14: K

img_20181019_161942.jpg Perhaps the biggest tragedy of our lives is that freedom is possible, yet we can pass our years trapped in the same old patterns…We may want to love other people without holding back, to feel authentic, to breathe in the beauty around us, to dance and sing. Yet each day we listen to inner voices that keep our life small.

Tara Brach

Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha

Over the last twelve months, I’ve debated asking K, my ex-wife, out. At times I’ve debated taking her to bed.

A few times I have.

Despite her reveal, and the things she did and said to facilitate this outcome, she is an excellent person…but like everyone she is full of all the frailities, insecurities, and doubts plaguing most of great humanity.

K hurt before we were married. She hurt while we were married. She hurt after I left.

I am responsible for some of her hurt…probably because I hurt too. I hurt her repeatedly over the years while betraying ©. I abused K and her trust, I neglected K’s feelings and her heart. I’ve discussed this elsewhere so won’t rehash it here.

However, there was nothing altruistic about K calling ©. It’s about the howling of a lonely, cold, and frightened soul reaching out to another. She hurt and she reached out to © to try and find someone that might understand. I think maybe she did that because I always spoke so highly of ©.

Maybe not, but I need to be generous in my perspective. After all, that is what I have asked others for so I’m extending her the same courtesy.

I’ve come to believe K’s actions were a desperate plea to be heard by someone, to not be a secret, and not be written out of existence.

I understand now because as I tried to defend my story with © by writing, singing, and trying to reach ©’s heart, I too felt like I was being written out of existence. It is a deeply painful and grief-filling experience to be met with silence. I ignore nearly every heart song from K just as © ignores mine.

I had a great deal of shame about how my marriage with K ended and I thought if I could make her feel better about it ending than she would be better and I wouldn’t feel shame. There was nothing altruistic about my behavior. Actually, it was one more selfish act in a long list of selfish acts. I was trying to fix myself by fixing others.

My betrayals of © and rolling over in the divorce decree was an unskillfully applied coping skill to avoid the hard emotional crap entitled, guilty, and shame-filled people use to avoid life. My decisions were motivated by anxiety conspiring with conflict avoidance to run amuck.

Or at least run.

For many years I considered K my best friend and someone I could count on…but just as life made me conflict avoidant and anxiety filled, life made K hard and angry before I ever arrived. This resulted in problems in our marriage. It is why I left years before I left.

Like all of us, K has her things. I have no rose colored glasses on when thinking about how she behaved. However, I too was emotionally dishonest, avoided intimacy and vulnerability, and zigged when I should have zagged.

I certainly have no high ground.

K is smart, articulate, passionate, and I believe she loves me. It is why she tried so hard for so long and in a final act of despair called ©.

I have contemplated going back to K. Sometimes it is just loneliness but sometimes I wonder if it is something more.

I’m not sure why K would want me back either. I’m not sure she understands. She said to me, “I cannot understand why I can hate you…but when I talk to you it feels like home.” 

When I think on it I’m not sure that is healthy but it is honest. 

K has consistently acted lovingly in the face of my Ugly. I have not always shown her the same consideration.

This is why I cringe when I hear so many women talk about their partner’s affair partner. K isn’t a slut, whore, cum bucket, or skank. She is a woman and a person with feelings and vulnerability.

A person and I lied to her. Repeatedly.

I broke her heart. Repeatedly.

I betrayed her. Repeatedly.

In this situation she isn’t the Villain.

I am.

A year ago I struggled with owning that, but now?

Now I realize that in order to heal I need to love my Ugly enough to have compassion for the Villain. I need to see that I am more than all one thing and in that, I have found a great deal of empathy and perspective about myself and others.

The outcome of K’s conversation with © is the ugly ending of what I believe was a wonderful, meaningful relationship full of potential. One I was committed to for the rest of my life. A relationship I miss.

However, despite what K may, or may not have said to ©, and what © may, or may not have said to K, K has repeatedly told me she still loves me and wants me to come home to her.
Accept it or not, but my marriage was a wonderful, meaningful relationship too. I never regretted marrying K but I have all too often regretted not making the most of it.

The question becomes then, “Why don’t you go back to your ex-wife?”

For years my guilt forced me to keep secrets from © and I do not want to ever be in that position again.

For entirely too long my secret-keeping and lies slept between © and I. For entirely too long I carried the shame over my failed marriage around my neck like a dead albatross. The stink spoiled my Partnership with © and with myself. 

My unwillingness to let it go poisoned everything I tried to build with © and resulted in me deeply hurting both of these people and our families.

I don’t go back because I will not repeat that cycle.

I will not be motivated by shame, pain, or humiliations. I know, at the moment, any bed I sleep in has © sleeping between me and that person. 

My brain and body want to move on but enough of my heart still belongs to ©, and therefore I cannot fully give my heart to anyone. I will not go into another relationship with one more dead albatross around my neck.

