“Stop all this weeping, swallow your pride
You will not die, it’s not poison,” Tombstone Blues, Bob Dylan
Pride. Its one of the seven deadly sins.
I blame Green’s pride for his infidelity. I believe, and Green has confirmed, that he was so hurt about what was going on in HIS career, HIS IMAGE and potentially with HIS contribution to our finances that HE sought out having an affair as a way to hurt ME. His pride drove his hurtful actions.
Green wanted to blame his bad decisions on my pressuring him to provide high value items – but that’s not true – I never asked for a big house or a new car. I was happiest when we lived in a tiny apartment driving 10 year old beater cars. For him however, to admit that it was not me but his own poor and impulsive choices that had nearly cost him his career was to hard to admit to himself. Instead he wanted to blame me and he wanted to feel good. He wanted to hurt me and he wanted a fresh start. He falsely believed in destroying US he could recreate himself. In looking at it I don’t think he did it consciously… like an addict he could not identify the pain he only wanted to numb it. As part of that plan he needed to find someone who validated that sentiment for him. Green found that equally damaged person in his whore, Maria.
Green and Maria are two people who were validated by seeing that someone is attracted to them. By breaking rules. By being selfish. By seeking instant gratification and “feeling good” no matter what. To Green and Maria the fact that I was person with feelings was not important. What was important was having someone tell them they were good. They needed to be valued. Good looking. Good company. Good at sex. Shallow to be sure but for Green and Maria those secret acts of infidelity built a vile intimacy between them that got them their next “pride” and “validation” fix and it was intoxicating powerful.
So in the rubble of that affair and my fractured marriage where does that leave me? What about my pride?
Well I’m the last seated at the tabled feast of sins and heartbreak looking a big ole pile of stinking poop on a platter. A pu pu platter if you will. (I decided to try to curb my cursing in this post…. I was gonna call it, ‘Eating Sh*&’ but decided that was kind of gross.) The main dish at this feast is pride and that’s me having to eat it, by the big spoonful and finally swallow. At least that is how I have felt. I have struggled with this every day. It feels like poison. It’s bitter and sour.
I struggle with these feelings of low self worth. How much of a fool I must look like to everyone – to Green, Maria, to my friends, my colleagues, my family and finally one day to my daughters? I don’t think I’m crazy on this one… being cheated on is the epitome of humiliation. Green and Maria tore me apart in an effort to legitimize their stolen moments and their cruelty to me. More than that there are the ‘friends’ aka sniping back biters who label me as a “door mat” or “pathetic” or “weak” because I have chose to stay with a cheating husband. Being labeled as weak when my independence has always been a source of pride to me is very difficult to live with. I don’t say this because of my professional standing, I say this as a modern woman, more often in our society those who “stand by their man” are labeled as pathetic losers with no self esteem.
As a feminist, I sometimes feel even worse, my professional friends seem to think that as someone who has worked to advance human rights and certainly the rights of girls and women that I should not tolerate this in my marriage. It was hard for me to reconcile the two sides. I believe in my rights as a woman but why is this a feminist issue? It’s not. At least not for me. Infidelity doesn’t only happen to women. A woman had a part to play in it. My husband did not to do this to me because of my gender. If only these well meaning, strong, and passionate women could understand what I know – Green’s infidelity does not reflect on me.
Finally I was read an article on Everyday Feminism, My Husband Had an Affair, the article is good and I encourage women to read it – you don’t have to be a feminist, I swear. Points I took away that I really found helpful in dealing with my pride as a person, a woman, a mother and a wife:
I’m not like my parents. I don’t think divorce is never an option.
But, I’m not like my girlfriend either. I don’t think divorce is the only option.
I thank feminism for making it legal for me to divorce. That doesn’t mean that in order to thank my feminist foremothers I have to get a divorce.
As with my parenting philosophy, people can do bad things and not be bad people.
If my husband were an alcoholic, drug addict, or gambling addict, he wouldn’t be expected to recover and heal in a vacuum. No one would look at me as weak for helping him overcome his mistakes.
Keeping the silence ensures that people will always think “it couldn’t happen to me” and never take the preemptive steps to affair-proof their marriage.
And, even when they are unavoidable, it perpetuates the idea that divorce is the only outcome unless you have a religious pressure forcing you to stay.
You have a 44% chance of your husband having an affair and 25% chance of your wife having an affair. You only have a 23% chance of him and 20% of her dying from cancer.
(Hah! I almost copied the whole article. It was that good.)
I don’t know if the anonymous author’s marriage survived but I thank her for writing it. It makes it so much easier to accept, this bitter diet of pride, that I had been consuming. Reading someone else’s feelings helps me feel resolute in my choice to try to work it out. Perhaps its not the pride I have to consume but perhaps its time that I fed that pride in being the good person that I know I am. Perhaps I should rebuild my self-esteem and be proud of the person I am becoming in spite of my husbands infidelity. I should be proud of the compassionate person I know I have always been that makes me a GOOD WIFE, MOTHER, FRIEND AND DAUGHTER. And if it doesn’t work who did I hurt? What was the cost? More of my own pride? Well that’s a cost I can afford because I am doing none of this out of revenge, martyrdom or ill placed validation. I’d rather try than look back at my life, at Green, and know that I tried than quickly give up when others said I should have more “pride” and regret that I had not stuck it out.