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.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

throw one's own body into the 100,000 universes

While having a good cry on the treadmill last night, I read some of Shynryu Suzuki's lectures from Not Always So: Practicing the True Spirit of Zen. One lecture talked about a man who had finally reached the top of a 100-foot pole, but who would not attain enlightment unless he jumped off. It went on to talk about how silly it is to think that you could jump off from there, because everything is what it is, and everything is always changing, and that to reach "the top" of something is no different than any other place, except that it's a different place. I think my relationship was like that 100 foot pole for me. I felt I'd reached the top. Even with the ups and downs resulting from the day to day challenges and upsets with each other(and I thought we had relatively few of those, and those we had felt small and easily resolved - except for the issues of Husband's self-expression and my not doing what I said I was going to do (and his not doing what he said he was going to do for that matter) -it was perfect for me. But in reality, everything is constantly changing, each moment is new. So the place I find myself at now, while it feels so very different, isn't inferior to the top of the pole. It's just a different place with different lessons and different experiences to be had. That feels true, and so rational. But there is still pain. Still attachment to what I wish were true. Attachment to being special. Attachment to unbreached trust. Attachment to that which I feel I can never get back. At the same time I know that attachment is the cause of my suffering. But I don't know how to love intensely and not be attached. To me, that sounds like loving and not being hurt, but how can you love deeply and intensely without being vulnerable enough to be hurt?

Anyway, this different perspective has eased some of the pain I was feeling yesterday. Talked with Husband about my feeling that what he has done to me is far worse than what I did to him. I have a need to know that he understands the depth of the pain I feel, the loss, the shift in the entire context in which I lived my life. I didn't mean to get into that discussion outside of therapy, but it came up because I was asking him if he'd thought very much about what I must be feeling knowing that he'd touched and caressed and kissed so many other women, and looked into their eyes and thought how beautiful they were. I was trying to get a sense of whether or not he understands my day to day experience right now. He tried to explain that, while he has no idea how he feels (although he seems to feel that he wouldn't be as wounded as I if our positions were reversed) he knows he's hurt me deeply and that it will take time, maybe a lot of time, before I can trust him again.

I also have a need to hear everything he's been angry with me for so that I can really hear it, and he can really know that he's been heard, and I can really know I've been forgiven. He's kept so much from me and held so much resentment that I don't think I can believe I've been forgiven unless we acknowledge together the pain we've caused each other. But he doesn't want to talk about his feelings from the past right now, because he thinks the context is so poor due to what he did. He thinks I need to heal some first before we can be at a place where I can truly hear him. And he thinks that what I'll hear is much less significant that I fear it will be. I hope that's the case.

I've had so very few regrets in my life: Missing my friend's wedding is one of the only things I can think of. But now I add to that list the years of taking Husband for granted such that he felt deeply hurt, unheard and unimportant to me. The years of not showing him how happy I was in our relationship, but instead being distracted by work and other things that made me dissatisfied with my life. I wish he could have had the 19 years that I had of feeling so safe and "gotten" and free and empowered in the presence of my love. That's what I got from him. But this is my second chance. How wonderful that I have that. And how wonderful that he can have a second chance, too. This is a gift we can give each other to make our relationship stronger. Breathe...


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