Tag Archives: infidelity

To Let It Be

I turned to my friend and announced: “Resistance is what causes most of our suffering.”

This was off the back of a weekend spent in bed, sick and alone, while the sun shone, radio DJs played dance music to prepare us all for a fun Saturday night out, and my Facebook friends posted pictures of forest walks and ice creams in Dun Laoghaire.

I knew I was feeling sorry for myself. And I knew I had a lot to be thankful for. I wasn’t battling cancer. I hadn’t lost my home to a hurricane. And I wasn’t counting pennies to see if I’d be able to put food on the table.

But I was sick. And the weekend blazed sunnily through the windows. And there were no more dark chocolate covered rice cakes in the house.

And I was face-slappingly, heartbreakingly alone.

The thing is, I could have asked for help. In fact, one friend asked me if I needed anything. I replied honestly that I didn’t. There was nothing that I needed. And I didn’t want anyone to have to cancel their plans for me. I wanted people to be with me because they wanted to be there.

So I spent two days at home alone. Between sleeping, blowing my nose and weeping over my aloneness, I delved into Cheryl Strayed’s wonderful book Wild.

Cheryl had gone through some really tough times. Her father was abusive and her mother died of cancer. After Cheryl’s marriage broke down due to her infidelities and use of heroin, Cheryl took on an extraordinary journey in order to become the woman her mother saw in her. Cheryl hiked over a thousand miles alone on the epic Pacific Crest Trail.

“I felt more alone than anyone in the whole wide world,” Cheryl admitted. Later, she reasoned: “Maybe I was more alone than anyone in the whole wide world. Maybe that was okay.”

I lay in bed reading but it felt like I joined Cheryl as she sweated up mountains, grew blisters, lost toenails, and crossed paths with deer, bears and rattlesnakes. I walked alongside her as she raged into the wilderness, carrying a giant rucksack which she aptly named Monster. 

Before Cheryl set off on this amazing trek, somebody told her that the father’s job is to teach his children how to be warriors, “to give them the confidence to get on the horse and ride into battle when it’s necessary to do so.” She said that if you don’t get that from your father, you have to teach yourself. This woman predicted:

“There will come a time when you’ll need to get on your horse and ride into battle and you’re going to hesitate. You’re going to falter. To heal the wound your father made, you’re going to have to get on that horse and ride into battle like a warrior.”

I could relate to the burden Cheryl bent beneath. As she emptied a lifetime of sadness and anger into the wild, I too allowed myself to heal and release. And when Cheryl didn’t think she could go any further, I championed her as she walked on anyway. Her strength and determination humbled me as she completed a miraculous journey back to self. Cheryl finished her memoir with the words:

“How wild it was, to let it be.”

How wild it would be, to let everything be as it is. Without trying to change it. Without resisting what is. Without wishing things were different. Without wondering and worrying, regretting and replaying.

So this evening, I turned to my friend and said:

“Resistance is what causes most of our suffering.” 

And she retorted:

“Thinking is what causes most of our suffering.”

She went on to describe her morning. How she had spent time sweeping up leaves. My friend, like all of us, has plenty to think about, but she didn’t think. She swept.

She watched the leaves swirling in the wind. She felt the brush in her hands. And she listened to the sound of the bristles as she swept.

Tonight in bed, I notice that I am curled up tight, thinking. It hits me that I’ve probably spent most of my life thinking. Not living. Not experiencing. Not being. I’ve spent most of my life in my head. Thinking.

This is my life, I realise. And I want to be present to it. So I resolve to climb out of my head and into my heart. To be in my body. To feel. To experience. To live. To be present. To be open. To simply be.

A vision of my friend sweeping leaves floats into my consciousness. I relax into the bed. I can almost hear the bristles flicking onto the pathway, as the leaves dance in disobedience.

How wild it would be, to let it be.

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A Conversation without Words

Her arms are crossed tight over her chest. Her eyes flash. He takes a step back. His eyes dart from side to side. Her lip is curled back so her teeth are bared. I take a step back too even though I know she can’t see me.

The wind takes up her hair before whipping it back into her face. She brushes it away with her knuckles. He tries to speak but his mouth remains a perfect O as she raises her hand and smacks him across the face. He watches the ground. He doesn’t turn the other cheek. A single tear spills. I want to hold him, to tell him I love him, that everything will be okay, that it couldn’t be helped, that we never intended to hurt her. But I shouldn’t be here so I watch on in silence.

Her hands fly up to her mouth and she begins to shake and sob. He moves towards her. She utters one word, which freezes him in place. Finally, she allows him to speak. He talks and talks, streams of words I wish I could hear. She sinks down on the step and lowers her face to her hands. He looks around before gently sitting beside her. She doesn’t look up. Is she crying? I can’t tell.

