Last week regular iVillage blogger Caylie Jeffery wrote bravely about her devastation after a couple she was close to broke up due to the husband's adultery in her post Adultery heartbreak - how could you cheat on my friend. She wrote from the wife's side. Now, it's his turn...
Is there someone you admire and look up to, secretly dreaming that your life could be as wonderful as theirs? Do you sometimes wish in a private wish that you could have some of what they have? Or do you know a couple who are the perfect pair, too good to be true?
Most people just see the cover of a book - a lovely picture of warmth and love, hand-holding and smiles. Occasionally, they might read a few chapters and get a glimpse of an argument brewing or the dregs of one just had. Rarely do people read the story all the way through, to see a couple at their worst. Even the couple themselves are often too close to the page to see the words written in bold.
That's why so many people are shocked and devastated when a relationship breaks down. We're always surprised when the grass on the other side is actually full of bindies.
A few days ago I wrote a very passionate letter to the husband of a friend after their recent separation took a turn for the worse when it was discovered he'd been having an affair. I knew one side of their situation, I had my say about it and I stand by what I said.
There are so many facets to any one person, which multiply exponentially when you partner them with someone else. Throw tough times, different personalities and parenthood into the mix and you have yourself a very complicated situation to analyse. Not that it's my job to analyse what went wrong in their marriage... My job is to pick up the pieces of what's left of my female friend.
The thing is, the man in this scenario is also my friend, and I love him dearly, just as I love her.
To my great surprise, he read the letter I wrote to him and responded in kind. I was so relieved to hear from him and to have a dialogue, because to me, it had felt like I had lost him forever. I understood his reasons for making a change in his life. I lost respect because he gave away the moral high ground the moment his infidelity was discovered.
I won't tell you what he said to me. Suffice to say that he is completely aware of the repercussions of his choices and owns them completely, sadly but totally. That he is glad that his wife has good friends who can stand there and support her, because he knows she will need us. That he hopes one day we would forgive him and understand a little more about his choices.
Let me tell you a story about another man I know...
A kind, thoughtful, gentle man who cared so much about people that he would lay down his life for them in every possible way. His wife, his children, his family, his friends and his colleagues saw him as their life-blood, their oxygen, their elixir of happiness.
The more he gave, the more was expected of him. Cups were held out waiting to be filled- bottomless vessels that never slaked their thirst- they bayed for more and he kept on giving, loving that he could provide for so many, not noticing that he might need something in return.
Somewhere along the line, he lost sight of who he was, of what he wanted in his life. He didn't know how to ask for what he wanted because in the busyness of his life, he didn't actually know what that was.
Time passed, until one day he could feel that he was nearing empty and there was nobody there to fill his tank. His cries for help were drowned out by the usual demands until one day, his body got sick and broke. He wondered, distantly, if this would get him the fuel he needed so badly, the care and attention. It did for a while: platitudes were sent and people visited, if only to check when he'd be up and running again. They hoped it was temporary and champed at the bit for him to get better, fearful of the change in him, unable to accept it.
He suddenly knew he was all alone - drifting, drowning and silent - unheard by anyone. Just before he went completely under, a beam of sunlight pierced through dark clouds above him. She threw him a life raft, eased him aboard, and helped him ashore. He looked up to see someone who was able to replenish his cup. He drank from it, greedily, scared and ashamed at what he was doing but unable to stop because he was becoming whole again.
As he grew stronger, he was able to see the imbalances in his life. He worried for his family because he loved them but thought he would never be strong enough to give them what they needed and keep something for himself. He thought he would be better able to provide for them if he were to leave.
It took him several years to gain the courage to go. For someone so used to giving to those he loved, the pain was excruciating when he severed the ties he had made so many years before. For all of them.
He looks back now and wonders why he didn't have the strength to tell those who loved him most that he was suffering under the weight of responsibility. He was scared he'd lose them, and ironically, in the end, he lost them for not telling them how he felt before it was too late.
So to conclude this sad story, I want to say to you all out there that even though these words may have opened up old wounds, or made the ground you walk upon a little shaky, perhaps we can all use the experiences of others to make some changes in our lives. Even if that change is forgiveness.