Whatever happened to “till death do us part”?

Day 205 - Stone and Flesh

I had every intention of posting a second installment of my trip to Prague today. Yet sometimes we plan things and fate steps in and leads us in a different direction.

A phone call was responsible for today’s turnaround. A dear friend, distraught and suffering from depression, called to tell me her husband of 15 years had cheated on her.

It’s not the first time I write about divorce, infidelity, or betrayal on this blog. Other posts, while dealing with these subjects, have not been prompted by the sheer outrage I feel today. My friend’s weeping and claim that she is “broken beyond repair,” touched a nerve.

Thinking of her sorrow, I wondered how it was possible she had meant so little to her spouse that he had stepped out on her. To make matters worse, he’d cheated on her with another man. Not that this mattered. After all, betrayal is betrayal and in my opinion, the gender of the other person is irrelevant. Yet my friend did not feel the same way. To her, it mattered immensely.

“Am I so unattractive he had to cheat with a man, Bella?”, she asked sobbing. For the first time in our ten year friendship, I was at a loss for words. Her husband claimed he was straight and that his indiscretion had simply been part of a middle age crisis; the desire to appease a curiosity he’d had for years. I wasn’t buying it and neither was my friend.

It’s important to note that had this man not been married, he would’ve been free to explore any kind of sexual relationship he wanted. However, given this was not the case, his indiscretion was no different from any other tawdry affair.

Anyone who reads my blog regularly knows how situations like these make me question the “why.”

Why hurt your spouse in this manner?
Why betray her trust?
Why rob her of her self esteem?

Pondering possible answers to these questions lead me to write a letter. A letter to the very person who initiated this pain. I wrote it thinking, not only of my friend, but in all the women who’ve suffered before her and who will sadly follow in her footsteps. As someone who’s gone through a similar experience, I find that its content reflects what the majority of us felt when we made betrayal’s acquaintance.

Dear Cheating Husband,
How dare you betray the woman you promised to love in good times and in bad times? How dare you put yourself first, before the very woman you promised to love and cherish till death do you part?

Were you not aware of the pain your actions would cause? Did your wife’s love mean so little you were willing to sacrifice it for a night of cheap thrills? How could you be so quick to forget the many years she had your back, loved you unconditionally, and took care of you?

How could you stab her in the back when all she ever did was have your children, take care of your home, and help pay the bills? How could you throw away her trust for mere sexual gratification?

How did you expect her to take you back after you lied, cheated, and made her believe she was worthless? Why did you make her believe you were a man of your word, with integrity, and who respected the sanctity of marriage?

How dare you look her in the eye? How dare you tell her to get over it, that it was just one night? How dare you disregard the results of your actions? How dare you expect her to go on like nothing happened?

Shame on you for being so selfish. Shame on you for misleading her into thinking she was your one and only. Shame on you for putting her life at risk when after having sex with a stranger, you came home to have unprotected sex with her.

For now, have your little laugh. Pretend it’s no big deal. Mock her when she cries.

But do not forget karma is unforgiving. She has a way of making her way to those who are callous and inflict pain. Someday you too will experience the hurt and suffering you have caused. Someday you too will feel broken and unable to get on with life. Someday you too will start and end each day asking yourself, why?

Your wife? Hopefully she will no longer be by your side. Hopefully, she will have realized she is worth more than being with a man who didn’t think twice of betraying her. Hopefully, she will be far away, free of your toxicity, living her life in joy, and laughing at the little things.

Only then will you realize the irony–that your betrayal lead to her freedom. The freedom to experience joy the way it was intended.

Attentively,
Just another survivor

Have you ever felt the pain of betrayal?

XOXO,

Why do children say the things they say?

Mother and Child

When the Son was four years old, I heard him say the three words every parent dreads to hear: “I hate you.” He didn’t yell or say them in the middle of a tantrum. Instead, in a barely audible fashion, he whispered them. Refusing to believe what I’d heard, I asked, “What did you say?” Furrowing his brow, he repeated the phrase but this time he silently mouthed the words.

Distressed at the thought my little man had stopped loving me, I called my sister, a non-practicing psychologist at the time. She assured me I had nothing to worry about. On the contrary, I should rejoice because it was obvious he felt loved. Confused I asked her to explain. “Bella, only a child who is secure in the knowledge he or she is loved can utter those words.”

Not content with her explanation, I kissed and hugged the Son every time he walked past me. I had worked too hard to create this little human to see him turn on me.

We were living in the Caribbean when the Son turned seven. In the middle of Hurricane George (one of the worst to hit the island of Puerto Rico), he decided it was the perfect time to complain that I never listened to him. Winds, that at 155 miles an hour, had us clinging to each other praying the roof wouldn’t fly off and his only question was, “Yeah, you look like you’re listening but are you REALLY hearing me when I talk about my Pokemon?”

Stifling the sarcastic response of, “It’s hard to to hear when the wind is rendering us deaf and very well might suck us into an infinite vortex,” I reassured him there was nothing more important than Pikachu, Charizard, or Blastoise.

