Dave Worthen

3 years ago · 9 min. reading time · ~10 ·

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Betrayal: Why it Cuts So Deep

Betrayal: Why it Cuts So Deep


Ever wonder how a word comes into existence with a certain amount of impact behind it?

You know, like this word:



When you read it it’s not really a fun word.

I mean it’s different when you read these two words:

Snow Cone.


You might think this a silly comparison.  But, really, words themselves as words don’t do anything.

They don’t say anything.

They don’t do back flips or sulk or give you the finger.

But, boy, when you read the word betrayal, it’s as if someone injected you with a lethal dose of phenobarbital.

And this word betrayal will hit everyone differently.

But it will hit you.

How come?

Why is it so visceral?

You know. Why does this word betrayal have so much force behind it?

“Well, haven’t you ever been betrayed?” you may ask.

Well yes. But interestingly enough, the word itself didn’t really show up until about the 13th Century.

So...what the hell was happening then?

All kinds of shit.

Like this is when Genghis Khan was hanging out.


Yes….that makes more sense. Genghis Khan and betrayal kind of go together, yes?

Not Genghis Khan and Snow Cones, right?

Back to betrayal...

The word be ~ tray breaks into two words.

Be = to make, cause.

And you know where “tray” comes from?

No, not your High School cafeteria.

Enter my friends Merriam-Webster:

“Betray shares its root with treason and tradition. The tray in betray comes from a Latin verb meaning “to hand over.”


Hand over?

You mean the stuff I’m not supposed to hand over?!

Like the secrets I was sworn to not say?

The ammunition we have hidden?

The King we’re holding for ransom?

That kind of “hand over?”


“No can do,” you say with confidence.

And with the same amount of confidence and evil intent they proceed to cut off your fingers one by one until you are screaming bloody murder for them to stop.

Is that visceral enough?

Listen: Betrayal has some deep, deep DNA strands if you will.

Memories of which you possibly do not have full recall.  But, in some unexplained way, you feel “betrayal of trust” is an issue with much deeper roots than the circumstance that stands in front of you.

Like approaching an ancient Indian burial ground, something deep inside your soul silently tells you:

Do not walk across this sacred site.

There is probably no deeper artery that makes up the infinite network of who you are, than the main artery called trust.

And since trust is an action of you extending an open door from your own soul to another, when that trust is betrayed, then every single ghost from that burial site wakes up.

And at that precise moment the arrows of betrayal are nocked and their bows are drawn with vengeance.

Your gates of trust come crashing down with resounding thunder.

Your adrenaline goes on red alert like some high-tech security system. It shuts down every single door and hallway inside your soul.

All of the ghosts who have felt their throats slit in the middle of the night morph into a single soul.

And you have become the single archer.

The betrayer of trust is seemingly silent in a futuristic electronic room amongst the millions of rooms that make up the very core of your soul.

You eye with super peripheral sensitivity every computer screen in your personal NASA network for any sign of movement.

Betrayal after trust is so deeply rooted inside you, it’s as if you gave your best friend the password to your soul and behind your back they used it to sell heroin to children.

Did I say visceral?

Upon the discovery of betrayal, the actual shock of it is so unbelievable that although the betrayal has in fact occurred, your mind’s first attempt is to disbelieve it.

And in that moment of disbelief, there is a suspension of your entire analytical abilities and the world of understanding as you know it.

There is in fact no understanding in that moment.

There is only disbelief.

“How could you do this?!” plays as a silent refrain your mind.

Dis, is a Latin prefix meaning to remove.  

Belief has its early roots in 13th Century meaning the “trust of God.”

You have in essence removed your own belief or trust in the person whose trust you had complete faith in.

You have removed your own elan vital or Life force to this person.

Because to believe or trust in another is the act of giving Life itself.

The end result is not just the betrayal of trust.

It is the covert theft of trust itself.

It is not some locket or priceless family heirloom.

It is the theft of the very life force which makes up who you are.

And in that suspension of time where you’re grappling with the fact that your trust has been betrayed, you are at the same time holding on for dear life with every ounce of faith, hope, and trust that what you have just experienced has not actually occurred.

When in actual fact it has.

