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,

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Mama, am I beautiful?

Alice through the looking mirror

I never leave the house without my trusted little notebook. No fancy apps for me, thank you very much. I like it old school when it comes to jotting down thoughts, ideas, and lists. I carry the little notebook everywhere because I never know when I’m going to be inspired by something I see, smell, taste, touch, or hear. But I digress.

This morning, whilst standing in a line at the supermarket, I found myself digging through my purse. My fingers swiftly searching for its weathered spine and bent corners. I say swiftly because inspiration is a fickle lady who arrives unexpectedly in the unlikeliest of places and dances out as quickly as she dances in. The scene in front of me continued to unfold.

“Mama, am I beautiful?” asked the girl for the second time. Irritated, the mother replied, “Stop being so vain and hand me the milk.” I swiftly jotted down an idea for a post.

Stop being so vain.
Four words that regress me in time. I am 14 years old and standing in front of a mirror, silently contemplating my reflection.

“Bella, stop being so vain and finish your chores,” I hear my grandmother say.
“Don’t waste your time, mamá,” replies my mother. “Bella will learn soon enough that God punishes vanity.”

“Ma’am, are you ready to pay for your items?” The cashier’s question brings me out of my reverie. Walking home, all I can think about is why the mother thought her daughter’s question was prompted by vanity.

On the one hand, I admit there is such a thing as a narcissistic personality. After all, we’ve all come across individuals so conceited, they believe themselves to be better than others. On the other hand, I wonder if there is anything wrong with thinking one is beautiful.

I am beautiful.
Something I think all women should say to themselves every day.

Are these words spoken in vanity or are they an affirmation of self love?

Had nana been right in thinking I was vain for looking in the mirror, or was it acceptable for me to be mesmerized by the reflection that stared back at me and whispered, “You are perfect just the way you are”?

Does a woman suffer from a Narcissus complex when she chants the words, “I am beautiful,” or do these simply reaffirm her self worth?

Was my mother right in thinking vanity is a sin or am I right in believing pride in one’s appearance is a sign of healthy self esteem?

My mind wanders back to the young girl and her question. Had she asked me, my answer would have been, “Yes, yes you are.”

While vanity may reside in many who are fixated with their physical appearance, I find that in moderation, it can also help us believe in ourselves and our abilities. In other words, vanity can be used as a means for self love and acceptance.

In a world where society, culture, and the media dictate the standards of beauty, I’m under the impression vanity may be the only tool we have left to battle false ideals. After all, who better to tell us we’re beautiful than ourselves?

What’s your take on vanity?

XOXO,

Do I have time for a selfie?

New Yorkers love themselves ... who can blame them?

The selfie phenomenon.

All the way from Istanbul, to Buenos Aires, to one horse towns and villages all over the world. It’s here. And it’s here to stay.

From the young to the elderly, from blue-collar workers to the Commander-in-Chief.
The selfie taking practice is being embraced by all. So much in fact, we can’t but wonder if it confirms we’re a narcissistic society.

Looking over my son’s shoulder as he browsed through Facebook this morning, I couldn’t help noticing the dozens of selfies of his young friends. Young women, in an array of poses, ranging all the way from the “head cocked to the side” position, to the “OMG, is this still going on?” duck lips.

Later today, just seconds after I posted my own selfie to Instagram, I pondered the reasons that motivate us to share our mug with, for the most part, strangers.

Do we do it as a way of recruiting external validation, or does vanity propel us to use the selfie to document our beauty?

Were these selfies to be unedited and “au naturel,” perhaps the subject wouldn’t bother me.

Yet, looking at my own Instagram selfie, edited with various filters and a blur effect, I realize we aren’t presenting our “true” selves to the world.

The selfie appears to be another way to conform to society’s definition of beauty; one whose sad message is that you’re only beautiful if you look a certain way.

“Not everything is motivated by the evils of society, mom,” chided the Son when I broached the subject at the dinner table. “Sometimes,” he said, “a selfie is just a selfie.”

But is it? Thinking back to the heavily edited selfies I saw this morning, I’m not so sure.

In all fairness, I’m certain there are those who take selfies for the sake of documenting a bad hair day. Others might take them to evidence what they look like at a certain age.

Yet the fact that so many of us partake in the selfie phenomenon raises the question of, do we need others to tell us we’re beautiful?

And that makes me sad.

Sad because, even words like “You’re beautiful,” aren’t going to help if we don’t believe it ourselves.

Sad because we may always depend on someone to validate us.

Sad because we are placing so much importance on physicality and so little on what truly establishes our worth.

Sad because the majority of selfies aren’t true representations of what we really look like.

Sad because in hiding behind an edited selfie, we fail to show the world our true beauty, complete with enlarged pores and imperfections.

We may not be able to stop the selfie phenomenon, but we can refuse to play by the rules of peers, society, and our own insecurities.

We can turn the selfie on its head and instead, use it as a tool to affirm, “This is me. This is what I truly look like and I am beautiful.”

Inspired by my sister, who posted a selfie of her beautiful, unedited self on Facebook, I took a selfie tonight.

No make up.
No edits.
Just me.

Join me in the effort to turn this phenomenon into something positive by posting your own beautiful unedited selfie.

Let us effect positive change in how the world defines beauty.

Show the world the beauty that is you!

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XOXO,

Note: If you post a selfie, please leave a link in the comments section so other readers can see it.

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