He edges slightly closer. Soon, his thigh is pressing against hers and he puts his arm around her. Her head falls onto his chest. Her whole body shakes. Her face is wet and red and all scrunched up. I feel upset for her, at what we’ve done, at the line we’ve dared to cross. But it will all work out for the best. You can’t help who you fall in love with.

My eyes are drawn to his fingers as he moves them towards her face. He tilts up her chin with his big hand. He says something. She won’t look at him. He says something else. There is an urgency in the set of his face, in his eyes, his eyebrows, his mouth. She looks up slowly, then his face is on hers. Their mouths clash and push open. Their hands are in each other’s hair, on each other’s faces, in each other’s clothes.

It ends as suddenly as it’s begun. She pushes him, gets up and runs. This time, it is he who puts his face in his hands. I don’t move towards him. I cannot embrace him now. I walk away.

Sometime later – it could be an hour or a quarter of a day – he lets himself into my apartment. I hear him trudging up the hallway. My breath locks. He enters the living room, eyes downcast. “How did it go,” I can’t help asking. “It was hard but it’ll be okay. She’ll get over it.”

I stare into his face. I look at his lips – the ones that have kissed hers and mine and hers again. His left cheek is redder than his right. I stare and stare. I have nothing more to say to him.

Guilt: pleasure’s predictable sequel

From the colourful spectrum of human emotions, guilt is one of the darkest, most uncomfortable, and most destructive. Guilt sneaks up on you like the ghost of an uneasy dream but you’ll sense its presence in the way your chest flounders beneath its heavy weight.

Much like worry, guilt is a pretty superfluous emotion. Maybe it’ll stop you from performing a certain guilt-inducing activity again but, more than likely, like some masochistic idiot, you will do these things again, thus welcoming guilt back into your life like a bittersweet drug habit. Guilt sure makes you feel bad but it doesn’t stop you from snapping at your loved ones, reaching for that large bag of Maltesers, or, instead of going to college, lounging in your pyjamas all day as you consume an entire season of Grey’s Anatomy.

“Unhealthy guilt is an autoimmune disease of the soul that causes us to literally reject our own worth as human beings.” Joan Borysenko

Guilt is a sticky subject. Should we discuss how to deal with guilt or should we simply avoid the activities that lead to this unwelcome emotion? If you have a propensity towards feeling guilty, then most anything you do will cause you some level of this ugly emotion. So, when guilt comes knocking at your door, here’s what to do:

1) Don’t punish yourself further

Okay, so you cheated on your partner/skipped class/ate all the pies/drank too much, but this awful feeling should be enough punishment. Guilt affects you physically and robs you of any enjoyment. You have two options: you can decide never to do these things again, or you can accept that what’s done is done and that feeling guilty about it isn’t going to change anything. So, make peace with yourself and with anyone you may have hurt along the way.

2) Accept it

Accept that this is how you’re feeling right now. It will pass. Don’t fight it or it will tighten its grasp over you. If you stand still with it, you’ll simply slip out of its clutches, relatively unharmed.

3) Don’t run from it

Confront this cunning emotion head on. As it sprays you with its familiar but overpowering perfume, inhale it. Pick out the individual scents and explore how they make you feel. If you do this, you’ll be able to work out why you’re feeling this way and what you can do about it.

4) Question it

Now’s the time to interrogate this crafty mofo. Why are you here? What do you want from me? More than likely, it’ll give you the info you’re seeking. And then you can throw it by the wayside. If you cheated on your beautiful, caring wife, ask yourself why. If you can’t stop your late night bingeing, consider the emotions you’re trying to bury. If you continue with your Call of Duty marathons instead of attending class, maybe this course isn’t for you. Or maybe you can’t get over the label of “lazy so-and-so” your mother attached to you. Or you’re terrified of failure. The only reason we feel bad is to direct us towards change. But it’s too easy to get stuck in the emotion. So, allow it to wash over you, then ask why it’s there.

5) Ignore it

If, after accepting and questioning it, the guilt still persists, ignore it. Like an attention-seeking toddler, it just wants you to fuss over it. But if you ignore it, it’ll get bored, stop its fake wails, and move on to some other poor sucker.

Guilt is one of those bad feelings that will eat away at your insides if you allow it to do so. If you dwell on the “shoulds” or “shouldn’t haves”, you’re just feeding it, giving it more energy, and allowing it to grow. Treat guilt like an important but annoying visitor. Be polite, hand it a cuppa, and chat to it for a while, but if you make the mistake of offering it a meal, a bed, and your undivided attention, no wonder it’s not going to want to leave.

Guilt doesn’t have to be useless. Use it to learn more about yourself. It’s only when you dwell on the guilt that it’ll immobilise you. And recognise when you’re feeling guilty over something that’s not worth worrying about. Don’t take life so seriously. Give yourself permission to indulge in your guilty pleasures. Just don’t wallow in the guilt.