Once again I was compelled to dial my sister who after laughing for ten minutes replied, “Only a child who feels heard says something like that, Bella.” Hearing silence on my end she elaborated, “In other words, he’s playin’ you, sistah.”

My beautiful boy, an expert manipulator at such a young age? For the second time, I refused to believe her and made it a point to both listen and hear my little one. No multitasking while he talked. I made it a point to hang on his every word.

The Son turns 25 in two weeks. This morning, after waking me at six to make him breakfast and pack his lunch, I heard him curse under his breath. “I’m late, mom. I have to hurry or I’m going to miss my train.” A rushed kiss and a half hug and he was out the door.

Two minutes later the phone rang. “Mom, I dropped my beanie on my way to the stop. Can you go out and look for it? It doesn’t have to be right this minute but keep in mind it’s a 32 euro Nike hat.” (Code for go out now)

Not stopping to stretch my muscles, I hobbled down the stairs. Looking left and right, I pondered which way he’d gone. I decided to go right. Alas, two blocks into my journey I realized the beanie was nowhere to be found. I quickly turned around and in doing so, caught my reflection in a parked car’s window. It was 43 degrees but in my rush to retrieve the beanie, I had left the house wearing only a short sleeved nightgown, a pair of black velvet house slippers, and the worst case of bed hair I’d ever had. I looked like I’d escaped from a mental asylum.

Not wanting to dwell on my current state, I tried to focus on the task at hand and continued my search. Ten minutes and two blocks later, I finally found the infamous hat. Holding the wretched article at arms length, I saw a man looking down at me from a second story window. His open mouth and confused stare conveyed what I was thinking. I looked like a lunatic.

Tired and cold, I crawled up the stairs. Stopping midway to catch my breath, I remembered something the Son had said the night before. Discovering I hadn’t yet washed his favorite jeans, he’d commented, “Mom, you never do anything for me.” Entering the house, I threw the beanie on the table and poured myself a cup of coffee.

This time, no call was made to my sister. I already knew what her answer would be. Only a boy who has too much done for him is capable of uttering such words.

What do your children tell you?

XOXO,

Note: This post is not meant to portray the Son as selfish, but instead, to exemplify the silly things children say when they feel secure in their parents’ love.

Why doesn’t love live here anymore?

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One of the many perks of spending my summers in Spain is running into old acquaintances. Such was the case last night when the elevator I was waiting for opened to reveal two old friends.

After exchanging excited greetings, we found ourselves sharing a bottle of cheap Spanish wine while catching up. We discovered who was pregnant, who had a new grandchild, and sadly, who’d passed away. We found out who tied the knot, remarried, or filed for divorce. While this may sound like a typical gossip fest, I assure you it was not.

Why? Because what started off as a simple exchange of information, deepened into a high order discussion of identifying “the why.”

One minute, one friend was revealing details of her brother’s marital break up, and the next, the other was admitting she’d been in a loveless marriage for twenty years.

Wine glasses were quickly refilled to cover up the awkward silence that ensued. However, the question hanging in the air was, “Why?” The friend in question did not have an answer.

The conversation that followed was so interesting, my friends have allowed me to share our results. But first, I should point out that our first question was, how different is staying with someone in a loveless marriage from an actual divorce? The answer is, not much.

We identified that in both cases, the individuals have become distant; estranged. They no longer share common interests and exchanges of affection are either rare or nonexistent.

Conversation is limited to current events, the weather, and the daily conundrum.

They never make time for one another and everything else always takes precedence.

Romantic, intimate moments, and sex are just a hazy memory. They claim to be busy, tired, or stressed. One has a headache, the other has to get up early the next morning.

Time continues to pass. One year turns into five, then into ten, and before long, they’ve spent two decades in the company of someone who is nothing more than a roommate.

You’d think all things considered, they wouldn’t want to spend a moment in each other’s company, let alone a lifetime. Yet together they remain.

Our discussion revealed the typical reasons for this being so: religion, financial difficulties, and the famous, “it’s in the best interest of the children.” However, we wanted to go deeper. Much deeper.

We wanted to discover what had the power to hold two peole hostage and force them to wake up in a state of misery day after day.

We were convinced a justifiable reason existed.

I want to tell you we were successful. I want to tell you we had an “aha” moment, that one of us screamed, “Eureka!”. But alas, such is not the case.

We were more confused at the end of our conversation than when we started. We bid each other farewell, disheartened and frustated.

This morning, an empty coffee cup by my side, I continue to look for answers.

My brain tells me perhaps it’s fear.

Fear of the unknown.
Fear of abandonment.
Fear of starting over.

Or perhaps it’s conformity–blind acceptance that this is the hand destiny has dealt.

Or maybe people are just too tired, lazy, or believe themselves unworthy of something or someone better.

I’m certain each case is different. Individuals in these circumstances are sure to have personal reasons for remaining. However, something tells me many, if not all, have one thing in common. They all want to know why.

Have you found yourself in a similar situation, and if so, why do you stay?

XOXO,