Betrayal is one of the hardest things to get past. When someone we love and trust betrays us, it changes our perception of our life, and it changes us.

Days 454-455

I left Sydney after learning about the convict history on a walking tour and drove south. I was headed back to Melbourne and decided to take the road along the coast instead of going through the capital of Canberra. While I was in Adelaide, I met the chief of staff to the finance minister, and he told me not to bother with visiting Canberra because there was nothing there except government buildings. 

I liked the idea of driving around the whole perimeter of Australia, so I stuck to the coast. A pull-over spot had a lookout balcony of the rolling green hills, towns, and ocean in the distance. It was incredible! 

I walked inside, and there was a small café. I needed something to help keep me awake, so I ordered a coffee and pastry for takeaway. The man behind the counter asked if I was American. He was American too but had lived in Australia for many years. It was nice talking with him, and it helped to wake me up. 

During my drive, I continued listing to the book 12 Rules For Life by Jordan Peterson. There were a few fascinating parts that stood out to me. In one chapter, he said, “We don’t think. We think we think. But we’re usually self-criticizing. In order to think, we need someone to bounce ideas off of. We need to be our collaborator and objector. Most people can’t. When talking, you get a collaborator and an objector.”

I thought that was interesting because it explains why we need to actually speak things to other people. When I talked with a mystery airplane man a year earlier, he said therapy had been invaluable to him because once he heard himself say something to the therapist, he couldn’t believe it. He said, “I didn’t want to be that guy. I didn’t want to think those things.”

What made him realize he thought those things was when he said it verbally. I have experienced this myself. I’ve said things and immediately thought, “Wow, that’s not true. I didn’t mean that.” It’s how our brains are wired. 

It’s why free speech is so important – even speech you don’t like. Even hate speech. Our brains cannot process our beliefs unless we speak them to someone and get a collaborator and an objector. It’s how we grow and how we change. Banning any speech will only result in our inability to think and to change.

There was another chapter that resonated with me. Peterson talked about a betrayed wife. He said, “Her theory of herself collapses too in the aftermath of the betrayal so that it’s not one stranger that’s the problem, it’s two. Her husband is not who she perceived him to be, but neither is she, the betrayed wife. She is no longer the well-loved secure wife and valued partner. Strangely enough, despite our belief in the permanent immutability of the past, she may never have been. The past is not necessarily what it was even though it has already been.”

He continued, “The present is chaotic and indeterminate. The ground shifts continually around her feet and ours. Equally, the future, not yet here, changes into something it was not supposed to be. Is the once reasonably content wife now a defined innocent? Or a gullible fool? Should she view herself as victim or co-conspirator in a shared delusion? Her husband is what? An unsatisfied lover? A target of seduction? A psychopathic liar? The very devil himself? How could he be so cruel? How could anyone? What is this home she’s been living in? How could she be so naive? How could anyone? She looks in the mirror. Who is she? What’s going on? Are any of her relationships real? Have any of them ever been? What has happened to the future? Everything is up for grabs when the deeper realities of the world unexpectedly manifest themselves.”

As someone who was married for ten years to a liar, I felt his words deeply. It was like he described everything I went through in my marriage. When I finally started to see a therapist to help me decide what to do with my marriage during our separation, she told me that being lied to was no different than being cheated on. Both were betrayals. I had trusted my ex-husband, and over and over again, I was lied to. He never admitted his lies unless I had proof, making me always afraid there were more lies that I didn’t know about. Were there other women? I don’t know, but I always feared there were. 

My therapist also pointed out that I was struggling so much during my divorce because I was grieving. I had to grieve the life that I thought I had – the future that no longer existed. 

For a long time, I thought something was wrong with me because my divorce seemed to affect me more than many others. But then I saw a video where Peterson talked about betrayal. 

In the video of a presentation, Peterson said, “The people that I’ve seen who have been really hurt have been hurt mostly by deceit. And that’s also worth thinking about. That you get walloped by life, there’s no doubt about that. There’s absolutely no doubt about that. But I’ve thought for a long time that maybe people can handle earthquakes and cancer, and even death, maybe, but they can’t handle betrayal, and then can’t handle deception. They can’t handle having the rug pulled out from underneath them by people they love and trust. That just does them in. It makes them ill, but where it hurts, psycho-physiologically, it damages them, but more than that, it makes them cynical and bitter and vicious and resentful. And then they also start to act all that out in the world, and that makes it worse.”

Shortly before listening to the chapters, I had seen my ex-husband’s new wife’s Instagram of them traveling the world for a year. I was angry. I didn’t understand how it was fair that he could lie to me for a decade and then be able to remarry almost instantly. Then use the money I had to pay him to travel the world for a year with this new woman. How is that fair? Where was the justice?

I saw on their Instagram that they went to the same places in Europe that Aaron and I had gone to a few years earlier. It was strange seeing pictures of them in places where I had identical images with him. Once they traveled for a year, they settled back in L.A., and she got pregnant. Just before my birthday a few weeks ago, she gave birth to their son. Aaron named him the same name we picked out if we were ever to have a son. We used to say his name when talking about our future son. That son now exists, only he isn’t mine.

It was like Aaron replaced me and continued the life we had built and the future we had dreamed of. The only difference was there was a new blonde in my place. 

I was angry at the injustice. The lies Aaron told for years, pretending to go to school, lying about being drunk at a bar, etc., tore me apart. Betrayal hit me in all of the ways that Jordan Peterson described. I had loved and trusted Aaron, and it was all stripped away with each lie that I discovered. 