Lady Gaga music videos are just one of my guilty pleasures: 

Infidelity: Guilty kisses and confessions

I was 20 years old and I was at a college dance. Without my boyfriend of two weeks. I was wearing the lovely blue dress that I should have worn to the Debs that I hadn’t attended. This was like a second chance for Cinderella to shine at the ball. As I danced and drank and laughed with friends, a very good-looking guy kept approaching me. Complimenting me. Trying to kiss me. And I kept turning him down. Until the temptation became too much. The magic of the night where I was the princess of the ball with the most handsome prince pursuing me. And then he kissed me. And I let him. Of course, I felt awful. Guilty. Bad for my new fella. Okay, we’d only been together two weeks. And I had only just hit my twenties. But I still cried when I went home and confessed my sins to a surprised mother.

Infidelity affects many people. Some are the perpetrators, others the victims. But usually both parties suffer. I know because I’ve lived both sides.

I was seeing a guy for a few months but we weren’t “committed to each other”. His words. This still didn’t stop me falling for him. I was in denial about my ability to take things casually but I guess I was secretly hoping that he’d realise his love for me. And I definitely didn’t think he’d be with anyone else. Not while he was seeing me at least. Until one night, in a club, I saw him lean in to kiss a girl at the bar. As difficult as it was to witness, I believe everything happens for a reason. I was supposed to see that. Even though it was a shock and it hurt and I walked home alone in the rain that night, I had to see it to realise that he wasn’t serious about me, and that he didn’t respect me. His “infidelity” forced me to finally cut him out of my life and move on.

There are some who will argue that men and women shouldn’t even be in monogamous relationships, that it’s just not in our nature as human beings to live and mate together for life. And maybe they’re right. But even if that is the case, we’re so used to living in a society where marriage is the finish line we’re all hoping to cross, and infidelity is a huge breach of trust. Infidelity causes total heart-break and, more often than not, brings relationships to a tear-jerking halt.

Someone close to me learned of her boyfriend’s infidelity at 3am one fateful morning when she was rudely awoken by the phone ringing. Between tears, regret, and declarations of love, he confessed that he’d been with someone else. She was devastated. Ultimately though, I think he suffered more. Partly due to the humiliation of her pouring a large Coke over his head in front of the whole town the following day, but mostly due to the fact that he loved her and wanted her back. And that never happened.

So, whether you’re the cheater or the cheated on, infidelity is a tough one to get through. Here are some tips…

1) Look on it as a blessing

The infidelity could be a sign that you and your other half really shouldn’t be together any more. Learning of an infidelity is the blessing in disguise you badly needed to kick this thing to the kerb.

2) Get revenge

This one’s for the cheatees. My friend felt at least marginally better after almost drowning her former flame in a soft drink. Another girl I know texted, “I hate you!” before dumping all of her ex’s stuff on the street. Closure comes in many forms. I think the best form of revenge is simply living the most wonderful life possible. Concentrate on yourself, your wants and needs and happiness. Soon, you’ll be so absorbed in living a life that you love, that you’ll forget you ever liked that shady so-and-so in the first place.

3) To tell or not to tell

For the cheaters, you now have the dilemma of whether or not to disclose your behaviour to your partner. You may want to be brave and own up. After all, honesty is very important for any healthy relationship. Or you may feel that baring all would actually be selfish. It may relieve you of the burden of guilt but it will more than likely devastate your other half and possibly end the relationship. Alternatively, you could take Shaggy’s advice and insist, “It wasn’t me!” 

4) Think insecurity

The thought of your other half with someone else is unbearable. It can bring out feelings of betrayal and insecurity. Why have they chosen to be with someone other than you? Are you not enough? This is not the case. When I kissed that twenty-something college boy, I still wanted to be with my boyfriend. I still found him sweet and attractive. But I was immature and insecure enough to let that feeling of being desired by someone take over. So, if you’ve just been cheated on, call him/her an insecure f*ckface (preferably to their face) and move on.

Infidelity is not the end of the world. And despite how you’re probably feeling right now, there is nothing wrong with you. You will get over it. This will either put an end to something that was coming to its best before date anyhow, or it will make you realise that this one is worth the work. I don’t know if this will make you feel better or worse but infidelity is actually very common. On the bright side, if your partnership is based more on mutual respect, love, and independence, and less on control, jealousy and possessiveness, you’ve got nothing to worry about.

Heart-break: when your other half leaves, are you just 50 per cent there?

You know that moment when you’ve lost someone. It’s in their eyes. The way they don’t look at you. And suddenly, your hand on their neck feels unwelcome. The sweet name you’re about to call them sticks in your throat. That person is no longer there for you.