But as the shock wears off and the reality of the overwhelming stomach punch of betrayal hits, it’s only the numbness that has pervaded your entire body, mind, and soul that buffers you from the utter unbelievability of what has occurred.  

You stand blinkless and you are reeling.

But understand this:

The betrayal of one incident is not near enough force or impact to make you reel.


Betrayal is a sudden and shocking feeling that your Spidey sense tells you is not measured in years, but eons.

And for the life of you, you can’t explain its depth.

It’s so disturbing to you that, as you reel, errant mental images float up from what eerily appears to be the 16th Century. As you stand there blinkless, your mouth is so dry you cannot swallow. The next image floating across your consciousness is your “friend” driving a dagger into your fifth vertebra while holding up a medieval gold goblet toasting you at your wedding.

Why this exact image floats into your consciousness you have no idea.

But, with this very real mental image and sensation of your “friend” pushing his dagger in and severing a nerve along your spinal cord, you realize with terrifying certainty that the real pain is not the dagger.

It is the horrific experience of betrayal itself.


You don’t just feel rage, but outrage.

And in the milliseconds you are processing that your trust has actually been betrayed, you are somehow holding back with enormous mental strength and resolve your immediate dilemma:

How to act civilized in the very grip of something so uncivilized.

As you hold on to some tiny part of your sense of self and personal integrity you whisper silently to yourself:

This cannot be.

Why Betrayal Cuts So Deep:

While you read this you will most likely have had some reaction to past memories real or imagined regarding betrayal after trust.

But I want to give you the flip side of this saga.

The side many historians, philosophers, and psychologists completely miss.

And that is the causation of the moment of breaking one’s trust itself.

All of what you read above and in the story books and movies you’ve watched have no doubt left indelible pictures of betrayal.

Most everyone has watched a TV show or movie and witnessed the deceptive acts and treachery of betrayal.

And yet it is only in the soul of the causation of betrayal that you find the actual source for the visceral reaction you and I have to such terrible deeds.

See, you do not have to touch the flame to know the feeling of being burned.  

When the sword or dagger gets inserted into the character’s spine and yet your own insides recoil, you do not have to have the actual sword ripping through your own layers of skin.

Because you and I have inserted that very dagger or sword.

Now, I understand it may take a leap of faith or a momentary suspension of your own belief system to digest the above.

Or you might just think my brain cells are actually made of Fruit Loops and I’ve tapped into one too many Loops.  

To be completely transparent, The Loops and I parted ways several years ago, but I wouldn’t put it past them to sneak back into my life.

But I digress...

Whether you’ve ever held a dagger or sword is irrelevant.

What is relevant is that, as you’ve been reading this, you have absolutely no doubt about the visceral experience of betrayal.

When you found out your husband had lied and was in fact cheating on you, it might as well have been a dagger to your heart, yes?

When your business partner covertly embezzled millions from your “partnership,” the idea of going all Game of Thrones on his ass probably fleeted across your mind for a moment, right?

Of course.

Betrayal of one’s word is a sword that cuts deeper than any blade.

One can recover from a physical wound.

Not so much the wound inflicted on the very heart and soul of a sentient being.

The discomfort you may feel, from your own memories or impressions while reading these words, is a distant reminder that we, ourselves, have in some manner betrayed the trust of another.

It is only when one does the deed and denies it, does one begin to lose the very integrity of his soul.

It then becomes far, far too easy for us to point the finger at the one holding the blade.

After all you are bleeding, right?

Your husband was in fact lying and Megan was much more than his secretary, yes?


Richard stole your millions.

If your disbelief enters here it is understandable.

Nevertheless, there is nothing you can experience unless you have caused or participated in the causation of said experience.

The absolute incredulousness of this is its own defense.

But the truth is: betrayal after trust is familiar to us.

Disturbingly familiar.

Because we have ourselves failed to keep our word or uphold that very trust with another.

The experience of betrayal is so unpalatable that instead of confronting how the hell did we get into a position of having our trust betrayed, we often hold another in contempt.

It is a self-posed hell, really.

There are those who walk on this Earth that cannot be trusted. That is evident in who you choose to babysit your young daughter or whether you walk alone at night in Central Park.

But, despite Copernicus pointing out that the Sun does not move and the Earth revolves around it, we want to believe that the sun rises and sets.

