See Me Adjust My Sails

10 May

As you know I work in politics. Mostly local but sometimes national.  At one time, many years ago, I had the opportunity to work with a man I greatly admired for the work he was doing on behalf of the working poor.  That man was Senator John Edwards. Yes. That guy.

Well you can imagine how disappointed I was to learn of his unfaithful ways and the way it would play out in public for his late wife, Elizabeth Edwards.  As a woman who works in politics and policy she was kind of a hero of mine- articulate, accomplished, very strong in her progressive convictions, a wife and a mother who in suffering the loss of child persevered and carried on to have two more children to fill her heart and complete her family.  When she passed away, before the trial, I was saddened.  She certainly deserved more.

20130425-142024.jpgWhen the story of John Edward’s misappropriation of campaign funds to hide his affair and provide for his OW came to light I was shocked and disappointed. Not just in him but my heart broke for her.  The trial over it played out last year during the spring and summer of my separation from Green. In the middle of my downward spiral into self hate, depression, self loathing and despair I saw in the trial myself, like her, a woman who’d supported her husband to succeed yet had given so much to him that perhaps she was lost in the mix.  I saw in my fractured marriage a reflection of myself as a failure. A failed wife. A failed mother. A failed friend.  I was instead a person my husband hated so much that he stopped seeing me and looked for someone else.

During the course of the trial it was revealed how Mrs. Edwards felt when the humiliation of her affair would become public.  How she railed at John Edwards for him to understand to empathize, to identify with the profound pain that she felt.

Elizabeth was “very upset, she was very vocal.” She screamed at her husband, collapsed momentarily, then stormed at John and yelled something to the effect of, “You don’t see me anymore!!

I distinctly remember reading that article and being struck.  Feeling like someone had peered into my heart and FINALLY heard what my brain and heart had been arguing about for the last year.  An argument that I had with myself because Green could not, at the time, tolerate even entertaining it.  In the course of having his affair…. Why didn’t he see me?!   After he started the affair and I lost 30 pounds – yet he still lived at home – lying to me… Why didn’t he see me?!   I could certainly see him. I saw him change from devoted husband to a deceitful mean-spirited liar who would rather neglect his kids than miss an opportunity to enjoy a game at a sports bar with his whore.  Was the fog of the affair laden lust so heavy that I was invisible to him?

Well imagine my further connectedness when I saw this theme play out on the pages of fellow bloggers posts the other day.  Posts like This Man Gets It  and other that I didn’t pin like I had hoped to mention.  (When I find them I will  or leave them in the comments please!)  This shared sentiment gave me such peace.  It was such a great a-ha moment.  Perhaps its sad but it was certainly validating.  It was not just Elizabeth Edwards and I who felt as if we we’re ignored, cast aside and invisible.  I had thought: Is it that women who are driven, professional and independent make our men feel inferior?  Do we drive our men away?  No fuck that.  All women – professionals, stay at home, quiet, loud, docile, strong, young and old – all spouses and NONE of us deserved to be ignored, to be cast aside for the sake of some illicit dream chasing affair.

The other night when I hurt myself I thought perhaps that Green FINALLY saw me. He says he knows I was hurting. But I don’t know yet if he really SAW me.  I remember one night, on a weekend that he was taking the kids, that my shirt had slipped and revealed my very skinny frame. I was down to under 100 lbs.  Not pretty one someone who is tall.  I saw Green do a double take.   He asked if I had eaten.   I lied and said yes.  He didn’t believe me.  The kids were in his car but Green said, “Do you want me to stay? Do you want us to stay with you this weekend? You can rest and I’ll cook. You need to eat.”  At that I became hysterical, how DARE he try to care about me.  I said, “No.  You don’t love me.  You can’t be here if you don’t love me.”  And he left.  Later, that night he would text me all night apologizing for what he had done.  Claiming all responsibility for the affair and saying I deserved better.  And yet the affair did not end. He was living at his mothers, he would live there and continue to see Maria for another 4 months.  Lying to me the entire time.  Seeing me look like an emaciated hysterical mess? Ugly and worn out?  Broken and depressed?  He still didn’t see me, then?!  Not even to just stop lying and admit that he was still with her?