He’s driving me home. Doing the right thing. He’s not a bad person. But he’s got many issues and for that, I know it’s for the best that it’s over. But logic and heart ache reside in two separate parts of the body and I can’t reconcile the two. Not yet.

When it’s over, I return to my apartment. I walk from room to room. We danced to Mumford and Sons on the radio right here. He wrapped himself in my blanket there. We ate a fry at that table. We bathed here and washed each others’ hair.

Then, there’s the bedroom. I sink onto the bed and find a dark hair on the sheet. The pillow smells of him. The tears come now.

I want him to take this pain away. But he’s not here for me any more. I have to do this myself.

Here’s how to survive heart-break:

1. Grieve the loss

I’ve found myself sobbing on the bedroom floor for more than one break up. I’ve mourned the loss of the dark-eyed, curly-headed children that my ex-husband and I would now never have. A friend of mine walked around her house wailing for three nights straight. It may seem excessive, uncomfortable and annoying for your flat mates or family but just get it out.

2. Talk it out

With family. With friends. Go for coffee/dinner/drinks. Your loved ones are bound to make you laugh, point out what a dick head he was anyway, and tell you how amazing you are. That’s not gonna hurt.

3. Go on a night out

Get all dolled up. Have a laugh with your friends. Get tipsy. Get chatted up. Maybe even kiss a guy. After any break up, my cousin used to ask me, “Have you erased him yet?” Meaning: “Have you kissed another guy yet, which will erase the last guy?” Easier said than done. And sometimes being with a new guy will just make you miss your last one even more. But just know that you’re desirable and there is hope for the future.

Drinking a lot may seem like a great idea at the time. But the next day, the blues could hit you even harder than before. Just be aware that it’s the alcohol and sleep it off as best you can.

4. Stop all contact

I’ve fallen into being friends with an ex, which does not help you get over the guy. You’re constantly being reminded of him, and maybe secretly hoping that he’ll realise you’re “the one”. I removed my last ex as a friend on Facebook, then bawled my eyes out. It was so final. But better in the long run.

5. Holiday!

Think Shirley Valentine or Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Nothing like sunshine and a totally foreign location to get a new perspective on things. Even having a break to look forward to will beat off the post relationship depression.

6. Read A New Earth by Eckart Tolle

This might seem really specific but it worked for me. This book has changed many lives. The way Mr Tolle speaks about the ego, identification, attachment, love and relationships is revelational.

If you’re madly in love, beware. We’ve all grown up with certain ideas about love that come from sickly sweet romantic comedies and slit-your-wrist love songs. We’re all familiar with declarations such as “I can’t live if living is without you” and “You complete me”. No wonder when a relationship ends, we doubt we’ll survive.

The truth is, if we love ourselves and are happy with our lives, the loss of a person, though disappointing, should not turn our world completely upside down. This might be strange or hard for a lot of you to read but the way Eckhart Tolle describes being “in love” makes a lot of sense. He talks about being in love with someone because they fit into the categories you want from a partner. They’re tall, dark and handsome. Or maybe you’re just in a good mood. Have you ever felt really happy and then proclaimed your love for someone? I know I have. It had more to do with how I was feeling than my love for that person. Eckhart Tolle also says that the Spanish way of saying “I love you” (“Te quiero“) literally translates as “I want you”, which is far more honest. You want that person for yourself. You want to control how they behave. And then when you lose that control, love can so easily turn into hate. If your partner does something you don’t like, you can despise them in moments. They cheat on you. They don’t love you any more. They leave you.

If you’re having problems with heart ache, read this book. It’ll change the way you think about love and about life in general. Check out Eckhart Tolle TV for some clips of the man himself speaking…

7. List of cons

My sister told me to write a list of all the reasons why you and your ex are not good together, all the shitty things he’s done to you, how his willy is tiny, etc. If Eckhart Tolle is too spiritual for ya, at least this list will give you a bit of a kick.

8. Remember other exes

This sounds dangerous but when I broke up with my last partner, I remembered how bad I felt when I ended things with previous exes and how, now, I couldn’t give a shit about them. I am so over them. Which means I will be so over this guy soon. Time is a great healer. And if you follow rule number four, it’ll happen sooner rather than later.

If this was your first love, talk to others who’ve been through heart-break before. Know you’re not alone in this. And look at them now as they have fun being single or are happy out in their new relationships.

Check out this video of the hilarious Flight of the Conchords. Laughter really is the best medicine…

Everyone suffers heart ache at some point. Whether it’s the loss of a loved one to death or divorce, to circumstances or someone else, it hurts like hell. But we can survive it. And when we start a new relationship with someone better and much more suitable, who treats you as you deserve, you won’t regret a moment of the heart-break you’ve gone through. It will be worth it.