44: Passing Judgement

The intricacies of love and desire don’t yield to simple categorization of good and bad, victim and culprit.  When we reduce the conversation to simply passing judgement, we are left with no conversation at all.

Esther Perel, The State of Affairs

When C and I met on Twitter we were both married and felt unhappy in our marriages. Her primary relationship of twenty-one years was broken in ways that aren’t my place to address here.

My tumultuous marriage was, from my perspective, irreparably damaged.

Probably for different reasons we both were on our way out of those relationships. Maybe reasons not too different. And maybe not for the most honest or truthful reasons. As I’ve gotten to know C, and she’s become more vulnerable to me, I see there was a deeper, and darker, set of truths to her leaving her marriage.

I’m sure she knows my reasons too.

Regardless of our motivations, justifications, and truths, by the strict social definition of infidelity, we both engaged in a mutually-beneficial affair. A detail we never publicly discussed but was a source of much derision and gossip from her family…and probably mine.

Maybe her shame, and her families reaction to her divorce, is why at times she hid me from her family and friends for so long. My Good Doctor reminds me our families are built on conformity to norms, expectations, and shared history. We fear their judgements.

One of the gifts from Esther Perel’s book is perspective.

I really believed I was the only man engaged in an affair. That my infidelity, secret keeping, and escalating series of lies were the worse in the history of infidelity, secret keeping, and lying. That somehow my betrayal was worse than anyone else’s betrayal in the history of betrayals. 

Those people most directly impacted by my deception may agree. They are wrong of course, but we judge based on how we perceive our own pain.

Clearly, my perspective is self-aggrandizing and grandiose.

And just one more lie I told myself as I self-sabotaged my life with C. A sabotage based on the lie she was better off without me. A sabotage that told me she was perfect, an angel loved by the devil.

What a bunch of bullshit.

I believed I was not deserving of her love, respect, or time and so, in a self-fulfilled prophesy made it true and in the process allowed my emotional, physical, creative, and financial to be dismissed. If I don’t stop judging my value, and make those things important to me a priority, or at least equal to those of others, than I am forever choosing to play second fiddle in my own life.

What I know now after nearly two years of counseling is no one deserves anything. We are not entitled to happiness, comfort, safety, or even the truth or honesty. We are owed nothing. The only right we have with other people is to leave. We choose to stay, we choose to leave, but it is still our choice.

We get neither right or wrong, but what we negotiate for and negotiation is always defined by a tension between desires. Lying and secret keeping are two of the ways I was taught to manipulate the tension in a home riddles with alcoholism, abuse, and neglect.

“Go along to get along” the operating principle.

“Do whatever you have to do to protect the relationship from my wrongness,” was the action step.

“Mistakes are not allowed,” was the lesson of vulnerability.

“You will be held accountable for how others feel and act,” being the root of love.

As a child these family of origin truths allowed me to survive. I learned to lie when I recognized people don’t actually want to know my truth, but wanted me to take care of their feelings. I kept secrets when I recognized that the people closest used my vulnerability for leverage to control, manipulate, shame, or humiliate me.

Moving forward I need to stop with the categorization of my identity as “good and bad, victim and culprit.” More significantly, I need to stop reducing the conversations around my choices and life to one of “simply passing judgement.”

The nuances matter if I’m serious about change. I got to quit lying to myself. And let the truth be told. Don’t know how it’ll end but I know where to begin. I know who I am. I know what I did.

I’m not doing this again. I’ve got this life to fix.

Life to fix

The Record Company

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
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

Whoa, whoa
Whoa, whoa

I left my home today
I didn’t have that much to say
This time alone is all I got
Singing my song in the parking lot
Every day I wake this way
Some the days I just can’t take
Get that money, get that break
You ain’t gonna win if you ain’t gonna play

Whoa, whoa
Whoa, whoa

I like the way I feel
I’m all night, close that deal
I’m all alone, it’s all I know
Singing along with the radio
Dream about you every day
I can’t go back, you’ve gone away
Knock me down but that’s okay
We all look back on yesterday
We all look back on yesterday

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

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

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

Whoa, whoa
Whoa, whoa

I got this life to fix
Threw it all out in a ditch
Broken down when I was sick
Build it back up brick by brick
I got this life to fix
Threw it all out in a ditch
Broken down when I was sick
build it back up brick by brick

I got this life to fix
Threw it all out in a ditch
Broken down when I was sick
Build it back up brick by brick

Whoa, whoa
Oh, build it back up, build it back up
Whoa, whoa
Good Lord, oh, build it back, build it back
Whoa, whoa
Yeah
Whoa, whoa
Build it back up brick by brick

Off the Ground

The Record Company

I gotta get myself
Off the side of the road
I gotta get myself up off the side of the road
Things are lookin’ clear as they’ve ever been
Don’t know how it’ll end but I know where to begin

Gotta get myself
Off the side of the road
I got to quit lying to myself
And let the truth be told
I got to quit lying to myself
And let the truth be told

Again, I woke up burned-out by the sun
Tired of layin’ still so I’m movin’ along
Quit lying to myself
And let the truth be told

Hey, hey, yes
Woo-hoo
Woo-hoo
Hey, hey, I’ve gotta pick myself up off the ground, yeah
Woo-hoo
Woo-hoo
Hey, hey, I’ve gotta pick myself up off the ground, yeah

And I gotta hunt myself down a brand-new home
I gotta hunt myself down a brand-new home
Yeah, now I got the answer to my biggest question
Had to loose where I was to get my direction
Gotta hunt myself down a brand-new home, lord
Lord, the tears that I’m hiding
No they ain’t for cryin’
Yeah, the tears that I’m hiding
No they ain’t for cryin’

I’m never gonna let em start spilling out
‘Cause they pour down my body and they flood the ground
The tears that I’m hiding
No, they ain’t for cryin’

Woo-hoo
Woo-hoo
Hey, hey, I’ve gotta pick myself up off the ground, yeah
Woo-hoo
Woo-hoo
Hey, hey, I’ve gotta pick myself up off the ground, yeah

Oh, let the truth be told
All day, let the truth be told
Oh, let the truth be told
Baby, let the truth be told
Oh lord, let the truth be told
Oh god, baby let the truth be told

I gotta get myself up
Off the side of the road
Oh, quit lying to myself
And let the truth be told
Well, my head is heavy and my heart is empty
But my spirit is strong and my legs are ready

Gotta get myself up
Off the side of the road
Quit lying to myself
And let the truth be told, go!

Woo-hoo
Woo-hoo
Hey, hey, I’ve gotta pick myself up off the ground, yeah
Woo-hoo
Woo-hoo
Hey, hey, I’ve gotta pick myself up off the ground, yeah
Woo-hoo
Woo-hoo
Hey, hey, I’ve gotta pick myself up off the ground

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