It's easy to love those who love us. It's easy to love those who treat us well and would never lie to us or steal from us or betray us. It's more difficult to love those who have done us harm. Recently I had such an experience. A person with a reputation for walking away with other people's things, a person I had always defended and let into my house, walked away with something irreplaceable---a ring I'd inherited from my mother.
How do we deal with betrayal by someone we trusted? Initially, there is disbelief. I didn't want to believe it was her. I said to myself, "No, it must be here somewhere. But where?" I wouldn't have moved it without a good deal of thought about choosing a safe, special place. No, I couldn't have moved it. It had been in the only place I wanted it to be. But, I thought, she may have lost it in the house after she took it. So I searched the house thoroughly. My son searched. My sister searched. It was easy to search the house, as I keep a tidy house and don't have any clutter. Everything in the house is something I use.
Asking the person about the ring was useless; she wouldn't look at me and her responses were vague: "I was laid up sick." "I've already had a bad day." "I was out of town." None of which were true. However, she also said, "I don't know where it is." That answer had the ring of truth. She had probably lost it (if she had not given it to her grandmother; I asked the grandmother if she'd been given the gift of a ring; instead of answering "no," or better yet, "yes, but I hadn't had time to find out whose it was," she went hysterical and started naming people it must have been instead of her granddaughter, none of whom had ever been inside my house).
The bottom line is: How do we respond when something like this happens to us? After we get over the initial shock of disbelief, we feel angry. Anger is the natural emotion that arises when we have been violated. After we get over the worst of the anger, we feel hurt. This hurt feeling lasts the longest. It is as if someone had punched us right in the heart and left a bruise.
To heal from hurt, after allowing ourselves to feel it fully, we have to let it go and realize that the person who hurt us has her own destiny. We have to let go or we will hurt ourselves even more. We have to stop drinking the poison of being a victim and admit that we are not perfect in preventing all difficulties in our life. Every once in a while, something will happen that we cannot foresee or control. Then we have to learn from our experience in hopes this type of thing doesn't happen to us again.
Last, we send light to the person who wronged us. This cannot be done right away, when the pain is fresh, but sooner or later, once our reason returns, we can understand that a person who violates another is in need of light and connection. Empathy arises through a sense of connection, which in turn enables us to feel what others feel. When we can feel what others feel, we cannot harm them. We cannot steal from them or lie to them. We know that what we do to others, we also do to ourselves.
To truly heal, we must move beyond the image of the person as mean or bad and come to a point where we only want his or her healing and well-being. We desire for them to be whole, healthy, and happy, too, with a sense of connection to others, to themselves, and to all life. We send them our well wishes because we want them to feel abundant and free from whatever lack and disconnection caused them to do us harm.
Sometimes "bad" things happen to us because we play a role in helping another to grow. Our response can be a turning point in their life. I have sensed in this case that the person involved will now stop to reconsider before walking off with someone else's things in the future. I hope so; not only for the potential victim's sake, but also for her own future possibilities in life.
(A note added later: After 5 weeks of feeling as if I were in the twilight zone, with the responsible parties not taking any action, an aunt of the family had the courage and integrity to step up, make some calls, and locate the ring. Thanks to her, this would not be on the conscience of the person who took the ring and gave it away. And I could now pass on the ring to my son.)