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,

What are the words a daddy’s girl most wants to hear?

cherry blossom tree

“Bella, do we have to go around the mall again? It seems like we’ve circled the place a dozen times and I’m starting to get dizzy.”

I sigh impatiently. “Daddy,” I say, “You’re being pushed around in a state of the art wheelchair. You have nothing to complain about!”

Little do I know that today, many years after having heard my father utter those words, the universe is going to allow me to “walk” a mile in his shoes…

The sun shines brightly in a cloudless sky. Birds chirp loudly and the smell of cherry blossoms hangs in the air. A perfect spring day. Perfect except for the fact that instead of racing off to the market as I did seven months ago, I am now struggling to get into a wheelchair.

I hear the Significant Other say, “You can do it. Slide back into the seat.” His words sound encouraging but I sense a tinge of impatience in his voice.

And just like that, I regress in time.

“I’m telling my legs to move but they ain’t listening, baby girl,” daddy replies when I ask him what he’s waiting for to get in his chair.

I tap my fingernails on one of the chair’s handles.
“While we’re young, dad.”

“You young people, always in a hurry. You wait till you get to be my age. You won’t know the meaning of the word hurry. And you’d better pray you never have to use a wheelchair.”

I feel guilt wash over me and quickly apologize.

“It’s okay, queen. I know the kids are waiting.”

Queen.
Daddy’s pet name for me.

“Bella, are you comfortable?” The Significant Other’s deep voice brings me back to the present.

“Just drive,” I say, squealing as he starts to push me down the street.

It’s the first time in two weeks since I’ve been out of the house. Breathing in the cool air, I realize how much I’ve missed being outdoors.

At first, being pushed in a wheelchair seems like a gift from the gods.

No bags to carry.
No sweat to wipe off my brow.
No worrying that my underpants are crawling into places they shouldn’t be crawling.

But then nausea assaults me. I feel it rise quickly as the Significant Other weaves in and out of the narrow cobblestone-lined streets that lead to the market. Trying to stifle the need to hurl, I close my eyes.

I see daddy sitting in his chair.
I can hardly believe that his thin frail body used to be burly and strong.
A powerhouse of a man.
A solider who survived three tours in Vietnam and was awarded a bronze star for his heroic service.
A man who served his country for thirty years and then went back to school to earn a Bachelor’s degree.
A teacher who worked for ten years in the public school system.
A father who once chased one of my sister’s boyfriends down the street with a bat.

Exposure to chemicals like Agent Orange, disease, and old age had taken their toll.
His ability to walk and be self sufficient had been taken from him.
He too had felt powerless.

Feeling my head spin, the blue sky intermingles with the pink blossoms and creates a beautiful kaleidoscope effect.

I try to take a deep breath.
I feel tears well up in my eyes as I realize I have never felt closer to my father.

Do not judge a person until you’ve walked a mile in his or her shoes.
Truer words have never been spoken.

I think of the past weeks and how difficult it has been.
Not being able to stand without crutches.
Not being able to bear my weight on my bad leg.
Struggling to get up from a chair.
Dragging myself with a pulley before I can get out of bed.

Clack, clack, step.
Clack, clack, step.
The sounds my crutches make as I drag myself around the house.

Roxy rouses from her slumber and gives me the stink eye.
I tell her she will never again hear me say that the pitter patter of her claws on the hardwood floor is annoying.

Clack, clack, step.
Clack, clack, step.

I lean my body against the kitchen counter as I try to light the stove.

I look at the clock.
It’s still hours away before the Son and the Significant Other make their way home.

I try to shift my weight.
I gasp.
I almost lose my balance.
I grab on to the plank to steady myself.
I realize I’m exhausted even though I’ve barely done a thing.

As I pour water into the French press, I realize I’m going to have to drink my coffee and eat my toast while standing next to the kitchen sink.
I curl my fingers tight in frustration and grudgingly accept that much as I try, there is no way I’m making it back to the dining room table with a plate and a cup of scalding coffee.
I cover my mouth to stifle the hysterical laughter that threatens to break the silence that rings throughout the house.

Taking things for granted.
Taking our bodies for granted.
Taking our ability to walk, talk, hear, smell, taste, and touch for granted.
What fools we are to think we are invincible.
To believe that none of these abilities could be snatched from us.
To think the time will never come whet we stop being who we are and turn into what we have become.

“You take it one day at a time, queen,” my father replies when I ask him how he does it.

Turning carefully, I grab my crutches.
The fresh calluses on my hands cushion the hard handles.
Gritting my teeth, I take a step.

I hear daddy’s voice.

“You can do it, Bella. Don’t you forget you’re daddy’s girl.”

Do you take anything for granted?