We want to believe what was done to us had no connection to us.

We want to believe the sun rises and the sun sets.

It is not true no matter what you believe.

When you begin to understand that the visceral response from betrayal comes from your own hallways and the footprints left by your own trespassing soul, you begin to walk out of a darkness that is self-imposed.

It is a personal and humbling Renaissance of its own.

Its source is in the acts of irresponsibility that began with each of us.

And when you can get your entire immortal soul’s arms wrapped around that and embrace that fully, you will have begun the road back to understanding that extending trust to your fellow man is an act of revolutionary courage.

This is in truth what echoes in the rooms and hallways of your soul.

Each of us has been the betrayer of trust.

And you do not need to believe or understand how deep-seated your actual memories of betrayal are as an immortal spiritual being, anymore than it is necessary for you to believe or understand the invisibility of gravity that holds your body to Earth.

Both are unseen forces but both have a definite effect on your life and livingness.

Trust: Why it Matters

From Old Norse traust, from traustr ‘strong, true, faithful.’

If our arteries were encrypted, these would be the passwords.

Strong. True. Faithful.

By the way, an eerie fun fact is that the earliest first use of the word trust was also the 13th Century.

“Honey, is that Genghis Khan knocking on our door? Can you tell him we gave at the office?”

If trust is the main artery, then it’s pumping blood right into the very heart of what is true.

After the heart, there is nothing else.

It is why, metaphorically, one can feel that another has broken their heart.

It is why people say they love another with all of their heart.

In truth we are saying that I love you with what is the most truest part of who I am.

I love you from the very essence of me.

And when you are right down on top of the very essence of truth, if that trust or truth is broken, you have broken what makes us who we are.

Giving your word. Loving another. Being faithful. These are concepts and ideals that we all live for.

There really is nothing above these things.

So when this is betrayed, we actually feel like we’re lost.

Rightfully so.

If you put your entire trust and faith in another and later found out they were not faithful or trustworthy, you are not only disoriented in terms of your friend, you become disoriented about trusting at all.

You will introvert slightly because you thought the trusting of another was like that day on the playground in Grade school with Billy. He asked for your peanut butter and jelly sandwich in exchange for his homemade cookies.


You freely gave Billy your peanut butter and jelly sandwich. But when he laughed at you like you were a fool and ran off without giving you his cookies, something didn’t sit right with your seven-year-old soul that day.

If there ever was a beginning to the feeling of “a disturbance in the Force,” it floated up in that moment on that playground.

And each moment from that point forward where you found yourself trusting another, you were always hoping the outcome would be what innately you know it should be.

When it was, it confirmed your basic belief in your fellow man.

When it wasn’t, it steeled you against your fellow man. You started to become acutely aware you were becoming disenfranchised from your fellow man, which itself was incredibly disturbing.

So when you say “trust me” or extend your trust to another, it’s not something to take lightly.

When you give your trust to another you’re actually putting back more faith and truth into the very fabric of life. 

The fact of the matter is, the world needs more faith, truth, trust, and the strength that trust forges with your fellow man, not less. The echoes of betrayal in the hallways of mankind will fade and disappear depending on you and I, and our ability to put back into the world the very trust that makes life safe and enjoyable to live openly with one another.

So, go out in the world and be trust.

Others will stop scrolling and take note.

Keep the faith young Skywalker.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I hear a mob of Fruit Loops causing a ruckus from my pantry...

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Dave Worthen

3 years ago #2

Hi Harvey Lloyd! Wow! What a great story and contribution here! Thank you!

Harvey Lloyd

3 years ago #1

Some great thoughts and thought i would add a personal story from a friend. It was 5:30 AM and my phone rang, a highschool buddy. He was off. He said his wife just woke him up and said she didn't want to be married to him anymore, its over. She walked out. This was surreal enough as i had attended school with both of them. But it was the next few things that really brought the definition of betrayal home for me. We were saving for a house at the beach and a few years from retiring their. We had picked out the location style and the children were excited about having a place to come and have family reunions. We had even started to attend a little church there when we vacationed. His closing remark before saying goodbye, Harvey, it's all gone. Betrayal has a component where what we thought was the future is now up in smoke and a huge blank spot exists. Our psyche doesn't like blank spots.

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