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,

Don’t you think you deserve it?

Happy New Year!
Image by Evan Leeson

A close friend called last night to tell me her divorce had been finalized.

Twenty three years of hardships and struggles had finally come to an end.

“I guess now I can tick the box that says single on my tax return” she said through her tears.

Hearing her sob on the other end, I felt confused.

During the two years it had taken for her divorce to become final, I had heard her talk about how unhappy she was, of how she felt like a prisoner in her home, how she wished she could break free.

Yet the day had arrived and she had welcomed it sobbing.

“What will I do now?” she wailed. “I feel utterly incomplete.”

For once, I was at a loss for words.

Should I tell her to host a party to declare her new state of independence, or should I voice the old adage of “This too shall pass”?

I did neither.

Instead, I listened to her fears of starting over, of finding her place in the world, of joining the ranks of single mothers who struggle to raise their children.

And when she was done, I simply said:

You’ve been given the chance to do something many women wish they could do but don’t.

You’ve been given the chance to start over.

To live your life the way it was meant to be lived.

Without restrictions.
Without disapproval.
Without someone policing your every move.

You deserve to be loved unconditionally, without having to act, be, or look a certain way.

You deserve to be appreciated, respected, admired.

You deserve someone who truly listens, and cares about what you have to say.

You deserve someone who doesn’t chastise you, tears you down, or reduces you to a state of invisibility.

You deserve someone who values your independence and encourages you to soar.

Someone who supports you, motivates you, and desires you.
Someone who thinks you’re perfect just the way you are.

Yes, my friend, you’ve been given the chance to reacquaint yourself with the old you.

The chance to leave behind the excess baggage that has held you down for so long.

The chance to resurrect the woman you were before, or reinvent a brand new you.

The chance to meet new people or reconnect with old friends.

The chance to process lessons learned and plan new adventures.

You are free.
Your life is just beginning

I thought long and hard whether to publish this post today and not one I had written on New Year’s resolutions.

Yet it’s today’s date which makes this post all that more significant.

A New Year–a new beginning.

Tabula rasa.
A clean slate.
A chance to rewind, fast forward, hit play.

This post goes out to anyone who is unhappy but unsure of what to do.

As you ring in the New Year, remember, you deserve to come out of the shadows and into the light.

You deserve to be all you were meant to be.

Happy New Year!

XOXO,

What would you tell a younger you?

cafe con leche 2

I still remember the first time I heard pop singer Pink’s song, “Conversations with my thirteen year old self.” At the time, I thought how utterly wonderful it would be to regress in time and warn a younger me of all that lay ahead, to insist I do certain things, to behave or not behave in a particular way.

Yes, life would be easier if we knew what lay ahead, if we knew which decisions would result in hardships and struggles. Yet even while this is not possible, I still find it useful to contemplate how I would be better prepared to steer the course of my life if I knew what lay ahead. I find it’s still therapeutic to think of the things I’ve done and shouldn’t have or the things I didn’t do and should have done. Because even though I cannot change the events that have taken place in my life, I can still identify lessons learned.

I pondered this as I drank my second cup of cafe con leche this morning. As I sat, soaking up the early morning sun at an outdoor cafe, I overheard an angry exchange between a mother and an adolescent girl over her appearance. While the mother desperately tried to convince her child that she looked fine in her swim suit, the girl insisted that she would not take her shirt off at the beach and “expose the public to her fat rolls.”

As I listened to her words, I regressed in time. I easily retrieved a mental picture of myself at thirteen. I remembered how difficult it was to feel good about myself, how I struggled to accept myself. At the time, the opinion of others mattered so much. My decisions revolved around what others thought, said, or demanded. The media ruled how I felt about my body, my person, my self. Comments from friends and family dictated my mood and self worth. Magazines told me what I should wear, weigh, and eat. It was excruciatingly difficult to know who I was, to become acquainted with the real me with so many voices telling me who I should be, what I should do, and how I should act.

Yes, life would have been so much simpler if I had been able to warn myself that the opinions of others would not define me, that it wouldn’t be necessary to seek validation, acceptance or approval. That I and I alone would determine my worth and what others thought of me would not serve as a compass in my journey of self discovery.

If I could go back in time, I would tell my thirteen year old self that physicality alone should not define my essence. That I am so much more than a face, a body, a size. I would insist I follow my heart but only after weighing the consequences of my actions. I would affirm that while dreaming allows me to envision possibilities, realism provides the wisdom to know when to walk away and when to scrap what doesn’t work and start fresh.

I would encourage a younger me to not expend energy on other people’s problems, to stay away from toxic folk, and abstain from meeting the expectations of others. Given the possibility to regress in time, I would shake the adolescent me, hard, and say that no matter what anyone says, I am destined to become a phenomenal woman.

Sisters, today when you look in the mirror or catch a glimpse of your reflection, smile at yourself and say, I am beautiful. I am unique. There is no one else like me.

Because it is every woman’s destiny to breathe, feel, and experience joy. But alas, this is only possible when we believe in ourselves, when we believe we have what it takes to do whatever we want to do.

Let us learn to love ourselves unconditionally and without reserve.

Watching the tears trickling down that angry teen’s face this morning, I was reminded of how easy it is to hold ourselves hostage, to deprive ourselves of feeling joy, to sabotage our right to be happy.

And while it may not be possible to warn our thirteen year old self, we can still move forward, secure in the knowledge that we are phenomenal women.

Each and every one of us.

Yes, ladies, we are phenomenal women meant to shake our hips without reserve, hold our heads high, and laugh heartily with every step we take.

What would you tell your thirteen year old self?