Shadows and Shame

21 Nov

In my last post I wrote about Betsy, Green’s aunt (through marriage) who is going through a divorce due to her husband’s infidelities. Unlike a lot of other cheating husbands, Eddie, Green’s oldest uncle is a cold hearted jerk.  He is unrepentant, is arrogant, has a million excuses about why he chose to cheat on his wife instead of dealing with his issues.

comforting-woman3What I am struggling with is how do I respond to it.  As someone who has ‘been there and done that’ should I reach out to Betsy, let her know that I understand what she is going through?  Or should I shut the hell up?  I am surely no expert on healing after infidelity but I do empathize with her.  Being a betrayed spouse is an awfully lonely place to be.

Honestly, she and I aren’t very close although she is my favorite of Green’s aunt’s because she is very nice, super friendly and just generally a good person. (Seems like all us betrayed wives are, huh?!)  Truly though, in a lot of ways Betsy and I are lot alike.  Daughters of Latino immigrants, bucking the Catholic tradition of marrying young and having loads of children instead we went to college and were in many case the first in our families to emerge as driven professional women.  Finally I guess we were greedy… we wanted it all – a good career, a loving husband, great kids….. And then, whoops, in come comes infidelity!

Seriously though… this family of Green’s is messed up. His dad cheated on his mom.  This same dad was an absentee dad.  All of the men and women in Green’s fathers side of the family had marriages end in infidelity.  Even his Grandparents. Yikes. Before our own dealing with infidelity it was something that bothered Green.  He of course would turn out to be a hypocrite.  I told Green, once, in the midst of a fight before we had reconciled that he was just like his dad – a liar, a cheat, and dead beat dad who abandoned his kids for some good times.  I know that comment hit him hard when I said it. I don’t regret it.  Green needed to hear that said out loud.

So… back to Betsy. Sorry about that… triggers and all.

silent suffering strengthI just wonder if I should reach out to her. My situation is a bit different from hers. My kids are little. Her kids are grown. Green and I are trying to reconcile and move forward.  Eddie seems intent on moving on in the divorce to be free to be with his girlfriends.  Betsy doesn’t seem interested in reconciling and seems OK with that as a resolution. Well at least she seems like she is keeping it together.

Besty has most of the ‘family’ support… well except for Granny Imelda, her mother in law and Eddies mother, who is sticking by her cheating son.   She even banished Tamara from the family Thanksgiving next week because Tamara wouldn’t exclude Betsy from the wedding activities.  None of Betsy’s and Eddie’s kids are invited over to her Christmas dinner because they stopped speaking to their father when he stopped speaking to them for taking their mothers side in the divorce (Jerk face won’t move out of the house because he wants her to sell… she refuses.)  Jeez, there is nothing the evilness of the mothers of cheating sons! Drives me nuts!  We are not attending either function in solidarity with her and her children… Green’s cousins.

I just remember that a little bit ago, over, the writer (I don’t know her name) speaks about Lifting the veil of taboo on the subject of infidelity. I agreed with a lot what she wrote.

Like her,

I am proud of my marriage surviving infidelity.

Yes, we’re not fully healed but we’re not dead either.

Like a cancer the disease knocked us down… but I for one got back up. 

However, no one wants to hear that success story in public.  To greater society surviving and overcoming infidelity is not something we promote.  Why not?

I feel sometimes, when I hear people discuss infidelity, that they discuss it in black and white.

  • A marriage/relations either ends or it doesn’t.
  • If the marriage/relationship ends the cheater is snickered at and the betrayed is seen sympathetic, but yes, they are a victim.

The characters involved are often always very shallow.

  • The cheater is a scumbag.
  • The betrayed is sympathetic but 1) he/she must have not satisfied the cheater in bed, 2) the betrayed must have been either a wimp or a shrew and/or 3) they were never REALLY happy because “infidelity doesn’t happen in good marriages.”

Those who have never had to endure infidelity sure have it easy.  I know I used to look at it through the same black and white lens.  Marriage is unfortunately not a land of unicorns and rainbows… it’s hard.

That being said, I don’t want to reach out to Betsy and say, “Hey suck it up… I did! This can be fixed!”  Because clearly in her situation it cannot.  I do want to be supportive, however. I want her to know that she is not alone and that I don’t see her as a victim, I don’t see her as anything but as an amazing person who happened to have lost the faithfulness of her husband who at one time, I believe, truly and deeply loved her.  I want to validate for her that this ended marriage is not Betsy’s fault.  Eddie is flawed, immature and narcissistic.   Betsy made no mistake in marrying him.  Her children and granddaughter are NOT mistakes.  Eddie, instead, made THE mistake of not reinvesting in his marriage when he sought validation outside of it.  He is further making it worse by taking out his guilt on his kids and his wife.

But then there is my risk.  If I tell then I risk her hating Green.  I risk her thinking I am a victim or weak. I risk that she might tell others and on that side of the family, Green’s father’s side, they don’t know that we were even separated much less on the verge of a divorce because of his infidelity! (Yeah, we hid it very well.)    It was just so painful I don’t know that I could deal with again.  We lost a lot of friendships over this and several relationships are damaged forever.  Family, my relationship with my mother in law, is very strained because of her taking Green’s side.  This risk of not talking about it… to protect myself, to protect Green… seems like such a load of crap.  What am I hiding from? I did nothing wrong.  Well, according to some of my trolls (and “friends”): reconciling with a cheating spouse is wrong, makes me a bad wife and makes me a bad parent.

