What has changed in this person so that the next time a crisis occurs or they aren’t feeling loved and special they don’t opt to go fuck another person?
The above question from SpaghettiSam is probably the single most important question in my life right now.
It was an urgent enough question that after I read it, my Doctor and I spent two hours talking about SpaghettiSam’s post, dissecting the meaning of this question for me.
I imagine we will be spending quite a bit of time dissecting it later.
If you aren’t familiar with SpaghettiSam, you should be. She is one of the women betrayed by their Partner and not only got a shit sandwich but she got it twice. If you want to be reminded about why you are angry, she is your wingman. If you want to know what could go wrong in reconciliation she is the one to quote.
The entire situation sucks for her and her family.
Sucks worse than anyone else’s situation? I have no idea. What I do know is that research shows over and over, often we all think our pain is somehow worse than someone else’s.
We’re all snowflakes about something.
Of course, if you want to know what could go right, read Elle over at the Betrayed Wives Club, TigerLily and MindlessCraft at Reconcilled4Life, The Queen Dolly or start reading Moisy’s new journal, Making This Better.
There are plenty of success stories too.
Here are a few others worth considering.
SpaghettiSam tried reconciliation and played the accepting wife role, but as she wrote, “despite the fact that I made all of those changes he asked for, while he made none…He didn’t talk things out with me. He didn’t try to fix things. He took no responsibility. He simply resumed his relationship with Harley and blamed everything on me.”
Once he got the divorce he clearly wanted, he still blames her. Seriously, if you need validation that “once a cheater, always a cheater“, she’s the one.
Everyone’s situation is unique and I make no judgments about anyone’s decisions. Just as there is more than one experience, there is more than one solution. Love them and stay. Love them and leave. Hate them and stay. Hate them and leave.
Or chose one of the thousands of options in-between the extremes. There is no one single path for everyone. There is no one path for recovering. There is no one path for “repairing to re-pair”, as Esther Perel writes (she’s going to hate I quote Esther Perel). I know it is always the person that was betrayed’s choice.
Why Read Her
I read SpaghettiSam as a reminder of just how Ugly betrayal can be – as if mine isn’t Ugly enough. How regardless of intentions, motivations, and history there is always, always, more to the story.
She is angry. And if you read her journal it becomes obvious why. I try to keep a low profile when I go there, but I go there anyway. For her own reasons, she doesn’t think much of me. I get that.
However, on more than one occasion she has helped me discover the motivations and truths I needed to hear. She has a story too and it helps me.
On more than one occasion I’ve left her journal angrily and had to go throw a rock in the lake.
Not because she was being mean or angry, but because she was right and what I saw when she shined the light on my blind spot made me physically and emotionally cringe.
The Meaningful Questions
I’m going to rephrase SpaghettiSam’s question: “What has changed in this person so that the next time a crisis occurs they don’t opt to go fuck another person?” (I removed the part about feeling special or loved. © always made me feel special and loved. Mostly.)
From my perspective, as I read the writings and talk with the men and women that have been betrayed, this should be the question. Not “Why did you cheat” but “What has changed in this person so that the next time a crisis occurs they don’t opt to go fuck another person?”
And as I wrote yesterday, the “Why” of every decision after first act is simple: “I’m scared that if I tell you the whole truth ©, you will leave me.”
That’s it. There is nothing else. There is no grand conspiracy, no narcissistic intentions, or Machiavellian machinations. There is no con.
As such, SpaghettiSam’s question is the only truly meaningful question to be asked at this point.
In reality, I’m working on digging into that every day. Not for ©’s benefit but for mine, but if © – or anyone else ever asks – I will be living the answer. They will know I won’t cheat.
I won’t get into all of it here, but the primary lesson at the moment is you cannot love someone without hurting them.
And if you love them? They will hurt you.
I won’t lie even if the truth will hurt them. Even if telling the truth might destroy them or me. As author P.C. Hodgell wrote in her novel Seeker’s Mask, “That which can be destroyed by the truth should be.”
And my Partnership with © was destroyed by truths – and secrets.
Perhaps it was destroyed because, like Jack Nicolson’s character declared in A Few Good Men, “You can’t handle the truth!”
I had my secrets and lies. Like Nicolson’s character, I kept the secrets and lies because I wanted to protect what mattered to me even as I acted in ways to betray what I love.
And The Truth?
Ten silent, long and lonely months later I realize the Partnership with © needed to be destroyed. I cry as I type the sentence.
As my Doctor reminded me today, © is not who I think she is either and she too hid in her own secrets. There is more to her silence than my betrayal et al.
In order for us to grow, we both had to face the truths: we had grown stagnant. We had reached the winter of our old Partnership and we needed a new spring. We needed to grow and mature.
Whether I want to admit it or not, change requires pain and loss. I have pain. I have loss. I either adapt to the change or perish. Half measures avail me nothing. I am changed by virtue of the pain. I am different by virtue of the loss.
I lost everything that mattered to me – both the real and imagined. It’s gone. And in truth, I’m glad. I know something better is coming along. I can feel it even if I cannot see it.
As a result, as The Record Company sings, “I got this life to fix; Threw it all out in a ditch; Broken down when I was sick; Gotta build it back up brick by brick.”
Perhaps that is why, as my Doctor said to me today, “In all the years I’ve been working with people, you are one of the few that are committed to the process of self-discovery. You are doing the work to find answers and solutions.”
If I were ©, I wouldn’t take me back either without a significant change in my approach to relationships, my sense of entitlement, and some brutal honesty about my motives.
There needed to be consequences.
It took me years to build the lie I desperately avoid revealing. And the lies and secrets are a result of a lifetime of communication issues and personal trauma. It is going to take more than 10 months to clean it up.
Old habits die hard. New skills need to be learned.
I’d like to practice with © but, although saddened and disappointed, I understand why she doesn’t want to practice with me.
As I said, I wouldn’t take me back either. I’m proud of the way © was able to walk it off. She is truly amazing. What © did was the most loving thing for her, me, and Us in our situation…but that is not the best solution for everyone.
However, after 10 months apart, and having plenty of journaling, counseling, and hard work, I know I wouldn’t go back either.
I know I’m not ready.
I know there were fundamental flaws in the foundation of our relationship that had nothing to do with my betrayal.
I’m doing the work necessary to heal and learn, regardless of ©’s choices but I won’t return to half a relationship either. She needs to discover an emotional voice too, instead of leaving me to guess else we are destined to fail again.
I’m no Hero…but she is no Damsel either.
I realize now, there are things I did and said in my relationship with © that I thought weren’t important but were deeply meaningful to ©.
I know now there are things © did that were deeply meaningful to me she thought was no big deal.
We didn’t talk about them as they happened.
We both were acting and reacting on different kinds of layers and types of betrayal that go back decades. Unspoken and unacknowledged hurts never discussed, and although it certainly doesn’t justify my betrayal, it doesn’t mean they didn’t exist and didn’t hurt our intimacy.
I cannot address the issues behind my betrayal without addressing all the other issues either. My decisions didn’t happen in a vacuum. There is no silver bullet. There is no selective editing.
Unless © can answer the question, “What has changed in you so that the next time a crisis occurs I can count on you not to run and hide?” I cannot see a path forward.
If she doesn’t have a good answer to that question I won’t go back. I want more than half a relationship too.
As I deliver better, I will want better. I know what is possible now and will do my part to create it.
I needed the perspective. I needed the REASON why he did it. Much like you his only answer was selfishness. That wasn’t good enough for me. You say there’s no good reason but there is. You were lonely and sad and you felt unloved and unwanted and you were HUMAN; you were human searching for […]