2. The Good Grief: Infidelity
Believe it or not, I think infidelity was the best thing that happened to my family. While I do not wish the kind of pain and duress I experienced, I do wish every person the freedom to seek out who each of us truly are and can become, without the confines and compromise marriage/partnership or having a family can bring. In my case, it forced everyone in my family to confront her/himself, and ask what we really wanted out of life. And then go out and get it.
There is so much hurt in the tsunami that is infidelity. There is a barrenness after the waves take everything away, razing familiar landscapes. And the curious thing? What follows is up to whatever we envision and commit to. If we choose to be present, observe what we sense, observe what is our initial response- but know that we have endless choices in how to respond- the tsunami can be a gift. The gift of blank slate. The beginnings are often paved with pain, but it emerges into something greater than we can imagine. We can become our whole self. Unapologetically.
If you desire that seeking, and can do so without changing the structure of your marriage/partnership, or the family- it's even more arduous to figure out what then *to* change. I honor keeping promises. Vows. What's been curious is the examination of revisiting vows. Promises. Checking in. Seeing what is working, what isn't. If I every marry again, I would like a check in every year. Every month. Every day. Not so much with my partner, but with myself. How am I showing up? What am I asking for? What am I giving myself... and in turn, my relationship? Esther Perel talks about experiencing many relationships and marriages to the husband she's been married to. I couldn't do it. I celebrate you.
I wanted to lead this post with a quote, and couldn't choose from the following three. They might give some ways to look at infidelity - or any kind of uncomfortable change- and how it's not always the devastation that it seems- what seems crushing, devastating, suffocation- can serve as an opening. If we choose it.
Trust me, I know.
"Her parents, she explains, emerged from the camps wanting more than just to have survived; they wanted to make the most of every day. “I began to understand eroticism not from the sexual modern definition, but from the mystical definition, as in maintaining aliveness, an antidote to death.”
“What is desire? It’s to own the wanting. I want. That’s the essence of consumerism.” Awkwardly for marriage, we rarely desire what we already have.
Infidelity, she believes, is rarely about sex, or even about the other person. Rather, it’s about recapturing “a feeling of aliveness with someone, of playfulness and curiosity, of selfishness” – that is, the very feelings that time and the mundane necessities of life tend to erode in marriage. When we are unfaithful, Perel explains, “it isn’t so much that we’re looking for another person, as much as we are looking for another self.”