Betrayed in the Fourth Grade

Wednesday, February 3, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

(Photo: hayitstayler)

It was a begrudging incident the day we voted for fourth grade class officers I remember it well…

The year was 1984; incumbent President Ronald Reagan and former Vice President Walter Mondale were vying for our nation’s top spot. As a practice in politics my fourth grade teacher opened the door for us to campaign as class officers. My chosen position – Class Secretary. My opponent – a cute, kind hearted girl I had befriended since pre-school. We campaigned through the classroom working to secure the votes of our classmates. Election Day arrived and each member of the class cast their votes for President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer. Once the ballots were tallied the officers were announced, but wait there was a tie. As it turns out the votes were split 50/50 for the position of Class Secretary. With neither candidate willing to concede the teacher called for a revote. Prior to casting the second round of ballots my opponent the sweet, kind, girl I had known for the majority of my life, who I sat next to in class, leaned over to me and offered an olive branch, “If you vote for me, I will vote for you.” Wow, such a kind offer, a show of support for true friendship by supporting one another, no matter which of us wins we’d know this election, would not come between us.

The second round of voting commenced, the teacher counted the ballots and this time there was a clear winner. The announcement was made, “The winner, by the change of a single vote is…,” we’ll just say, it wasn’t me. Disappointed by the loss, I vowed to go on supporting my friend who I had shared a keen friendship with for so many years. But wait, this just in! Word had spread through the classroom newswire, the vote that tipped the scales in her advantage, was….her own! My long time friend had broken our pact, tricked me and voted for herself. My feeling was that of devastation. How could someone do such a thing? How could my life long friend deceive me? The anguish of this event hit me hard, it was this day I learned an early lesson in life. The lesson of BETRAYAL!

Betrayal can strike us hard, obviously – for me to refer back to this incident from more than 25 years ago. It is a life lesson most of us learn at some point along our path, but not one we easily forget.

Once trust is broken, can it ever be repaired? Sure, but it is not going to happen overnight and it is not going to come easily. Trust can take years to rebuild it is something you have to believe in and work hard at.

What is betrayal?

Betrayal is the breaking or violation of a presumptive social contract, trust, or confidence that produces moral and psychological conflict within a relationship.

Resolving Betrayal
The first question should be, “Do both parties want to repair the relationship?” If not, then you cannot force it on them, it is best to move on. Hopefully with time, forgiveness will come.

If both parties are in agreement and would like to move forward rebuilding the relationship then it needs to begin with courageous integrity on behalf of the offender. The guilty party needs to:

  • Admit fault.
  • State their mistake.
  • View the breach of trust from the victim’s perspective.
  • Listen to the offended party allowing them to speak without interruption.
  • Reflect their feelings, avoiding the temptation to explain your actions. This can have a negative affect leading to a feeling of your insincerity by the injured party.
  • Accept responsibility for the violation.

Rebuilding Trust
Can trust be rebuilt? Most likely, with time the wounds will heal. Although steps will have to be taken to rebuild the trust once shared by all parties.

  • Set up an agreement going forward stating boundaries for all parties involved.
  • Determine methods continuing the relationship without overstepping the bounds.
  • Allow time for memory of the incident of to dissipate.
  • Make amends.

Aftermath
Even when forgiveness has been granted and reparations have been made, relationships do not always return to normal after violations of trust. The violator often has lingering feelings of guilt, embarrassment and self-consciousness when around the victim. It may take time for the victim’s emotions to wane as well. Full forgiveness may take weeks, months or even years, but if everyone involved is committed to the relationship time will help to heal those wounds.

So, do I resent my fourth grade friend for something that happened so many years ago? No, let’s face it, we were nine years old at the time, I have long forgiven her; in fact she represents to me, someone who alerted me to the stratagem we can experience in life. She taught me early on, trust is a sacred contract between people and once broken, it is not easily repaired. People learn from many of life’s lessons, but few have such a great impact on us as those of trust and betrayal.

Do you have any stories of betrayal? Feel free share, I’d love to hear them.

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  1. Monday, November 8, 2010 at 8:51 AM

    Sorry for the delayed response. Good point on the two votes! Smart daughter you have there, you better make sure you have your facts staright before second guessing her. Thanks for the comment.

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