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You're in a lot of Pain, Aren't You?

Betrayal and Robert the Bruce


My heart exploded the moment I learned about Ann's affair. I felt like pieces were in Orlando, San Diego, Portland, Oregon and Portland, Maine. I felt a surge of rage where my heart once rested. Fortunately, my heart didn't fully shatter. It felt like a jigsaw puzzle flipped haphazardly out of the box, but it was not destroyed. 

Surely no one really understood how I felt. I wasn’t very good at telling anyone about the depth of angst and pain trolling my soul. Who could I trust with this mess inside? I talked to my pastor whose first wife had left him.

He said, “Don’t you wish you’d never found out?” I didn’t even have to think about my answer. No. It hurt like hell, but if our marriage was to have any chance we had to deal with the truth of our actions.

Gratefully, my chaplain in the reserves recommended a counselor. What on earth would the counselor want to do with my shell-shocked self? After we told him the basics of our story he looked at me with kindness and said, “You’re in a lot of pain, aren’t you?”

Relief poured in. This man saw me. He saw the puzzle pieces and saw the picture of my pained soul. Though I struggled with trusting anyone at this point, I gave him my trust as best I could.

Another person who understood me was Mel Gibson.

I am deeply impacted by a scene from Braveheart involving betrayal. William Wallace, played by Mel Gibson, goes into the Battle of Falkirk believing the nobles are aligned with his band of commoners. Earlier, at a contentious meeting, Robert the Bruce, the future king of Scotland, convinced Wallace to join forces with the nobles. The Bruce chased after Wallace, offered his hand and said, "Unite us!"

Wallace clasped his hand and believed they would soon conquer the English and earn Scotland’s independence. At a key point in the battle, Wallace signals for the nobles to charge in on horseback. They slink away with their 30 pieces of silver, land and titles. King Longshanks of England bought them out.

Wallace takes a real and symbolic arrow almost straight to the heart. Like a wild-eyed and wounded animal, he grabs a horse and rides after Longshanks who long ago murdered Wallace’s father and many in his village. As Wallace approaches Longshanks, an English horseman is told to protect the king.

The horseman, face hidden by armored headgear, rides at the charging Wallace tripping Wallace's horse with his lance. The horseman dismounts and moves close to Wallace who plays dead. Wallace grabs him, knife poised to slit his throat, rips off the headgear of the screaming Englishman and discovers not an Englishman but Robert the Bruce. Betrayed! I remember losing my breath as I watched.

As an actor, Mel Gibson nails betrayal. He embodies shock and how in a moment a central foundation of one’s world is instantaneously blown up. That actually doesn't even come close to describing it. With other English approaching, Wallace lays down in the field, not caring if he lives or dies. The first time I saw this scene I instantly felt understood. They got me. After the rage subsided, I just wanted to lay down. I didn't really care what happened to me. 

Exposed, the Bruce comes to his senses. He sees other English soldiers approaching, and screams at Wallace to “Get up!” The Irishman rides in just in time, and with the Bruce's help gets Wallace on a horse and gallops to safety.

Later, the scene shifts back to the dark and foggy battlefield. Wide-eyed, shocked and stunned, the Bruce stumbles through the brutally and fatally wounded bodies of his fellow countrymen. After surveying the slaughter, he realizes their demise came from his betrayal. He falls to his knees, haunted by the carnage he created. 

Ann connects with the Bruce’s walk through the dead and wounded, his eyes glazed over. Like Bruce, she never imagined the pain her betrayal would cause me, our kids, herself and other relationships in her life. She never imagined the carnage her affair created. Fortunately for both of us, her eyes were now fully opened and focused on becoming a changed woman.

Where do you connect with the emotions of betrayal as Betrayed or Betrayer as portrayed by William Wallace and Robert the Bruce?