For some rea­son, I’m think­ing about infi­deli­ty again. 

No, there has­n’t been any in our rela­tion­ship recently—certainly not that I know of!

But once it has hap­pened, it isn’t pos­si­ble to “for­give and for­get.” Any­body who claims to have done so is a liar.

For­giv­ing? Yes, that’s pos­si­ble. The for­get­ting isn’t.

And it’s always going to be there between you. That dam­age, that betray­al of trust—there it is.

The betrayed part­ner is always going to have that doubt in the back of her mind—is it hap­pen­ing again? Is he lying? Should I check?

Giv­ing in to the “should I check” crap is gen­er­al­ly a sign that the betrayed has got­ten com­pul­sive in some way—or that she’s sub­con­scious­ly noticed signs of infi­deli­ty again.

But dammit, it’s hard to know which is which! You can take that moral high road. “I trust him. Why would I look at his email?” And then you can get kicked in the teeth by find­ing out, yet again, that every­body but you knew he was a lying bastard.

No, I don’t read Sam’s email. I can. He’s giv­en me the pass­words to all of his accounts in the past. I don’t use them. I don’t feel a need to do so.

But do I have an occa­sion­al nasty voice whis­per­ing in the back of my mind, telling me that I SHOULD just take a look? Hell yeah.

And that kind of insid­i­ous doubt is one of the shit­ty lit­tle gifts that infi­deli­ty leaves its unwill­ing participants.

Any­one who has ever been involved with an abuse sur­vivor to any seri­ous extent will tell you that it requires even more work than usu­al to build trust. Those of us who were abused as chil­dren were betrayed so very deeply that it is HARD to trust (okay, there are those who just trust every­one and get screwed over repeat­ed­ly, but that’s the oth­er end of the spectrum).

When you put in the time and ener­gy to build that trust and then do some­thing as stu­pid as betray­ing it because you could­n’t stay away from some skanky bitch online—well, it’s even more crush­ing a betray­al to that woman who you betrayed.

BTW—yes, I con­sid­er the man involved to be skanky too. I’m not in denial about it.

Okay, now I know what got me think­ing about this. It was a dis­cus­sion of guilt by asso­ci­a­tion that came up while Katie, Sam, and I were in the car. I freely admit that I judge peo­ple by the com­pa­ny they keep. No mat­ter how good you seem, if you will­ing­ly keep com­pa­ny with dis­hon­or­able peo­ple you are taint­ed by that choice. It’s unlike­ly to mat­ter to most people—but FWIW, no, I won’t ever trust you as long as you make that kind of choice.

Yes, yes—people change. Sam has. Do I think that MOST peo­ple change? Do most peo­ple actu­al­ly do the work to make real changes? No. In my expe­ri­ence, they don’t, so I don’t count on it hap­pen­ing. I’ll believe it when I see it—and I sure as hell won’t seek out the com­pa­ny of peo­ple I’ve seen behave dis­hon­or­ably to see if just maybe they’ve changed. I don’t give sec­ond chances, as a rule.

Sam got a sec­ond (and third, and fourth) chance sole­ly because of the depth of our rela­tion­ship, and the fact that our lives and chil­dren’s lives were already so inter­twined. Had I not had Katie’s wel­fare to con­sid­er, I seri­ous­ly believe that we would­n’t be togeth­er now.

I know there were many women who cheat­ed with Sam. I know—because I did read a hell of a lot of those mes­sages and logs and so on—that they knew that he was in a com­mit­ted rela­tion­ship with me. He was very clear with them about the fact that I did not know about his rela­tion­ships with them, and that it would NOT be okay if I did know. Each of those women made a con­scious choice to hurt me. I hold every one of them respon­si­ble for those choic­es, just as I hold Sam respon­si­ble for them.

Of the four women I know per­son­al­ly, one apol­o­gized and exit­ed our lives com­plete­ly. One apol­o­gized and stuck around to heal our rela­tion­ship. One actu­al­ly tried to paint her­self as a vic­tim, then tried to claim that I was crazy. And one seems to be play­ing some kind of “let’s just not men­tion it” game, despite know­ing that I do know and that I know that she knows that I know.

The first two did behave with some class. The third? His involve­ment with her hurt me more than any of the oth­ers (espe­cial­ly since I had specif­i­cal­ly vetoed involve­ment with her BECAUSE she was a dra­ma queen, and he went ahead any­way). She has tried to claim that she’s a vic­tim and that I’m crazy/controlling/etc. The last—well, “cheap tramp” is the nicest label I can begin to think of for her. I’ve been told that she’s changed, she’s try­ing to turn her life around—that does­n’t hold any water. If she were hon­or­able, or if she had any class or actu­al desire to make up for her wrong­do­ings, she would have apol­o­gized to me, at the very least. (Note: apolo­gies received after this post goes pub­lic are utter­ly discounted.)

If you are involved with some­one who is cheat­ing on a part­ner, you are con­scious­ly choos­ing to harm that per­son­’s part­ner. Don’t both­er try­ing to can­dy-coat it. You’re cheat­ing. You’re wrong. You don’t ever get to take any kind of moral high ground about infi­deli­ty or dis­hon­esty again. Nope, you’ve lost it. And don’t both­er bitch­ing when you are cheat­ed on—you asked for it. Hel­lo, kar­ma train!

No, I’ve nev­er been tempt­ed to “pay him back” or do some tit-for-tat bull­shit. I have to live with myself, and I’m hap­py to do so with a clean con­science. Hell, some­times it feels like that’s all I have to cling to.

Will it ever real­ly be “okay” again? I wish it could. I wish that those wounds would heal. They haven’t, not com­plete­ly. I don’t know that they will. I know that I won’t do any­thing to try to remove the mem­o­ries. I had to work too damned hard to recov­er oth­er mem­o­ries in my life, and they’re all pre­cious. That’s my life. Those mem­o­ries rep­re­sent what I’ve learned, even the ones that are hor­ri­ble, harsh lessons.

I don’t trust Sam as much as I did before. That feel­ing of absolute trust with no reser­va­tions is gone for­ev­er. He threw it away, and that caus­es me to feel that he threw me away.

His choice of partners—the fact that he does­n’t even remem­ber most of them as indi­vid­u­als, that they were damned-near anony­mous and interchangeable—they make me feel dis­gust­ing and cheap by asso­ci­a­tion. It’s noth­ing spe­cial to be cho­sen by some­one who would do that. The kinds of activ­i­ties they were involved with have seri­ous­ly dam­aged my abil­i­ty to engage in some­thing that was pre­cious between us before. It isn’t spe­cial. It’s a lie.

I know that every instant mes­sage exchanged caus­es a nasty lit­tle part of me to wonder—is that anoth­er one? Is it hap­pen­ing again? How stu­pid can I be? Every excit­ed men­tion of a new female friend (and there are always lots of new female friends—the price of involve­ment with an extro­vert who just gen­uine­ly loves women) brings doubts and questions.

Is he doing any­thing wrong? Not that I know of. Do I want him to cut him­self off from oth­er women? No. It would suf­fo­cate him. He could­n’t live that way. I would­n’t ask him to. I would­n’t want to live with him try­ing to live that way.

But I don’t know that I have any for­give­ness left for betray­al. I hope I don’t ever have to find out.

Cur­rent Mood: 🙁sad
Cyn is Rick's wife, Katie's Mom, and Esther & Oliver's Mémé. She's also a professional geek, avid reader, fledgling coder, enthusiastic gamer (TTRPGs), occasional singer, and devoted stitcher.
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