Thursday, April 01, 2010

Fragile Ecosystem

Earlier this week, K and I learned that a couple, whom we are close to, are struggling.

In January, the husband told the wife that he'd had an affair and that the affair had ended.

It took our friends three months to tell us.

I cringed, wondering what inane frivolities I might have talked about in her presence over the last three months.

"It's okay," my friend said. "It was kind of nice to pretend nothing was wrong sometimes."

I hate thinking of her suffering all that time without my knowing of it.

Her husband didn't want her to talk to me until he had summoned up the nerve to confess the affair to my husband.

He and K are close and he felt sure his confession would end their friendship.

But K and I are in no position to cast stones.

Still, I am enraged on my friends behalf.

I am vengeful.

Let the wrath of the Almighty fall upon he who hath caused her suffering!!

At the same time, I am empathetic to the shame and humiliation her husband is feeling about the poor choice he made.

He turned himself into everything that is middle aged and cliche even knowing, as we all do, that the cost might be his family and home.

I can easily imagine how sick he must feel, filled with stomach churning regret.

They aren't making any decisions right now.

They are in counseling separately and alone.

And my friend, my friend is so sad.

She's so hurt, so stung, and she feels like there aren't any good choices.

She wants her family back but isn't sure it can ever be the same again.

Is forgiveness of such betrayal really possible?

Can people honestly recover from this?

Since we learned about the affair, K and I are tense and thin skinned.

I returned to full-time work about eight weeks ago and this shift continues to make the routines of our daily lives harder.

There are so many pick ups and drop offs to negotiate.

The lunches have yet to be packed, the permission slips are strewn across the kitchen counter unsigned.

Who will attend the egg hunt at 3:30 on a Tuesday afternoon? What of the class trip to the Zoo?

The stress of our relentlessly negotiated balancing act on top of the high pitch of the whining and the repetitive quality of each day leaves our fuses short.

With our friend's news, even the smallest disagreement causes one of us, mainly me, to burst into tears.

How fragile the ecosystem of marriage and family seem.

I don't know what will become of our friend's marriage.

Our friends may recover and stay together... or not.

I imagine they will be altered somehow either way.

I am heartsick.


Kara said...

so true. Life, marriage is so fragile.

A friend just confused to us that he had a 7 year affair and just ended it. SEVEN years. They have a 4 year old son. They too are not sure if they will be together or apart. I'm heartbroken and shocked. We knew them so well. (or so we thought)

Good luck getting through this.

thordora said...

my marriage just ended, mostly for the reasons your first did. We're just starting to agree that no *one* person is at fault. But he strayed, and it hurt, and the heart somedays...still burns.

But you know...if this happened to my friend, I too would be vengeful, and even MORE pained. Sigh. How awful.

Fairly Odd Mother said...

Ugh, that is really sad about your friends. They are lucky to have friends like you guys to lean on (when they were ready to talk), but I imagine that it's so hard to even admit that there are problems.

Anonymous said...

I love your blog; your stories of your Mayor and Roo are the BEST, "I can spell". So as an old married lady (over 30 years) providence has sent me here to comment: nobody ever knows the state of anyone's marriage; couples can seem fine or not but that does not help with an accurate assessment of the state of their union. Stay calm, continue to be the best friend possible to your friend and extend an olive branch to her errant husband; the shoe can and will be on the other foot soon enough. We have found by being the only even keel in their life at this point is appreciated immensely down the road. Remember this isn't about you, it is something happening to them. Good luck.

Stacia said...

The most fragile part is that you have chosen to rely on someone else so completely. Then, when the balance is upset, there's no returning to normal. A new normal, maybe. But maybe not. Thinking of your friend.

Gappy said...

Ouch. I'm sorry to hear your friends are having such a hard time and that this has affected you aswell.

There are never any easy answers in this sort of situation are there.

Merrily Down the Stream said...

Ahhhhhhhhh... World turned upside down. I will ho;d them in the light.

jess said...