I’ve done enough damage to my ex-wife that I refuse to pile on.

screenshot_20181024-182116It is tempting at times to reach out to her because that would be easier but when I try to talk with her the conversation slides into discussions of her need for monogamy, my betrayal, and her pain. It slides into angry conversations about her calling © and the things she said and wrote: some true, much not. Plus my anger at K is misplaced most of the time.

Just as it isn’t ©’s burden to relieve my guilt and regret for betraying her, it isn’t K’s responsibility to make me feel better about hurting her. 

And, as hard as this is to say, I care about K and her pain and hurt but I cannot heal her either. I tried that before and it destroyed me and my relationship with ©.

Until © is not emotionally sleeping in my bed, I have to be careful not to use someone to soften the blow and turn them into a rebound. I have enough regret in my life, I don’t want to carry any more forward. 

As long as I know I would work dillegently to repair to re-pair with © (with an understanding of the proper boundaries), I cannot fully commit to the next relationship.

Of course, I love K, but I cannot go back, or anywhere else, knowing my heart is still grieving the loss of ©’s trust and Partnership. 

I really want to stop running from one relationship to the next.

19 thoughts on “14: K

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  1. As your story unfolded, I very early on stopped seeing K as an OW. You (admittedly) lied to her and being your ex-wife and someone who loved you, she believed the lies. She needed to believe those lies. And as your story has unfolded even more, I don’t see C as the damsel in distress although it seems she likes to play that role. You are right not to jump into anything while you are not emotionally ready, but honesty, where I really pulled for you and C to talk in the beginning, I find myself now on K’s side. Perhaps when you’ve had more time to heal, you and K can get some meaningful conversation back and see where it goes. Or not. Or at least rekindle the friendship you had. When I look at how this has evolved, with K telling C, I see a woman fighting for the man she loves, even though things may not have been done the right way. I see more love for you from K than from C. Ultimately, who we love is who we love and sometimes they don’t love us back the same way… xoxo Dolly

    1. Thanks Dolly.

      As far as ©, I may not have been clear, © knows her power and uses it. She has embraced the role of damsel and leveraged it. When we were in court she pretended we didn’t live together. All of her paperwork reflects the lie that I just moved to YoYo Town to stalk her. She is so self-absorbed she sees everything I do revolving around her.

      I’ve always seen Ks behavior as trying to recover our relationship. Much of my lies and behaviors were driven by a desire to feel better about leaving by trying to make her feel better me leaving. Almost every lie was driven by trying to keep the peace and then discovering it was nonsustainable.

  2. I’m still so confused on the story.
    So you were divorced from K, in a long relationship ship with C at the time when K called C to tell her you were cheating on her (C)? Is that correct?

    1. I was still married to K when I left. I didn’t leave K for ©.

      I was separated from K for two years (I think) when I slept with her. I slept with her the day the divorce was final. It was the most selfish act of my life. Up to that moment I never lied to © about anything.


      1. Oooo and C didn’t know you were married?
        Thanks for clearing it up for me.

        I get the “damsel in distress” vibe from C. 🙄
        I also think she needs to get herself together and stop trying to beat a dead horse over what happened.

      2. I lied hard to © to cover my shame. I lied hard to K to avoid conflict.

        I completely understand the mad and hurt. We step on the toes of our fellows and they retaliate…both women have retaliated in their own ways.

      3. As we tend to do. It’s all a defense mechanism. We want defenses; we feel that primal need to protect ourselves.

  3. I agree with Dolly, but will say one other thing: you can never go backwards you can only go forwards. That doesn’t mean don’t bo back to K in the future, it means that whatever you have in the future it has to be something new: because you have learnt from your experiences, because you have evolved because of your experiences, because you want to be different in your life going forward – understanding vulnerability, expectations, what you have learnt. I believe that everything in life is a lesson, and when we don’t learn our lessons they keep coming back and they get harder and harder until we learn.

    1. Going back to K isn’t an option. Going forward is the only path.

      My heart wants what it wants… regardless of how much sense it makes. I think too often I get caught up in questions of drama triangles, codependency, Pursuer-Distancer dynamics, and counseling. I treat this like issues of recovery instead of issues of life.

      It isn’t that complicated: stop avoiding the hard things and treat the one you love like they are someone you love.

      My Partnership with K was a disaster. I left for the right reasons the wrong ways. My actions created shame.

      My Partnership with © was everything I sought my whole life. I betrayed her out of shame.

      I wanted to spend the rest of my life with ©. I never imagined being anywhere else, even when I was.

      I don’t know what happens next but I’m in no rush – most days – to get there.

  4. I think we all tend to gravitate to what is familiar to us. Familiar may not be what is healthy for us. The most important thing to know about things familiar to us is that they usually are people/ places that initially are trying to create comfort for us.

    The challenge for all of us in recovery who are seeking health, is to take the road less traveled by, to go to our room. To sit with ourselves and our “stuff” and just be with it. Learning to be okay with ourselves, by ourselves. I think you are making a solid decision to not go go rebound with K even if your visceral and emotional self may pull you there.

    Good work!!! Proud of you!! ❤️

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