Over the years I have received calls from friends (more women than men) who needed a shoulder to cry on, some just aching to vent. As if I had no troubles of my own. One young woman said, “Your experience in these matters will help me.” Huh? Who died and made me Dear Abby?
Discussing heart matters with someone who is hurting is never easy. How do you console a woman who thinks that her life is over?
And what do you tell a man who is disgruntled, defeated and depressed, with his ego in the wastebasket and his sense of macho shattered to smithereens? Can you imagine the audacity of that woman, slamming the door in his face? Never mind that he cheated on her. After all, he’s just a man.
The double standard sickens me. Here I am guaranteed by my years never again to worry about anybody’s machismo, but I still bristle at the idea that the gander has it all over the goose.
As much as the world seems to have changed, whenever I hear about women silently putting up with abuse from their men, I get a bit emotional.
What I find appalling is the dismissive attitude that pretends to explain: Yes, there was an affair, but no, it was not really serious. Or that it was only the first time he strayed. Someone’s lame attempt at a cop-out was: “It just happened.”
It is a choice, isn’t it, to cross the line? How can it not be serious? Will men ever have the guts to own up and be accountable?
Let me quote from “Sarah’s Key” by Tatiana de Rosnay: “When would he realize that it wasn’t his infidelity I couldn’t bear, but his cowardice?”
No matter whether it was just their first or umpteenth time under the covers, it is what it is, cheating. Dishonesty cannot hide forever behind an innocent face. It cannot be disguised as “just a passing fancy.” The penalty that follows an indiscretion may vary depending on the circumstances. But the offense is still the same.
In my mind, the decision to be unfaithful once, twice, for days and even years can only mean that love is gone.
Years ago, a man I once held in high esteem told me he was “seeing” another woman, that he was totally enamored with her, but that he had never stopped loving his wife. Excuse me? I don’t buy that.
By the way, why do they call it “seeing” someone else? Isn’t it the same as “knowing” in the biblical sense?
While it is true that a one-night stand is vastly different from a long-drawn involvement, it still boils down to the same thing: infidelity.
There is something heady and intoxicating about an illicit love affair. The lying, the scheming, the treading on dangerous ground initially heightens the excitement. It is almost like a game of hide and seek—for grownups.
Eventually, however, conscience starts getting in the way. Guilt sets in. It is painful to look in the mirror. Living a double life takes its toll. Nerves are frayed. You are in constant fear of getting caught. You can’t remember your last lie. You get careless. You trip. And soon you know what hits the fan. Game over.
Dumper and ‘dumpee’
I look back over the years and sadly see myself as a protagonist in this convoluted drama. I must confess that I have been both dumper and “dumpee.” (Is there such a word?) The saying “What goes round comes round” is painfully true.
With everything just a click away these days, even good old karma travels at cyber-speed. It used to take a generation or two for it to zero in on its target. But today, at a neck-breaking pace, you sow and indeed you reap.
Volumes have been written about why men and women are unfaithful. Forgive me if I seem to take sides, but why does the finger of blame always point to the woman?
“He was not satisfied at home, so he looked elsewhere.” “She kept nagging, so he strayed.” Sound familiar? Even in the Bible, Adam blamed Eve.
By the time you are done reading, you feel totally inadequate, unworthy of the man and deserving of his scorn.
Here is a short list of sure-fire relationship breakers. Infidelity is at the top. Next come lack of communication, possessiveness and jealousy.
One should avoid a knee-jerk reaction to these problems. Instead, we must try to restore what was lost and mend what is broken. It isn’t easy. The cracks always show.
No matter who’s to blame, it is important to remain calm and wait for the storm to pass. Ride the waves if you can. But if everything else fails and your boat starts taking in water, it may be necessary to bail or jump.
Be strong. Don’t let your anger consume you. Pick up the pieces of your life, alone if necessary.
It will be a sad and dark time for you. Despair may knock you down to your knees.
From the heart, let me say that on your knees is a good place to start. Be still. Look up. Just when you think you have lost it all, in the darkness, you will see your lifeline, His Hand. Grab it!
On another note: the Good Ship Lollipop has sailed.
Shirley Temple died a few days ago. She takes with her a chunk of my heart. Before she was 5, her talent, dimples and ringlets were legend the world over. She was an enormous part of my happy childhood. Rest in peace, and, “Fare thee well!”