Oh, that is so hard. All of it. I hope your friends can heal and that their healing will bring you and K peace in the same way this betrayal is bringing up old wounds.

kittenpie said...

How horrible for your friend! I"m not sure how trust would ever be rebuilt enough from something like that to really be a family again, though some people do manage it. I also know that my best friend didn't tell me about her husband's problems with depression for a long time, just not knowing how to talk about it and feeling like it might be a betrayal. Still, like you, I wished I had been able to be there for her.

Anonymous said...

Tom and I were there and we made it.

It's insanely difficult; it's do-able.

Dory at Can't Remember Diddly

amanda said...

It freezes me, the inconceivable yet unsurprising occurrence of infidelity. I wish your friends, and you, calm.

The Super Bongo said...

My best friend abandoned her family recently. Well, not recently. She had an affair for a couple of years and then she left her family.

I felt the same threat to my own happy home you describe. It's as if all our marriages are invisibly connected, and when one breaks up, we all feel the threat.

I'm sorry.

meno said...

I can tell your friend, from my own experience, that perhaps she will forgive, but she will never forget.

And much of this depends on how her husband proceeds. Is he truly sorry? Does he want to fix it? Is he trying to avoid the topic? Is he willing to apologize as many times as necessary, even if it's 500 times?

Anyway, tell her that she is not alone, and it is possible that someday they will be happy together again (if that's what she wants) but it will not be easy.

Cynthia said...

I tried to find the article on line, but couldn't. It was in a recent Vogue. ( I know, source of all important information...) The author was long married with kids, met someone, had an affair that didn't last and her husband took her back and understood. The way she described it was that her husband who loved her so completely was the same person who actually could forgive her of anything and did just that. It was a pretty amazing article just as far as forgiveness goes. Tough call, such forgiveness in the face of broken vows.

My heart goes out to your friends.

Wendy said...

I get what you're saying. It is so sad but also makes you wonder how strong your own union is. Marriage is a long haul (she says all knowingly after 8 yrs!) with dips, hills, curves, and sometimes you just hang on, waiting for the next evolution.

John Ross said...

Oh my, That, huh? wow. Watching others coming apart, reminds many of us of sometime our lives, our unions broke apart. Small turnings away and Large. An affair or just a change of heart, a change of mind, done is done. Or, is it. Even after new unions are in place, old hurt remains, nothing in the world is the same as BEFORE. Otherwise, what you said. good writing.

Kay | Online Poster Printing said...

I really believe that you can forgive but you can never forget. I just hope that your friend will soon be alright. And that she'll be able to come up with the decision that would be the best for her and her family.

carol at A Second Cup said...

Beautiful written and heartbreaking to read.

Anonymous said...

I'm reading this from an eerily simar state as your friend. Trying to pick up the pieces and maintain some sort of normalty when you know nothing will even come close to normal again, if ever. And what the hell is normal, anyway?

I'm glad she has you as a good friend to count on right now.

Debbie, i obsess said...

I know too many goddam people in this predicament (i.e., more than one).


I'm sorry your friend is suffering, J.

Kelly said...

What a horribly tough situation. The thing I can't get past is how to embrace trust again. Even if you do your best at forgiving and vow to work to make things better, how do you let go and trust? It's such a striking betrayal.

I hope they can somehow find a path to healing, wherever that takes them.

Barb In Nebraska said...

Really beautifully written entry. I am heartsick too after reading this. Prayers

alimum said...

This happened to my friend and though, like you, I feel I am in no position to cast stones, I still cast the stones. I was friends with both of them in college and since, but even before my friends' marriage fell apart, I had fallen out of touch with him, so we never spoke again after she moved out. My friend did well, she realized all the way their relationship had been unhealthy, she took responsibility for her share of what went wrong in their marriage, and still I was angry on her behalf. And then he died two years ago and I still don't know how I feel about it. Sad, angry, and regretful that our friendship ended with their marriage.