The Tunnel of Infidelity - A tongue in cheek look
We always assume it can never happen to us….not to you, not to your great marriage, which is the envy of all your friends, or so it seems by the statements that have come from their mouths. Later you will find what they TRULY thought but were afraid to voice to you. Why after all, you give him everything he could possibly need or want. Look at you, talented, attractive, great shape, intelligent, mother to his children, awesome chef and housewife. Not to mention bringing home the bacon…yada, yada, yada. There is his serious character flaw; a severe lack of ambition and drive. Him leading a double life? Bah, it would take way too much effort. There’s no WAY he’d stray….besides…you would KNOW……your natural intuition would kick in. Fast forward a few months…….
OK, so intuition starts nagging at the back of your brain – let’s just ignore it, after all the sex life hasn’t changed. The pinprick continues, stabbing a little harder – what’s his sudden interest in new clothes (you been trying to get him out of jeans, t-shirts and sweats for years), dieting, teeth whitening, tanning and kicking the nail-biting habit. Let’s not even talk about the sudden interest in “personal, down there grooming”. The man who was as predictable as hell suddenly becomes MIA (missing in action) – his excuse of “I was out shopping”, is NOT something you would associate with this heterosexual man.
Time to find some evidence, out comes the “Super-Snoop-Spy” persona that hides deep within all women. Phone – check, email – check, car and clothes – check. Work schedule – check. All specifics pointing to something terribly amiss. Dig deeper to find –an electronic and paper trail – emails, texts, love notes and cards. Your heart beats an unfamiliar erratic beat as reading them makes you feel like you are looking into the life of another person – DUH, you are. NOT, the person you married but some alien life form that has inhabited his once before dependable body and brain…from the not too distant planet called, “Mid-Life Crisis”.
Disbelief and shock take up temporary residence in your brain. One phrase continues to play over and over like a broken record within your head…”What do I do with this information”. A knee-jerk reaction is the basic human feeling – confront then conquer. With a few hours to spare before the rat walks into the door, you call your hair dresser for an emergency visit. Slip into your best “little black dress” as well as “looks to kill” makeup. If a confrontation is to be, then as any warrior, you put on your strongest armor.
Pack HIS bag with necessities. After all as the “good-wife” you know exactly the articles of clothing and toiletries he will need. Not the expensive cologne you purchased as a gift, for why SHE should get to smell it you have no idea….though truth be told she has already among many other liberties you wish not to think about.
Sitting and waiting, while your foot taps an erratic impatient tempo; feeling like a black widow spider, ready to pounce when the door opens, bag hidden from immediate view. Random thoughts fly through your brain without order, “How long has it been going on.”, “What shall I fix for dinner?”, “Is she thinner than me, younger, prettier?”, “This carpet really needs to be cleaned.” The door knob turns, you take a deep breath…
Incredibly, with calmness and determination without yelling (impressing yourself) composed and rational words, dates and facts come forth. Being from another planet, he of course denies it, “You are imagining things.”, “You’re crazy.”, and “Why are you being this way.” he fires back to each accusation, in addition to a million other statements and denials that men MUST learn in high school, as they are repeated as if by rote.
You are composed and collected, though seething with anger until he pulls the trump card….love and affection. If only he’d not touched you, he would have been out the door, given the boot, kicked to the curb, thrown away like yesterday’s trash and gone with not so much as a “good riddance”. The tunnel would have then been blessedly short and relatively easy to navigate within a few quick months. But, NO, quickly breaking down your wall of defense with a simple act of “holding you” stretches the process to several dark years, filled with a multitude of confused tears. Damn. Damn. DAMN!
Denial – Anger - Bargaining – Depression – Acceptance; all those lovely stages of grief, you have visited them all. Sometimes reverting back for a brief sojourn to one or two and even taking residence in one or another far too long. You see these words in your sleep and they infect your dreams. Neither waking nor sleeping brings relief from the roller coaster ride that you did NOT buy a ticket for. You have been bound, gagged and tied to the little seat that rocks when he changes the direction of the wind and his assault. Dizziness and nausea fills your days as the tracks travel upward for a while until then dropping unexpectedly out from under you based on his whims and his moods, which are tied to hers.
Why do you stay? Many reasons; your child (or children), deeply entwined finances, fear of the unknown and the comfortable habit of knowing someone is witness to your life. Additional haphazard thoughts appear in your tired mind without warning or rationale, seemingly small reasons; you’ve NEVER mowed the yard nor ran a snow blower…and what about all those jars that are impossibly hard for you to open??? Though most coherent reasons are hidden under the “assumed” reason of love, it isn’t really part of the equation. Yours was a marriage of convenience though convenient for who is yet to be determined. Something you figure out MUCH later in the realm of acceptance.
Months of pushing, pulling and promises occur as the tunnel winds deeply and darkly into places that can not be pre-navigated. You push for promises that he simply has neither desire nor willpower to keep. His promises to end the wretched affair, fail miserably and repeatedly, amid apologies and additional promises. The heart wants what the heart wants, and can not be controlled. The body once tasting of illicit affections craves and then caves time and time again, without regard for the damage it causes. Love or lust it matters not, for the outcome will remain the same, though what that is only time will tell. Laying all blame on the “Other Woman” instead of shared as it should be; you secretly bestow upon her the derogatory title of “Stray Dog”. HIS moniker comes later and changes depending on your mood and what stunt, phone call or email you receive from HIM. The “H” is the most common and nicest among the many choices that spew from your mouth in anger and frustration.
