by Kleitia Vaso

Betraying is easier than not betraying. Perhaps, it is the more natural reaction. We are so eager to betray, to shift the weight of our own frustration onto others. The slightest excuse, tiniest misbehavior from another gives us the right to doubt, grow angry, sad, or disillusioned and, then, betray. Perversely, we welcome others’ slips as permission to take the easier route, transgress or stagnate, whichever course of action comes more naturally.

One morning, half-awake, anticipating the shower, my favorite and ungodly prolonged morning ritual, I went in, ready for the miraculous service which is simultaneously pleasant and useful: cleans me and prepares me for the day ahead. In the inglorious battlefield that is contemporary life, my soldierly preparations are the morning rites, beginning with the holy shower.

This explanation suffices, I believe, in explaining the weight and importance of this simple act. But to leave the sphere of thoughts and enter the realm of action, I was standing under the almost burning but satisfying hot water, slowly reentering to the active, productive world,  when, too soon, it started becoming alarmingly lukewarm. At first, I tried to deny this terrible occurrence. “Maybe,” I thought, “I’m just cold, I’m not getting warm, it cannot be the water.” Then, it grew colder and colder and there was no denying the blatant, ugly truth: somebody, before me, had sneakily finished all the hot water. Waves of hot anger started flowing to my head which, at least, warmed me, and I just wanted to get rid of this burning burden by catching and then, confronting the wrongdoer, the inconsiderate water user, water waster. “Who could have done this?” I wondered. With a quick elimination process, my mind jumping from one suspect to the next, I reached the conclusion that it could have only been my sister. She had just started a new job and, perhaps, anxious about it, lost herself in thought…at the wrong place. “Yet, it is so unlike her to neglect others entirely” I thought. But, I needed a release for my anger. I was so unhappy, I had to spread it, ration it among others.

As it turned out soon thereafter, I was wrong. Or, right rather as I knew deep down that J.’s flaws do not include lack of consideration for others. Mine, yes, on occasions. The more banal explanation was that the power went off during the night – an occasional Albanian experience – and the water did not have sufficient time to get hot.

The discovery of the truth did not relieve me. The hot waves of anger were just transformed into waves of shame. I knew that J., the closest person for me, would never sneakily or pettily act to the detriment of another. To her, most very few things and activities count as necessities. Yet, even in that case, I was inclined to doubt and doubting is betraying. A minor version of Judas with the inherent potential for even greater betrayals. At the first obstacle, the ready suspicion, blame, anger.

I was ashamed at my own pettiness, disloyalty – an internal one, which is the one that truly matters – quickness to doubt. Perhaps, because I am capable of sneakily and irresponsibly taking things, I was ready to doubt others. I have, “unaware,” finished the hot water many a time, with my excessive long showers which I could cut short but can’t bear to. One more second…leaving others with the unpleasant surprise of an abrupt awakening.

Now that my intuition was confirmed and my doubt disproved, I had to face my own weaknesses. I reached the embarrassing conclusion that I preferred others to be as inconsiderate. Perversely, I wanted the relief that disappointment brings. It is easier to live like that. But, instead, as I suspected, I was faced with my own shortcomings, forced to think of my own habits, the Judas within, so desirous of being disillusioned which would make it easier to believe myself a better person. Instead, I realized I had to slowly and torturously try to change.

by Kleitia Vaso