It is not an easy task to unring a bell, nor to remove from the mind an impression once firmly imprinted there…
State v. Rader
62 Ore. 37; 124 P. 195
May 28, 1912
This is Part Two of a five-part story on my betrayal. Read Part One by clicking here.
Let’s be clear
There should be consequences to the betrayal, secret-keeping and escalating series of lies. Anyone who wants to sweep it under the rug is ignoring the opportunity to build a better future – with or without the person they betrayed.
I just want to take a few moments and discuss a few details based on where I am today and what I’ve learned six months out from the Reveal Date.
K called C thirteen months after the sexual relationship ended and revealed selective parts of the truth to C. It was the day after Thanksgiving, 2017. It was the day the life I love, with the woman I love, and in the community I love, ended.
That too is a consequence.
Taken as a whole the consequences were swift, unrelenting, expensive, and extensive.
Regardless of the pain and loss, I’m thankful K called C and doing for me what I was having trouble doing for myself: breaking the cycle of shame. K provided the help I needed to get out of the emotional and mental grave I dug for myself.
She saved my life.
For that, I am eternally grateful to her.
Before we go any further, there are a few important details.
First of all, you are never going to hear all the details or facts. You are getting the CliffsNotes of my emotional, sexual and mental betrayal of C, K, our families and myself. There is no narrative leading up to discovery day that should be construed as good or noble.
There will be a great deal of My Ugly I choose to share with only my therapist, C, K, and very small number of mature, experienced, and non-judgemental friends.
Secondly, I will also do my best to avoid the bane of betrayal: armchair psychology. This is the process by which laypersons utilize social media clickbait and their own hurts to diagnose the internal motivations of other people. Then out of arrogance and contempt, they insert themselves into other people’s pain by sharing ghost stories to further scare, shame, or manipulate the actual parties involved.
Writing gives the pain purpose. It focuses my hurt on both the meaning and the solution.
Originally, I wrote in the hopes C and K would read this and recognize my behavior isn’t about them. They did nothing to deserve the deceptions or lies.
I originally wrote in an attempt to be open and vulnerable to C. I thought if she could see I was willing to publically address my behavior I would be willing to address it in greater detail with her. I was hoping to break through the silent treatment.
I originally wrote to defend my life with C against the ghost stories as retold to me by interlopers and trolls. Only much later did I learn C was the one feeding the facts of my betrayal alongside ghost stories, self-serving embellishments, and half-truths to sympathetic outsiders.
However, none of my efforts mattered, and for reasons, six months later I find myself still writing.
I’m hoping my writing will add a layer of perspective for the betrayed and the third partner in the dynamic. However, more importantly, I’m writing to reach the betrayers, like me, that are left alone in their pain, shame, humiliations, loneliness, and confusion. I’m writing to learn from them too.
There are over 6,000 books on Amazon addressing infidelity and betrayal. There are few titles written by the betrayers about their experience, motivations, and consequences. Much of what is written is by self-declared life coaches or people with varying degrees of professional experience helping the betrayed find perspective and healing or by the bitter betrayed, and their opportunists, mythologizing stories of abuse and narcissism and the subsequent escape.
Books, stories, and click-bait authored by the latter two are driving the demonizing of the betrayers and keeping honest and truthful conversations underground. This type of armchair psychology is killing people, relationships, and families.
These monster narratives reinforce the arrogant opinion that the men and women remaining in a relationship with betrayers are weak, broken, hostages of an unremorseful monster. “Get out!” and “Once a cheater always a cheater!” they cry on videos, Twitter, and Facebook. These profiteers leverage the hurt of others while criminalizing the entire narrative surrounding infidelity, secret-keeping, and the escalating series of lies necessary to cover the behavior.
This is, as Brene Brown says on the Be Better Podcast a, “common enemy intimacy”. A non-sustainable intimacy created by hating of the same people. “It’s a counterfeit connection. It’s hustling of the worst kind.”
Maybe the couple dealing with betrayal should call it quits. Maybe they shouldn’t. I have no idea. Neither does anyone else. Many of the black and white options I hear lack imagination. Everything becomes a win or lose, us versus them, all or nothing narrative. “Nuance is for losers!” goes the angry and bitter betrayed ones.
Love them and stay. Love them and leave. Hate them and stay. Hate them and leave. The betrayers have the same exact choices. There is an infinite number of options between those points. Don’t let the hurt and a lack of imagination limit your options. I’ve come to recognize every situation is unique. As Esther Perel writes in her book The State of Affairs, solutions should be tailored to the human beings in the relationship and not dictated by morality, culture, interlopers, or traditions.
Whatever you choose to do it is always your choice. Always. There is no wrong choice. None.
We each have our own path but part of navigating it is recognizing our own truths. This is why when in turmoil people should wait at least a year before making any life-altering changes.
Unless the change gives them what they wanted anyway.
