Saturday, August 09, 2008

Humpty-Dumpty Elizabeth Edwards

I am so disgusted with John Edwards. Not angry, not disappointed, not surprised, not forgiving - just disgusted. And just a touch outraged.

I am disgusted for what he's done, not to the public, but to his family - more specifically, to his wife, Elizabeth. I am sorry she must face her betrayal in public. It's hard enough to face in private.

I was married to a man who cheated. In my particular case we were no longer married when I found out. We'd been separated for months by the time one of his friends let that particular cat out of the bag. We'd split up for various reasons, alcoholism, child abuse, physical and mental cruelty, lots of good reasons, but infidelity was not one of them.

I remember going home after hearing the news - and feeling numb and disbelieving. By then it's not that I didn't think him capable of such an act, it's just that I didn't believe myself capable of not knowing. I was not angry at him - I was angry at myself. I never said, "How could he?" Instead I asked myself over and over again, "How could you not know? How could you have been so trusting, so blind, so stupid?"

It's not just about the act itself. Sex is fairly cheap - and it can be (and often is) meaningless. What it ends up being about is betrayal. The betrayal of trust - the time stole from yourself and your children; the money spent on another woman that could have fed your children; the ordinary conversations he had with her that you were home alone starving for; the dinners eaten alone while you believed he was working overtime; the nights you stayed awake, waiting, until 2 or 3 in the morning, convinced that he'd been in an accident; the numerous nights you spent in some emergency room with a desperately ill child, frantically trying to reach his father and being unable to do so; the thought that everyone knew - except you, of course. And close on that thought, the thought that everyone either pitied you or was laughing at you - and had been for months, maybe even years.

I'm not sure which is worse - the pity or the laughter. No one ever sets out to be the object of pity or the butt of a joke. No one in their right mind wants to be either thing. Maybe it's worse for some of us than others - sometimes your pride is all you have left and when even that's taken away the despair that follows is without comparison. There's nothing left to hold onto. As the spine stiffens, the core cracks.

And in the end, it doesn't matter. You either survive or you don't. Most of us do. I'm sure Elizabeth with survive this - she's a strong woman that's survived much worse - her son's death at 16 and her own diagnosis of incurable breast cancer. The question is, however, why should she have to survive his mistake his failure?? Acts of God are simply that - acts of God. Children die for reasons unknown to man, people get cancer at random - God challenges us and we rise to meet the challenge. Man, however, has no such divine right - rgardless of how infallible or how above the law he may think he is.

Her ability to trust is ruined. There will always be some small part of herself that she'll never be able to give to anyone else ever again. She. like I, like every other individual, male or female, who's ever been betrayed by someone they loved, will go to her grave with the knowledge that love and trust are not synonymous, that they are two different things, and that you can never again think of one in tandem with the other.

No amount of excuse, no amount of I'm sorry will ever put those two things back together again.

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