Friendships are fragile and precious things. I know that, and yet I just put one in jeopardy. It was a stupid thing, really: She (I’ll call her Marie) was having lunch with me when she confessed that she had recently had an affair. When I asked her why she said it was because she and her husband aren’t often intimate and the illicit sex was fantastic. She also said that she and her husband are going to begin seeing a therapist together. It was her hope that he would get a prescription for medication to increase his libido.
Just let me say at the outset that I HATE infidelity. I think it’s cowardly and cruel. I think, in fact, that in my own circumstances it would be kinder for me to shoot my husband than to cheat on him. Plus, I know Marie’s husband and he seems like a truly kind-hearted soul who absolutely adores her.
Anyway, I freaked out. Once I got home and began processing things, I found I could no longer stand to speak to her. It seemed like the ultimate injustice to me that she cheated on him and yet she thought he should do something….anything…in an effort to improve their marriage. Knowing I was going to have to say something, I finally sent her an email explaining myself; my father cheated on my mother many years ago, causing her a great deal of pain. Perhaps that is why I am so passionately opposed to infidelity, I said.
She sent me an email back saying she knew there were no excuses for her behavior, but she needed to tell me her life story.
And that’s when I was blown out of the water. The things she went through were truly horrific. Child abuse, sexual abuse, drugs, abusive boyfriends, and yes, there was a little prostitution thrown in there for good measure. Her theory is that she tends to sabotage relationships that are too good because of her childhood abuse.
There wasn’t much I could say after that point but, “Oh, ahhh, sorry, I shall now quit casting stones.” And I think we’ve moved on, but I guess time will tell.
So my question to you is this: What should we expect from people who have been through that kind of trauma? Do they get a free pass because their parents were sub-human or do they have to, at some point, put it all behind them and live by the same standards as everyone else? And if that’s the case, when might that happen? Do they get twenty years worth of get out of jail free cards? Forty years? I have absolutely no answers. Just more questions. Have you ever had friends confess to things that really bother you? How did you handle it? How did you get past it? What do I do now?