Love, Forgiveness, and the Other Woman

2015-01-20 16.32.49Have you ever had a relationship fail because of infidelity, and want to kill the Other Woman? Want to act on those feelings of rage, rejection, hatred, and not just fantasize about it? What drives humans to these kinds of potentially evil ideas, and what part of us knows when enough is enough? When rational parts of our brain take over and keep healthy people from spending life in prison?

I spent a year and a half in a relationship with an emotionally distant man whom I adored despite the differences in our ages, taste, and background. Jason was the Bad Boy of whom mamas warn their daughters. The man whom I knew would eventually break my heart into slivers. He had married and divorced long before me; I was in the midst of with dealing with a relationship that ended in stalking and attempted break-ins. We were both broken kinds of people, and it didn’t bode well.

Jason joked more than once the only reason he’d married was because of a concussion. Truly. He had been thrown off a motorcycle while crossing a railroad, hitting his head, fracturing his helmet. He married within days. When the marriage eventually failed, Jason couldn’t remember a real reason he’d wed, other than the concussion. Not love, commitment, establishing a lifetime with his ex. Not a good sign of a man able to make a do commitment, but an excellent one of how motorcycle helmets save lives.

The two of us had a tumultuous relationship, but I adored him. Worshiped him to the point of spiritual pain. One evening Jason said he loved me, said he loved me more than any woman he’d ever known. Even his ex-wife. Somehow this gave me some false hope that we had a future, especially when he registered us as man and wife on trips.

I have to mention here that a thin vein of cruelty wandered through his psyche, and this was part of it.

My therapist at the time quit me because of Jason. Vocally got up and shook me during one session, and that was the last time she would see me. She could not condone the ship I’d decided to sink on, and gave me the heave-ho. With her clinical eye and training, Jason and I were a lost cause. Infatuation will out, reason will be shirked, but human nature would prevail. Despite the spiritual and emotional pain, remember I adored him.

Sometime during the end stage of my relationship with him, he contritely confessed he’d been unfaithful with a coworker. I’d known he would disappear at times, knew he intentionally excluded me from his work or social gatherings, and it hurt like the slice of a knife into flesh. Over and over I let him do it because of fear and infatuation. I knew he’d had opportunity and time to be unfaithful, but he’d told me he loved me, as a placeholder in my heart. He was sorry, there was no doubt, and was shocked when I confessed that beating me would’ve hurt less than cheating.

How would beating you be right? How could that hurt less? Jason asked incredulously, which a healthy reaction to my unhealthy statement.

Bruises and bones heal, but I don’t know if my heart can, I stupidly told him. I meant it. I was mentally far gone in an extremely unhealthy relationship. My father beat my mother, so domestic abuse wasn’t a stranger. Dad never broke any of my mom’s bones that I’d known of, but still used his massive hands on a tiny, fragile woman. He was unfaithful, so there was another commonality. Here were two things I swore as a Feminist that I’d never tolerate: physical abuse or cheating, yet there they suddenly were. The second generation for me, but Jason was not my father’s type and was into passive aggression instead of beating women. His cruelty left no physical, outward scars, never raised a hand to me.

The woman Jason cheated with stayed hopeful, even after he swore to me that they were over. When I finally yielded him up out of depression and hopelessness months later, she immediately stepped in, and they took up publicly.

Months passed, and I got my shit together, ignored the urge to stalk him, made myself proud for letting him go for my sake. I felt great; even happy. Then a mutual friend of Jason’s and mine stuck her nose in where it hadn’t belonged and undid everything. Or I should say I let her undo the healing. Apparently Jason and Tuppy had never entirely severed their relationship, and I never had a chance.

I well and truly suddenly hated Tuppy, and just as determinedly she tried to force me to like her. Every time we crossed paths, she loomed over me like a grinning Amazon, seeking to make small talk while Jason looked on with a bemused look. As well he should have. Mutual friends assured me that she was sweet, kind, and just what he needed, thank you very much. They seemed happy, triumphal, which made the knife in my heart twist that much harder.

My now retired psychiatrist had told me it was okay to fantasize about killing someone who’d hurt you; just do not act on it. My former favorite fantasy had been running over my ex-husband as he walked to work, but of course, I’d never act on it. Years later when someone did that to her husband here in Houston, I felt nauseated and shocked. She acted out her fantasy, but mine was just venting steam.

With Tuppy, I fantasized about doing horribly bad things in revenge. Nothing gruesome, but awfully satisfying. There’s a lonely stretch of marshland near Bayou Manchac that’s a perfect place for dumping bodies. Now this was laughable because Tuppy is a large woman, and I couldn’t have picked her up without a forklift, never mind try to stuff her body in a car trunk, if I had one. I had a minuscule Honda CRX at the time which had no backseat, and a body would’ve been conspicuous in the rear window. (No Alfred Hitchcock reference intentionally here.) This kind of spiritual poison only makes life worse, and the happy couple would’ve cared less. Why was I wasting time with this type of crap when a real life was out there? No, those two weren’t worthy of another precious minute lost.

One afternoon after having endured more forced friendliness by Tuppy, I had enough. She once again joyfully all but had me cornered in a women’s locker room, and it was the last freaking straw. Last one. I started off by saying everyone called her sweet and friendly, which was hard for me to believe. The smile faded a bit from her face. Good. Told her a soft and sweet woman wouldn’t go after another’s boyfriend like she had. More smile was fading. Told her Jason had said he’d never loved anyone as much as he loved me, then turned around and cheated. I left her to mull that future out in her head and walked out of the locker room, passing Jason, who looked pretty worried. Excellent.

