Somewhere, out there, are people who have forgiven infidelity and moved on. I myself am one of those people. Or, I should say have been one of those people. But now, I find myself back on the strange planet of infidelity and I’m finding that this round is so very different from the rest. I can’t explain why. Perhaps I’ve reached my limits. Maybe my emotions and the circumstances are too different. Perhaps I’m different.
That’s not to say I’m not trying to forgive or that it’s impossible for me to forgive. It’s saying that it is unlike any previous time has been. It’s harder to forgive and the forgiving process if much more complicated. Full of more questions. In many ways I’ve forgotten how I was able to forgive before and in many other ways I question whether I really ever did or whether I simply buried it deep inside of me, afraid to rock the boat, afraid to stand up and object to what was happening. More focused on the well being of the betrayer than on the pain I felt inside.
I’ve always been the type who looks for the good in people. My compassion and my trust have been both strengths and weaknesses. I have a tendency to be drawn to the wayward or the down trodden. I am beginning to wonder if I gain some sense of satisfaction out of the challenge of rehabilitating those souls. Some feeling that I am making a difference in someone’s life. Or whether I turn it into some way of avoiding my own disappointments and fears. I don’t feel like I try to change people or fix people so I’m not sure where it comes from. I think that deep down I just like the feeling of making something better for someone. Of making life better for them. I like the romantic fantasy of healing a broken person and watching them soar. I like the fairytale of the sweet girl with a hellacious rebel streak who steals the heart of the rebel prince and through her love he finds all things noble and true that were missing in his life. He discovers that together they are a powerful force. A powerful exotic source that can achieve so much, make such a difference in the world, all while they experience unimaginable depths of passion.
Where did I come up with these ideas? Did I create them during childhood as a way to believe that adultery didn’t have to be a way of life, that altruistic love, unshakable commitment, mind blowing eroticism where all obtainable through a real and true love? Have I created them as a way to hide from myself by focusing my love and attention fully on everyone else around me? Is it some kind of need to be a hero? Is it a driving need to nurture and encourage?
I honestly don’t know. It’s just who I am. However I got this way. But being this way is a recipe for repeated hurt. I have forgiven so much, accepted so much, believed in a lot of people who weren’t deserving of my faith. That’s not to say I haven’t also received a lot of joy from a lot of people who deeply appreciate and love me. It’s also not to say that I’m a weak, naïve little spit of a woman who accepts being walked on in all areas of her life. Because I’m not. I am a phenomenal leader. (Yes, I’m a Leo and skate the thin ice of arrogance from time to time). I’m a good leader because I see people and hear people. Really listen to them. I find their strengths, I can team them well and I push them to new limits and boundaries. I’m laid back yet unshakable in my convictions. I believe deeply in integrity. I’m a special needs parent. I am learning after more than a decade of strengths I never knew I had. I am an advocate and a 24/7 care giver. Patience is a requirement. One that comes less easily to me than I imagined before. Flexibility and creativity are essential. Two traits I have always held in good measure. There is very little that is weak about me. There is much that is tender and soft about me. I am both lion and lamb. Sun and moon. I am artist soul and corporate exec. I am and have always been through out my life a walking contradiction. A chameleon who adapts easily while my deepest sense of identity and being is safely held in a buried treasure chest. Am I disingenuous and insincere in all those roles? Absolutely not, each one of them is a different piece of me and each one is authentic. But it is the inner sense of me that is such a contradiction to the daily life I live. The life where I must manage and lead and cope and excel, vs the inner life where I live a very different existence, and the rebel in me that is forever shaking the bars to escape and redefine my life into something very different from what it is now.
All of those things contribute to my current struggle. On a simple level is it as simple as fool me once…
It’s that unrelenting sensation that to forgive and move forward is somehow a testimony to some kind of weakness that would allow this to all happen to me again. It makes it difficult to look in the mirror and not ask myself…What in the hell are you thinking? How can you accept this and still believe in yourself? How can you of all people, NOT rebel against this? And then there is the part of me that looks back from the mirror and feels very weak and very unworthy. That part that goes back 3 decades and says something must be wrong with me, otherwise people would not do this. Would not hurt you. Somehow, someway, I must be lacking. Must not be enough.
The battle for forgiveness is not just emotional. It’s physical. It’s a lurching and dropping of the inner stomach each time you pose the question of forgiveness to yourself. It’s the racing of the heart when I think too hard about it. It’s a deep, deep fatigue that makes it difficult to find the usual energy to take charge of the day. Yet the restless anxious energy that keeps you awake at night.
The quest to find and give forgiveness is also not a rational process. In fact, it is nothing remotely close to rational! Even those of us who routinely make difficult decisions, many of them under pressure, find ourselves incapable of evaluating the circumstances without wrestling a constant stream of nonsensical questions.
If I can forgive but not forget, what then does it really mean to forgive? If forgiving is REALLY a gift I give myself and not the other person then why in the hell does the concept feel like shit? Does forgiving make me a better person or just a weak person who accepts betrayal as common course? How do I forgive when everything about it feels wrong to me? How do I not forgive when I still love this person so much? Is forgiving an invitation to more hurt? Will forgiving this person, change them for the better or just give them a free pass to repeat the behavior like so many times before? Why does the betrayed have to make the ultimate sacrifice? Why is the betrayer bequeathed with the hope of a new and better future while I am left to accept that nothing was ever really real and I can never have normal back again? What the hell is normal anyway? Surely it’s not the lie and illusion we lived. If I don’t want to go back to what it was and I don’t know how to go forward, why am I staying? Why do I want this person so much when I hate everything he has stood for? How do I believe in him again? If he was so terrible, what was I doing here? If I truly seen something special within him that made me love him, why can’t I believe in that enough now? And yet why can’t I stop seeing that inside of him. That very special something he holds. A goodness buried deep beneath the piles of garbage he has created for himself. If I understand some of the feelings he was experiencing that made him live this life of serial cheating and online activity am I losing my mind? How terrible of a person am I inside for wanting to repeat his behavior? For wanting, desperately wanting, to level the scales?. Not to extract revenge, to LEVEL the SCALES. To feel on equal ground. To know that I was able to forsake all others and he was not, is a painful thing. Am I horrible for wanting to experience someone else’s body as a way to purge those feelings of injustice? Is it really so wrong to want to know that before I choose to accept this promise of a new and different life that I’m once again on equal footing? That I haven’t been the stupid girl waiting at home for the man who was out dipping it in everything he found available? That I have enjoyed the sensation of another man’s hands and body and chosen to stay here rather than feeling obligated to stay here? AHAH! Maybe that’s it. Maybe somewhere deep inside I need to feel I’m making a choice to accept him back in my life. No, I have the choice already. The choice is mine to make. It still comes back to level scales. That he betrayed what we were supposed to be to physically take pleasure in others, that he separated love and sex in his mind, those are the things I need to purge from my mind and my heart. Those are the things that beg me to partake of another man.
Like I said, nowhere close to rational…….