Infidelity, I don’t know where to start on such a complicated issue. You hear it happen every day at every step in life from the rich and famous to the girl at the checkout counter at your local grocery store. Media has a perverted hunger for any story on infidelity, marital betrayal or just a plain juicy risqué report. I can only imagine the level of pain inflicted on a partner by a story of sexual indiscretion that the media is dissecting with coarse and vicious pleasure simply because I have been at the other end of infidelity.
My fortune, so to speak, is that I didn’t have to re-live it over and over every time I opened a newspaper or watched the news. The door to my bedroom was shut so that nobody was allowed to peek in without my permission. I am opening that door now because I believe it’s not only therapeutic for me but I could possibly offer a common ground for anybody who’s found questioning the eternal vows of matrimony and integrity.
People speak of charms and incantations, some eat right and workout, while others get an education or worship a higher being; but we all create and recreate ourselves daily. I know I live and I hurt by my own doing or undoing and somehow I convinced myself in the midst of my last marriage, albeit reluctantly, that life comes and goes the way I made it to be, with nothing more than a mild hangover.
I lived through my last matrimony in complete ignorance and tacit acceptance of what turned out later to be a sordid and vulgar side of “for better or worse”. See, I was so frightened there was something pathologically and socially wrong with me that when given clear choices and clues I chose murky compromise and denial instead.
My ex husband and I married relatively young and began our process of maturing together. When I met him I was ending a chapter in my life that panned out to be more traumatic than a 20 plus some year woman is equipped to deal with, so I looked at marriage as a band aid on a wounded heart even though in the long run it ended up as a band aid on an open heart surgery.
We grew unhappy really soon. I am not sure what exactly was the triggering factor but I think it’s safe to say that it happened to both of us, unhappiness that is, approximately at the same time. Maybe it was the mundane social status a married couple is quickly labeled with: house in the suburbs, two kids and a well behaved golden retriever in the yard. Whatever reason made us feel unfulfilled quickly with each other it’s not as important as the end result. See, paradoxically, we ended up in a pretty confined cul de sac, if only mentally and emotionally while trying to avoid the very same thing socially.
My husband was living a double life and while I was aware of it, we never discussed it openly as I lived in a state of total denial. Simply put the comfort of avoiding confrontation prevailed over the dignity of a pure heart. I wouldn’t say it made me unhappy at that time. I was too young and too busy being vain to pay close attention to my moral hygiene.
As the years went on, we became more and more tangled in the socio economic web that catches anybody as quickly as we dabble into adult life. Kids, braces, mortgages, jobs PTA meetings. We continued to live our financial and social life as normal as any couple. Joint checking account, dinnertime together, small chat about work, about the day, a glass of wine, a laugh.
I never brought up infidelity because I convinced myself at that point that I didn’t care. He was very discreet and I was never confronted with the vulgarity of it.
Many years passed this way, and the suburban life became as oppressive as a hot humid day at the tropics. I could feel the stench of dishonesty and I still ignored it. My husband and I talked more often now about venues outside our marriage. I remember nodding absent mindedly because it felt like such an abstract, surreal idea.
One fine day however my husband sat me down while on vacation in Europe and told me all about the woman he was seeing. The gates of false emotions became wide open at that point and they started claiming their true value on the scale of human passions. I was not prepared despite all the years of complicit knowledge.
The mere fact that now there was a real woman, with a name, a face and a body, a voice I could hear on the phone made it unbearable. I became crushed. I dragged myself through the rest of the vacation like a corpse. I had stepped outside myself and could now see a body and a face that I knew were mine but had no desire in reclaiming them.
We came back home and began the painful process of separation. Later on when every fork , every plate and every piece of furniture was counted and divided I discovered in the deafening silence of my new found solitude that I had been open to hurt, insult and bitter feelings far longer than I cared to admit .
Since then I pledged to live my life in an uncompromised manner. I know how despite years of being held hostage my heart has evolved and mature as I am now, fully aware of what years of insincere oath do to a union disserving complete honesty and dignity.