While I had gone through a year of therapy, cried more times than I remember, and was afraid to trust anybody again, he wasn’t affected at all. He found a replacement before the divorce was final and continued living life. It wasn’t fair. It wasn’t fair that I had to pay him tens of thousands of dollars. It wasn’t fair that he is the one who broke the trust and broke the marriage, but I was the one who felt the pain and consequences from it. 

Hearing Jordan Peterson talk about betrayal made me feel better. I wasn’t so crazy – betrayal is the thing that breaks people. It’s the hardest to move past. I didn’t want to be cynical, bitter, vicious, and resentful. 

I cried and prayed to God that he would release me from the pain and feelings of anger and betrayal. It didn’t go away that day, but each day it’s gotten better. I still ask God for help in letting go. I don’t want to carry that pain around, and I am trying to trust again. I don’t know if I’ll ever be 100% over the betrayals, but I will try with God’s help. 

After driving for four and half hours, I arrived at Bateman’s Bay R.V. park in the dark. I had booked a basic cabin that was attached to several other cabins. The bathroom was shared, and I had to walk outside to access it. I walked down the street and ordered a takeaway pizza. 

Room the next morning
Drive-up liquor store

The next day, I walked to the beach and enjoyed the breeze. I was bummed that I didn’t get a chance the day before to enjoy the beach since it was within walking distance from the R.V. park, but at least I was able to go in the morning for a bit.

I continued driving because my time was running out to get the car back to Melbourne. The drive was beautiful. Like the day before, I passed farms and bright green rolling hills. 

I pulled over at Wagonga Inlet after I crossed the bridge. I walked along the path, checking out the blue and green ocean. I did my best to soak it all in. My time in Australia was almost over, and I wanted it to slow down. 

The drive alternated between tall eucalyptus trees, hills, and farms. The green started to fade into long brown grasses. 

I made a lunch stop in Bega at a cheese factory that had a visitor center. I ate a sandwich and rested. There was a whole section with vegemite merchandise, and I couldn’t help buy some to take back to the U.S. 

I continued driving and made stops when I saw a nice lookout spot. One spot was Eden Lookout and Rotary Park. It was on top of a cliff overlooking the ocean. There was even a lighthouse in the distance. I loved watching the waves crash. 

Shortly after that stop, I passed a sign welcoming me to Victoria. I was thrilled to have officially made it back to the state that I started in but was also a little sad. The time had gone so fast. 

By the time I arrived at Lakes Entrance, it was dark outside. I checked in to my motel and heated my leftover pizza. It was time for The Bachelor finale. At least I would get to watch that before leaving the country. I had to know if the bad or the good woman won. Thankfully, the good woman won – maybe justice prevails after all?

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15 Responses

  1. A few things to keep in mind:

    Social media is all about image – it may look good but I highly doubt the man you described has changed much and more than likely he or is doing the same thing with her – men like that rarely change

    He definitely has some narcissistic traits and the baby name thing – super weird to me and I bet she had no idea

    Have you ever read chump lady? I love her site regarding men

    This article was actually the catalyst for me finally realizing the truth of my relationship
    Your significant other/relationship should be like a balloon lifting you up and supporting you not an anchor dragging and weighing you down – I think you know really you are the lucky one to be rid of him and she is the unlucky one because she is stuck with that lying unethical POS for a father and husband. Hold fast for the man you deserve and that deserves you.

    1. Thank you! You’re right – things rarely are what they seem on social media. I haven’t heard of the chump lady but thanks for the link – I’ll check it out!

  2. Betrayal is all you described. I think this blog post will help me process through my most recent bout with betrayal. I’m slow to process. My only real comfort is that Jesus was betrayed. He knows exactly how we feel.

    As I was reading about Aaron, I remembered Psalm 73. Asaph asked why the wicked prosper. But then he remembers their end. They are like the grass that withers and the flower that falls. Aaron is wicked. And I feel sorry for their son.

      1. Really? Oh no, that only means one thing: you’re no longer American. Hurry, drink some coca cola to reverse the changes!!

  3. I have enjoyed reading your blog so much Christy! I am so sorry for the deception and betrayal you experienced. There is hope and healing. Neal was married before we met to a woman that was very damaged herself and did horrible damage through betrayal, lies and manipulation to him. But Neal healed. God is good and he will make good on his promise to finish the work he started in you. Take heart friend! And if you ever want to come to central Texas we have a guest room you are more than welcome to stay in!

    1. Thank you, Kim! I appreciate your words! ❤️ I didn’t know he was married before. It gives me hope that things will get better. 🙂

      I would love to come see you guys! I might be road tripping again this year depending on travel restrictions so if I’m in Texas, I will definitely let you know!

  4. Christy, my friend, it’s been too long since I’ve read a post of yours. Your drive was beautiful. I dream of going to Australia. I’m sorry for what you went through; the betrayal. I did too. Multiple times unfortunately because I just couldn’t get “smart”. It’s taken me years, and therapy, to find “me”. I’m proud of you and for speaking the hurt that was evident in your life. Take care! Thank you for sharing.

    1. I’m sorry you went through that too. Ugh.
      It’s so hard to break those habits and make better decisions with who we allow in our lives. I’m glad you’ve found “you!” I’m getting there – slowly but surely!

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Throughout her wild 3-week journey backpacking 220+ miles in the California Sierra Mountains, Christy encountered freezing temperatures, pelting hail storms, and losing her way, but found trail family, incredible views, and experiences that would change her life forever. Hiking up and over ten different mountain passes gave Christy a lot of time to think about why her nine-year marriage was falling apart, gave her the chance to truly embody her individualism, time to make new friends, and the strength she would need on and off the trail. Her life could never again be the same.
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