able to muster to stand peering at our past. Of all the things that I have had to face in my life, the fact that my parents were not perfect, were products of their own parent’s upbringing, was almost as liberating as that first move out the door to adulthood. Sadly enough we don’t recognize our own mistakes in parenting until too much water has passed under the dam. Our parents had Spock although I know mine would have never read him. We had dozens of Parenting gurus. How many did we read and did they work? You can’t rework the past but you can deprogram yourself, it’s your story now, write it how ever you think best. You’ve been there and back, it’s all about you now.

    • Barbara Kass Says:

      Hi, Sandi — yes, I have never been too shy to attack the hard places that I struggle with. Some days, I would just like to accept the status quo and sleep in, but then that conscience in me wakes up and says “hey! we could make this life a lot better if you got off your ass!” The deprogramming is possible and I know I am so much more my true self than I have ever been. Now, I have to go explore forgiveness and see what that means to me.

  7. ntexas99 Says:

    That was a lot of information to wrap my head around. I think the part that spoke the loudest to me was this:

    “Who will she be once she leaves that story behind?”

    I think it wasn’t until I was about 48 or so that the thought caught hold in my brain that so much of my identity has been attached to the idea of being a survivor. I spent such a significant amount of time in my life struggling against my history, and struggling against my own propensity to do harm to myself, that it wasn’t until after becoming the caretaker of my mother that the thought started settling in to my brain … who am I, if I am not a survivor?

    Maybe it was simply the natural progression of life, in that my parents were older and nearing their own time of death, but the thought of eliminating the word “survivor” from my brain seemed to hold some sort of clue to how I might eventually find peace. Still, it seems no matter how far removed I am from my childhood, the one thing that still grounds me is that I can point to my ability to survive.

    Would it be a betrayal to remove that descriptor from myself? Who would I be, if I was not a survivor? This is a question that I’ve asked myself before, but no matter how I keep trying to find ways to leave the word “survivor” in the dust, it seems to follow me everywhere I go. Now, rather than rejecting it, I’m trying to figure out how to shift my focus so that it is not the loudest voice in the room. Yes, I am a survivor. But I am also …. what ???? I get stuck, and can’t seem to answer the question. Thank you for bringing up the idea again, so that I can put this question back on the table, and consider whether or not answering this question might help me find the peace that I seem to be searching for so relentlessly.

    I also loved what you said about the totality that we represent. Every facet of the person we have been throughout our many years are all still part of who we are today. All those different layers exist within one being, and have created the person we see in the mirror. Accepting each nuance is as important as letting go of the condemnation, so that we can embrace the light.

    No wonder this took you a while to write. It’s jam-packed with food for thought, and every paragraph offers a new direction. You’ve always had a way of opening me up to being able to accept new thought processes, even if that means recognizing that I am sometimes the person standing in my own way. Wanting to find a better way, and actually taking action towards making changes, are two entirely different things. From my point of view, you are on the move, always moving in the direction of an improved version of yourself. Lots of good information in this post. 🙂

  8. Barbara Kass Says:

    Hi, Nancy — we are all survivors. We tend to identify ourselves, however, based on what we survived, rather than who we became as a result. For example, I am a cancer survivor. I could wear that like the Red Badge of Courage and walk “for the cure” until my toes fall off, but the real identity of me is who I became as the result of surviving cancer. I became more of who I truly am. That is what survival has given you. What gifts did you bring to the table to survive? That’s you. Who did you find when you went searching for an answer? You found you. Each day, you find someone who loves and accepts herself so much that she is willing to get up and keep becoming. It isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always fun. Some days, it is just maintaining the status quo. The tricky part for me is letting of what is not mine, what is not me, what I took on from others. Sometimes, it takes me a long time to figure out how I am responding to life is not my response, but my mother’s or my father’s or some other person who had control over my well-being when I was younger. It was just safer to become like them.

    I get up and struggle and win myself over each and every day because I am taking me through eternity. Who do I want to be for that length of time?

    • ntexas99 Says:

      eternity? some days I still feel like I can barely handle today!


      yes, I heard what you were saying. really.

      actually, it is kind of empowering to think we can build ourselves to be the kind of person (or spirit) we would like to be for all eternity.

  9. Ann Marquette Says:

    Wow! Barbara, your story here is almost a total mirror of my life. It is not easy to let go of the programming within us. Charles Stanley spoke of “rejection” a couple weeks ago;about those words we heard as children from our parents which were forms of rejection, how others throughout our lives have made us feel rejected. And we need to remember that we have surely made someone else feel that way by our words or lack of attention. He said that we can be healed of these things if we will just remember that God loves us unconditionally, always, no matter what; and He hears us.
    I am still working on my transition and a book I am currently reading is helping “When the Heart Waits” by Sue Monk Kidd.

    • Barbara Kass Says:

      Hi, Ann — thanks for dropping by. I think my story must be very similar to hundreds of thousands of others. What is important for me is to not let it dictate how I live my life and who I become. That is what I find in the light. I know that God loves me anyway forever. I am as much a being of light as the Great Spirit. I am only hampered by this annoying human existence 🙂

      I will look up Sue Monk Kidd’s book. Take care.

      • Ann Marquette Says:

        I agree Barbara with all you say. I have been working most of my life to change my dna, my programming…and mostly to be a better person. I pray for guidance to be the person God wants me to be. I believe you will love Sue’s book. It is very encouraging and inspirational.

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