Yes, that locker room confrontation was juvenile and sad, but I needed closure. Needed her to stop pretending to befriend, but enjoying making me unhappy. Needed her to know, in her great joyful Golden Retriever demeanor, she would never charm or happy me into liking or accepting her. It finally penetrated her brain that day. Thank God. Less messy, more legal than murder and heaving an enormous carcass off a highway overpass. Of course, that little encounter earned me a bigger bitch reputation when she repeated it to friends and acquaintances, but the lesson had taken. Do not freaking mess with me despite all my Southern upbringing; I am Irish and scary. I will not lie down and have the vapors. Do not mess with that’s mine, because I’m Irish and can be quite frightening, and I will not take it well.

In my life, I was ultimately the winner of the relationship with Jason, and acknowledge that dear Tuppy did me a big favor. It took a near tragic car accident for me to change enough, to be whole enough, to date real men. In the seconds, before I saw death coming, mercy was begged, change promised. When it was all over, and I was safely back home in NOLA, I took a deep breath and made those changes. The hurts that boiled inside me, made me feel bitter and alone, were made irrelevant after that accident. Apathy took over towards people who hurt me in the past. Hope and joy finally were able to squeeze in, and I wanted them hard enough to change myself.

Two weeks after my accident I started dating Dan, and I knew he was the one. I adore a loving, handsome, sweet, faithful man who treats me like a queen. Who gave me two gorgeous sons and whom I love with every breath. The life I dreamed of has come through, a realistic and beautiful life not taken for granted.

The past hurts you’ve been dealt only have power if you surrender. Relinquish the pain, shove it away and grasp joy and hope. It’s not easy, it doesn’t happen without work. It doesn’t happen without patience and forgiveness. I do know from my life that it’s worth it.

Why I’m Going to See Fifty Shades of Grey

Oh wait, I don’t have to explain why. No excuses. I get that people believe the writing’s not good, that it’s “mommy porn”, that it’s an inadequate representation of BDSM. I get that a lot of people don’t enjoy sex that way. That it objectifies women. Honey, I grew up when my mother’s generation was burning bras, Cosmopolitan was a dirty new magazine, and women were marching in the street for equal rights, equal pay. I lived that. Even in middle school in a tiny north Louisiana town I was sporting feminism stickers on my trumpet case. If boys gave me trouble about playing a musical instrument thought masculine, I hit them with that case. Hard. I was not taking shit from anyone. Not a middle-aged male band director, not pubescent boys who taunted me, not even when they challenged my status or took it away.

I was not taking shit from anyone.

I was told girls can’t do this, girls can’t do that all the time. Napoleonic Law in Louisiana said a woman’s husband had the legal right to walk into her employer’s office and demand her paycheck.

There’s a good reason why porn and women’s erotic romances are hugely popular in the Bible Belt, especially since the advent of e-readers. Sexual repression or perception of being branded “slutty”, “whorish”, etc., is a big deal here. But now we can download whatever we want, when we want, from whomever we want. No more hiding dicey paperback novels behind a quaint fabric cover so our children won’t find out we’re reading some juicy stuff. The Bible Belt is the source of a vast amount of  sales from online sex toy, video, and, what used to be called “marital aids.” We don’t want our neighbors and Aunt Tillie to know what kind of shit we’re into. Or our ministers.

Fifty Shades of Grey cracked that wide open and suddenly even Aunt Tillie has been reading it on the sly, but public ally condemning it. Since the book came out, more women feel freer to say what they want sexually. Most often not bondage, but to experiment and have fun without guilt.

All these people, especially writer friends of mine, condemning EL James, the book, the upcoming movie, well, everyone’s entitled to their opinion. I happen to admire James for creating a hugely successful franchise. Do I like her writing? No. Did I read all the books? Yes. Will I go see the movie? Hell, yes. They have one of the most highly paid male models in the world playing Christian Grey, Jamie Dornan, and I’ve been following him for years. When they killed off his character in “Once Upon a Time”, I wanted to put a flaming bag of puppy poo on the writers’ front porches. Kill off the sexiest man on television, IMHO, right when he was hitting his stride as a character? Nooooo! Hell, no.

I digress though.

On St. Valentine’s Day, millions of people will go see it, others will rant and rave, trying to keep others from seeing it, or condemning ticket buyers. There will be picketers and half-baked television stories, long lines, and more stupidity. The brouhaha about casting Dornan will reignite from the haters, and the blah, blah, blah will get loud and vehement. Many people will wait until Fifty Shades goes to video, then watch it until they grow hair on their palms or die shriveled in their den lounge chairs. Some will watch it furtively when family members have gone to sleep, work, or school. And sales in the Bible Belt of the video will be huge. Huge, I tell you.

Me, I’m going to see Jamie Dornan on the big screen and will dab daintily at my lips every time he smiles. That’s why I’m going. The man whose made big bucks in underwear ads, starred in The Fall, gotten killed by an evil witch on Once Upon a Time, he’s whom I’m looking forward to seeing.

The rest of you who just want to see your favorite book come to screen? Don’t let assholes ruin it for you. Don’t listen to people condemn you for reading and enjoying a book, because for God sake you’re reading something. You have the right to read what you want. If you want to borrow my trumpet case to hit someone giving you shit about Fifty Shades, be my guest.