From an email: “My wife cheated. I played detective, saw the phone bills, followed her, found out. She confessed and said it wouldn’t happen again but I can’t get over it. What do I do?”
Many years ago a girl I was going out with got pregnant. She was devastated. She wouldn’t return my calls and finally I went over her house. She wouldn’t let me in the house. We took a walk and she was crying and she told me she was pregnant. I thought I was in love with her. I would’ve had the baby. I would’ve done anything for her. When we were sitting down on a park bench she was crying. I kept asking her what was wrong. People were looking over at us like I was about to hit this crying girl and maybe they needed to jump into the action.
She told me she didn’t know who the father was. She went over the times and it could’ve been this other guy. She had cheated on me when I had been on a trip.
My entire world turned upside down. I didn’t know who she was. Who I was. I felt like I had been played for a fool. I had been played for a fool. I was such a fool. To be chasing her. And I suddenly went over every night where she might’ve been out. When I was busy doing something. When I didn’t stay over. Every moment, every second of every day. The time I saw her walking around the block. The time I ran into her on the other side of town. So many missing jigsaw pieces. Again and again. She was pregnant but I needed to go over the details again and again. I told her not to do anything. I told her. to. do. nothing.
Slow it down. I just needed to process what was going on.
She disappeared for a week. And when she next called me she told me she had had an abortion. She was crying. “Please see me.” And she wanted to get back together.
And you know what? We did. We went out for another six months. And every day I wanted to know where she was in all the minutes she wasn’t with me. Every day I wanted answers. I wanted to know why, how, who, what. I wanted to spy on her. I did spy on her. I wanted to go out with other women to get back at her. I wanted to kill myself sometimes. I felt so miserable.
And finally SHE couldn’t take it. She broke up with me.
A few months ago I went to a meeting at a new hotel in NY. Some guys were raising money for a movie. I was curious about it. I met them. I walk in there and for the first time in years I saw. Her. Serving coffee. I felt like I recognized her but I couldn’t quite place her and I started walking over while smiling. She saw me and turned red and then smiled back. I realize who it was and I panicked. I just turned around and walked outside. I stood outside for ten minutes. It must”ve been the end of her shift because a few minutes later I saw her leave the hotel with her coat on.
When I went back into the meeting I told these guys, who I had never met before, what had just happened. The coincidence.
One of them said, “you’re lucky you got out of that mess.”
And yet, I never did. You never get out of the mess. The trauma of betrayal is stamped on you forever. Not only that, the betrayal would never have occurred if I had not been a jerk in many ways. If I had not been so inattentive. If I had not made my own crazy maze that I got lost inside of. It always takes two to create a betrayal.
But now you have to look at that betrayal, and yours, in the face of every new relationship you have. It’s like a discerning and critical grandmother who sits on your shoulder and has to approve every new relationship. No more games, I thought to myself, with any new relationship. And yet I still got into games. Many games. Too many games. Until finally the games were over. The games had frayed me to the bone. Could I have somehow made it work. Or made any of the relationships in between work? Maybe. Who knows.
I don’t know why I tell you this. Except to say right now I’m the happiest I’ve ever been.