He pulls you to him with the repetitive promises for he too is filled with fear of the unknown. The life he currently leads with wife and girlfriend on the side, while filled with strife is a dream and nightmare coexisting in the same sphere. It is the best of both worlds that he aspires to attain and balance; why not? If perfectly balanced he reasons, life would be perfect, with the trophy wife and the playmate that bends her life to his and has him upon a pedestal. His desire has always been to be on SOMEONE’S pedestal. HE is HER dream, the one whom she has waited for her entire life. He has become her knight in shining armor. You think about warning her, but decide sometimes it’s better if they don’t see the Karma Bus barreling down with its headlights fixed upon them.
This brick wall is struck, time and time again. Before you know it, those months have turned into years of unhappiness and uncertainty, waiting. On an ordinary day, out of the blue, an epiphany occurs in your aching heart and battered brain. You have given the permission though not verbally but by silent consent, for him to continue an affair that has emotional and physical ties. You have let him make the rules which you alone wield the power to change.
The sword of realization waits firmly in hand……
A seemingly small incident severs the fine thread that has held you, while the door to freedom swings open, waiting for you to step through to the other side. You dash through without a backwards glance, nor thought to tomorrow or where you will run to. A safe haven is sought and found while you process in peace and tears, the control you have now taken back with one shift in thought. Pen to paper allows thoughts to flow from your captive mind, like a river rushing to its end point in the sea and away. In the expanse of a few days, you discover yourself, the one that has been buried beneath the emotional garbage that has been part of your life for so long. Breathing deeply you let go of known comforts and patterns that have held you captive and begin to truly live, for the first time.
Life changes and is uncomfortable, but gives liberation over the next few months as the steps to the divorce process is never easy. Family and friends choose sides in a war they have no part in. Accepting this flaw of human nature; those who truly love and identify with you, applaud your success, and ask “What took you so long?” Those who choose to support his side will be soon parted from your new life, and tossed out with the old life, much like yesterday’s leftovers. Rumors are brought to your attention of things you have (or have not) done, and you wonder at the audacity of those who start and spread. With calm acceptance, you realize “when judged guilty based on rumors, it’s wasting your breath to convince otherwise.” you dwell not upon them. One who is guilty often points a finger of guilt at the one who is not, making charge of crimes supposedly committed. In this midst of this tempest, you discover aspects and strengths about yourself that surprise and fill you with deep satisfaction.
Painful memories come to surface about your life with him during this process of reflection and pondering. Things said and done, how you were treated and how you feel about your marriage now all point to issues that surface with the cause and effect of long standing control, emotional and mental abuse. Infidelity has become the sharp focused glasses that opened your eyes, allowing you to see the bars that surrounded you in the cage of his control. The living with constant criticism and feelings of inadequacy became as familiar as breathing. Away from the biting sands of disapproval, you become the content and complete woman you were born to be. Friends notice and question the secret smile that now plays upon your face and the joy now twinkling in your eyes.
The taste of freedom has become addictive and you do things you were never allowed to do, simply because you can. The dream of travel realized, as with passport in hand, you book your first trip to distant lands long imagined. Shopping becomes a simple pleasure, purchasing items to please only yourself without recriminations, explanations or justifications; no longer needing to hide. A peace filled home awaits you each night, a haven after years of conflict and struggle. Deep untroubled sleep heals the ravages that marital turmoil has inflicted. The simple act of eating and enjoying comes without guilt as “ice cream for dinner”, brings about child-like glee.
Much of the healing is complete when the final decree is in hand. Your simple wish to be free does not come fast enough as legal proceedings; the red tape of our judicial system moves ever so slowly. The required cooling off period passes without any regret nor thought, only a bright star signaling the end is in sight. Days marked off in red on a calendar indicate the moving closer to complete freedom with passing time. Deep found relief is felt in every aspect of your life when the day arrives and is quietly over. You wonder if the sun stood still in the sky as your life has now been returned to you as your own; and you feel tears falling down your face. Whether the tears flow from freedom, failure, sorrow or triumph it is finally over…...
When all is said and done, it wasn’t about you. He simply changed the way he viewed his future life and decided he neither wanted nor needed the outstanding woman that you are, but someone very different…more like himself. In the end he, like you will be happier with another or happier alone and free. And though there may be moments of regrets on his part, you will be beyond wondering and caring. You will cease to speculate if he will ever comprehend that happiness comes from within ourselves as a gift TO ourselves. You have learned the lessons so few recognize; our family, friends, partners and lovers are not responsible for our happiness, they only share in it. Whether life brings someone new in to your life or not, you will learn how to love yourself, for exactly who you are; no changing necessary. Your standards for a friend, lover, and partner have been raised and you will not settle for anything less than what you deserve.
When the time is right, a new person enters your life…….and you are ready.
Now almost at the end of this long-ass, stinking, black as night tunnel. I can see the light….which is practically blinding me. I CAN make it. I WILL make it. I DID make it.