The Beginning of Something Else

On June 1, 2007 I found out my husband and partner of almost two decades had been unfaithful to me since before our marriage, and had been having intercourse with prostitutes for 3 1/2 years. This is what happened next.

Monday, July 23, 2007

The gifts that come when you need them

I checked my email this morning and found that Marcie had sent me this poem by Mary Oliver on Saturday:

Wild Geese
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting-
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Oh how I needed that.

Last night was horrible. I'm going through all kinds of emotions, having all kinds of thoughts. The book on grieving says that at first you can be in shock and denial, and then the feelings can come. This is what has happened for me I think. Last night I was in so much pain, and have been since Saturday night. I'm struggling with my own self-doubts tied into my pre-existing self esteem issues, and with the betrayal issues and what they mean about my life, about me. Sometimes I feel like this pain will never end, and I want out of it so badly. I want this part to be over. And I want to get back to being happy and in love and full of trust and optimism about the future. I want to go back and I know I can't and some of the pain is about that loss. I feel like the person I loved has died suddenly and I'll never get to see him or talk to him again. In his place is this person that I don't know if I know, and don't know how I'll ever know if I know. After 19 years of intimacy and profound, deep closeness and sharing of myself, I'd think I would know by looking into Husband's eyes if there was such a fundamental betrayal happening. But apparently not. And I'm left with the feeling that I am alone, that to expect to be able to trust anyone that deeply is a delusion that will eventually result in this kind of pain. This is a feeling I thought I got past 30 years ago when I dealt with my father's betrayal. It's been so long now since I've thought of men as a category of people who couldn't be trusted, who had to be kept at a distance. But now it seems like that's the only way to be safe from this kind of disillusionment. The reality is that the only person you can really depend on is yourself, and thinking otherwise is a dangerous risk. But I know I can trust Marcie and Nora and Sophia. And there are other girlfriends I can trust. So it seems like men are the problem. Men with too much power in my life. But the thought that I can't give myself so completely to another person - to ever have that level of intimacy and trust again - is also painful, also something to grieve. Why are we put here if only to figure out how alone we are? What kind of lesson is that?

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