However, considering the aggressive posturing by the bitter authors and culture is it any wonder men and women go to such destructive lengths to cover their betrayal and hide behind walls of defensiveness and trickle-truth? It doesn’t make it right but don’t pretend the pressure isn’t real.
As such, I write because I want men and women that betrayed their vows and promises to know they aren’t alone. Betrayers aren’t criminals, narcissists, abusers, or monsters. They failed at this obligation – sometimes spectacularly.
However, they aren’t failures at every obligation.
In the proper context, there are benefits to betrayal: what we do post-discovery is as significant to our lives as what happened pre-discovery – with or without our partners.
Perhaps more so.
Facing post-discovery requires courage. “There is no courage without vulnerability,” says Brown, “but we are all taught growing up not to be vulnerable.” Which is why so much of what we do pre-discovery is informed by an emotional cowardice. We have been taught to be afraid of vulnerability.
We are taught never to admit we don’t know, only the weak ask for help, we are responsible for the well-being of others, encouraged to have pride, and most damagingly, don’t embarrass your family.
Is there any room for humility, genuineness, or vulnerability in those lessons?
Until we start to treat betrayers as human beings instead of caricatures, betrayers will continue to hide, lie, and secret-keep. They have no incentive to be vulnerable. They simply want to fit in. However, for me, trying to fit in is how I came to be living out of my van.
K’s call to C allows me the opportunity to be vulnerable and secret free. I’m embracing the gift.
My writing is just one way I am making myself vulnerable and healing. I write as a way to be vulnerable. Moving back to YoYo Town, restarting my stalled economic development projects, trying to reconnect with friends, accepting the consequences, being open about my hurt and passions for C, and leaning into the hurt are just some other ways. “More vulnerability, not less is the way to healing a broken heart,” says Mark Nepo.
I’m also writing because I won’t be blackmailed. If I think to myself, “I don’t want anyone to know that!” I write it down and share it either in my journal, on my blog, on Twitter, with my friends, or with my doctor. I share it for feedback only to discover, nothing I’ve done is unique.
As such, I cannot be shamed, humiliated, intimidated, or blackmailed by my fear, anxiety, shame, pride, interlopers or C. I recapture self-respect, power, and a healthy pride.
Of course, I also hope documenting my experience will serve as a catalyst for a new and different life as I move forward.
Lastly, taken as a whole, perhaps my writing may have value to others struggling to recapture their worth in the face of their own humiliations and betrayals.
Painters paint to get better. Writers write to get better. Creating is not the Thing, it is simply the Way of the Thing.
If you choose to read what I write it is your choice. You clicked a link and followed it here. I’m not responsible for how my writing makes you feel or think or think about what you feel or feel about what you think…but I am interested.
Also, nothing here is intended to demonize, humiliate, or criticize C or K. This is simply my story, based on my experience. If you see me as attacking C or K that says far more about your biases than about mine.
Feel free to add your personal experiences below.
Since discovery day I’ve been adulting.
Not always perfectly, but I’ve been open and willing to discuss any aspect of my choices with C or K.
C isn’t interested and hasn’t had a meaningful conversation with me in nearly six months.
From the beginning, interlopers have worked to turn the screws in my head to make me doubt the reality of my relationship with C and K, or added theatrical narratives dripping with ghost stories and revisionist history.
A history they never personally witnessed or experienced.
Unfortunately, the actions of interlopers have fueled a drama triangle where C is painted – or volunteers – for the role of a victim. A narrative where interlopers paint themselves as Heroes. A drama where C’s understandable grief and hurt is played out through vengeful storytelling and rumormongering.
Rumormongering is like when we drive by a wreck thirty minutes after it happens. We gawk first. Then we start to guess what happened based on our own experiences. We can see the consequences of physics but we will never know what the now decapitated motorcyclist was seeing, thinking, feeling, or doing moments before his death. We don’t know where he comes from or where he was going. It’s all speculation.
Early on other people’s speculation bother me.
I’m past caring. I recognize it has actually made me stronger and more willing to be vulnerable. It has allowed me to see the power of vulnerability.
I know who I am. I know what I did: I failed C, K, our families, and me. I betrayed my vows. I kept secrets. I’m neither victim nor villain. I engaged in a prideful, dangerous and selfish pattern requiring an escalating series of lies to cover my behaviors. I’m still trying to work through the damage to my life, with friends, and with K.
I also know what I didn’t do.
Frankly, I’m done contemplating the words of people with an ax to grind telling me why I did what I did or who I am because of what I did. One thing is abundantly clear, it is impossible to discern the motivations and intentions of other people. No one gets up in the morning planning on making a bad situation worse.
However, my betrayal has consequences. C has every right to end the relationship on any terms she chooses. Those are the consequences. Those are the terms I agreed upon when we met. Besides my doctor, C’s opinion is the only one that matters.
Everyone else is an interloper. Everyone.
As I’ve said from the beginning, ending the relationship is a reasonable, natural, and foreseeable consequence. I’ve never said or acted otherwise.
Everything else is revenging. Everything…