So now what?  Do I reach out to her? Do I not and just wait for her to say something… to respond if she needs help?  Like I said she seems to have it together.   Her career is strong and I think a good distraction for her. She is close to kids and grand daughter and they seem to have rallied to her side. But they have their own lives, too.  I remember the overwhelming loneliness of the time Green and I spent separated when I did not believe we would survive his infidelity.  My putting the kids to sleep. Skipping dinner because I didn’t want to feel like a loser by eating alone. The hollow feeling of an large empty house.  Imagining Green being with her.  My empty bed. His filled with my replacement.  It’s a terrible feeling.

It’s just such a crummy situation.  Infidelity shouldn’t happen to anyone but least of all, it shouldn’t happen to good people.

You’d think for those of us who survived it… we’d get a little pat on the back, right? Some reward. Some praise.

Instead of pity and shame.


10 Responses to “Shadows and Shame”

  1. bombladoze November 21, 2013 at 7:39 pm #

    i think you should reach out if you feel the need. you dont have to be all like, hey, these cheaters aye… just make it casual, i dunno, ‘i liked what you said/did/wore at the wedding’ or just make something up ‘green said you have a really good lawnmower/car/washing machine (lol) and im looking for a new one can i come check yours out?’ (hey those are actual reasons i get people calling me/coming over for!) and go from there… i very much doubt she will judge your choices…

    ive completely avoided family through all of this and it sucks… im thinking, these holidays, im going to go do the things… i had hoped we would be in a better place by now, you know, that i would at least to be able to say definitively, were working it out… i dunno… these people see right through me lol and i cant even attempt to tell a lie these days. damnit. i just dont wanna get all hugged and fussed over and end up spilling my guts. kim trying to keep it together ya know!

    • Flaca November 21, 2013 at 8:23 pm #

      I like the casual approach! Never occurred to me that I don’t have to be so heavy handed about it. Thanks!

      • bombladoze November 21, 2013 at 8:37 pm #

        Well, you may have to admit at some point that it was all a ruse! Haha but I’m sure she will appreciate it anyway 🙂

      • Flaca November 21, 2013 at 9:28 pm #

        She actually remodeled her kitchen. I need to do the same with mine. I’ll ask for some tip. So then it won’t be a ruse! 😉

  2. NairobiGirl November 21, 2013 at 8:28 pm #

    Hi Flaca … .greetings from Nairobi! I have never posted but your blog has been a place of refuge for me over the last year. Thank you for giving a voice to women like me who infidelity literally knocked over and are struggling to stay afloat.

    Me thinks you should reach out to Betsy. Not because she is a betrayed wife but because she is a good person. I think over time the reality of just how much you have in common will overwhelm her and let her know that she is not alone in this and you are definitely on her side as she goes through the motions of watching her marriage end. Just being there for her will mean the world to her.

    My 1st DD was May 19, 2012 and since then I have come to value my friends. Those who have been unapologetic about letting me know that they have your back irrespective of how irrational or unreasonable I have sounded or acted over the last year and a half.

    Do get Betsy a hug from all of us recovering from the infidelity – those who have walked away, those who are still in limbo and the rest of us who are trying to work on our marriages.


    • Flaca November 21, 2013 at 9:33 pm #

      Wow Nairobi!

      Thank you for your kind words. Infidelity does give one time to reflect on TRUE friends. I am glad you find some solace here. Honestly I write to free myself of it… And frankly it’s sometimes almost too embarrassing to share!

      I will reach out her. You’re right. Good people like her deserve a reminder that there is much good in the world.

      Blessings to you as well.

  3. patti November 22, 2013 at 5:38 am #

    I recently discovered your blog and want to thank you for sharing your story. It does help others – believe me. Maybe you want to reach out to Betsy, let her know you are thinking about her and there for her if she wants to talk. If she does want to talk you can tell her as much or as little about your marriage as you want. Just see what feels right at the time.

    • Flaca November 22, 2013 at 9:49 am #

      thanks Patti for your comment. I am glad that together we can help one another. I will reach out to her. Thanks again and best wishes to you.

  4. Paula November 22, 2013 at 12:11 pm #

    Flaca, love the suggestions by all here. I liken it to death. If someone loses a family member or other loved one, we need to acknowledge that. It can be hard, but I appreciated every person who made the effort to do that when my mother died very suddenly 13 years ago, at just 55. I learned how important saying something is. To not creep around NOT mentioning it, the elephant in the room. I think infidelity is like that, and as others have said, you can share, or not share, as much or as little as you feel comfortable with. It helps to hear others support you in spirit. To be less alone. I wish I had had more of that when the whole fucking town knew, and had an opinion on my partner’s affair, and MY ROLE in it, ugh.

    I also loved the way you described the view (we probably all at one time had, ha!) of the cheater and the (pathetic) betrayed. Mine says the judgement of others is tough, he doesn’t complain, only said that when I asked him, he tries to hold his head as high as is possible when you brought this on yourself, and your supposed loved ones. And I know most judge me as too pathetic for words, she kicked him out how many times, then took him back, that scumbag, what a loser she must be, God, she must be appalling in the sack/a real bitch at home/ “not good enough!” That shouldn’t matter, and I am much better at brushing off what others want to think about us, but, yeah, it does still sting at times. Friendships dissolved, I found I really had/have VERY few true friends, but there’s loads of unfound friends out there, I know this, people with souls, with hearts, without judgement and baggage to dump on me. Even more independence and strength are the gains, amongst all the losses.

  5. rkabceden January 5, 2014 at 3:51 pm #

    I hope you reached out, the worst thing about being a betrayed spouse is feeling like you are alone. I too read the “rescuing my marriage” blog on the taboo of talking about infiditlty…in my blog I use my name and in my small town my family went public. It has been hard but I believe it has made the healing easier.

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