This thought still plagues me. As I push through the pain and try to accept steps toward reconciliation I am haunted by the fact that Green no longer saw me in his life.  He saw a future that didn’t include me.  He saw nothing but his own selfish needs being met.  Because he was so angry at the world that he decided that only he mattered. I don’t even think he cared about Maria as much as he cared about satisfying himself.  So that leaves me with… if someone can’t be invested in enough in seeing ME why should I devote myself to seeing them? I saw Green at his ugliest. He saw me at my most vulnerable.  Yet he still chose to continue on his path to destroy our marriage.  He says now that he sees what he was doing was wrong, selfish and destructive.  How do I forget what I have seen?  How do you erase the memories of being ignored and invisible?elizabeth-edwards

Perhaps I should turn to Elizabeth Edwards again.  This time not to identify or wallow with her pain but to find solace and inspiration on how she moved on from the affair and faced her ultimate battle – breast cancer.  Her marriage would not survive, she was in process of divorce at the time of her death, but she did reveal that she would not be burdened and broken by it.  She wanted her children and grandchildren to learn from her experiences and to find strength in recovering from all of the blows that life had dealt to her – the loss of a child, marital infidelity and finally terminal illness.

“I do know that when [my children are] older and telling their own children about their grandmother, they will be able to say that she stood in the storm…and when the wind did not blow her way – and it surely has not – she adjusted her sails,”  Elizabeth Edwards

6 Responses to “See Me Adjust My Sails”

  1. zenpoppy May 10, 2013 at 4:49 pm #

    =(

    I actually hate John Edwards. I think he deserves all the vitriol he has received and more. Elizabeth Edwards was such a classy lady. Her story actually reminds me a lot of Susan Sarandon’s character in the movie Stepmom. It feels so tragic that someone A-hole like John Edwards gets to continue on with his (crazy) mistress and Elizabeth Edwards isn’t here to see her children grow up.

    Have you spoken about your husband about him not seeing you? I hope he has a good response!

    • Flaca May 10, 2013 at 5:11 pm #

      I agree with your assessment of John Edwards. He lost a lot of credibility with how that whole scenario played out. I am no longer a great admirer. His daughter, Cate, however is a class act – she must take after her mother.

      I have talked about it with Green. Not being seen. It’s frustrating but at least he’s honest. He just says that during the affair he didn’t think about me or or my feelings. He says now he does “see” me but I think its hard for him to articulate because that would require him to own the pain that he has caused. He would rather do “good acts” to make up for his actions than dwell on the past. It’s not healthy, in my opinion, but we are slowly working toward him being more sensitive. I know he’s remorseful but in many way’s his pride is still in the way of our recovery.

  2. huperecho: to rise above May 10, 2013 at 6:43 pm #

    Wow I hope my kids will see me the same way as a mom who adjuster her sails! Love it!

  3. Still Loving Him May 12, 2013 at 9:45 am #

    I also loved John Edwards, his family and what appeared to be a great American love story between he and Elizabeth. I remember when his affair came out and the reaction my husband had, we’d already donated to his campaign afterall. My husband had all kinds of choice words about what Edwards had done, strangely he was doing the same things.

    I think these men have the ability to compartmentalize and disassociate them selves from the pain they are causing the people that actually matter. Like your husband said, he didn’t think about you.

    My husband said he would have moments of clarity when he was alone but that he did not think of me when he was with other women. Men are so very different than we are.

    Elizabeth Edwards is a great inspiration for us all.

    I love politics too!!! I worked on Obama’s first campaign out of the largest campaign head quarters in FL, I loved every moment. I had wanted to work again during round two but I was deep in the depths of affair despair and barely functioning.

    • Flaca May 13, 2013 at 9:42 am #

      Another similarity! Yeah I actually turned down a job on the first Obama campaign (when NOBODY thought he had a chance in hell) for Green. At the time I would have had to move to Chicago and Green would have had no where to live while in law school. When I discovered the affair I remember thinking about that, what I gave up for him, and I vowed to never do that for anyone (except my kids) ever again. I too was in deep depression during the 2nd campaign. I remember thinking that I should go work on it but I was so depressed it was just too hard. :/

      Yes men do compartmentalize their behavior and sex. It’s very odd. I am not saying all sex has to be about love but when you are married how is possible that they can say, “I just didn’t think of you.” I don’t buy it. Of course my husband did think of me. He knew he had to lie and hide his affair. So to say he didn’t think of me? That’s bs. Ugh. They are just plain gross.

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