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.
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.
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.
It 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.