As I sit here in paradise, it is obvious to me that the trauma symptoms from betrayal know no bounds. It doesn’t matter how gorgeous the weather, or how blue the ocean waters, or how vibrant the tropical flowers, or how amazing the view is from the bathtub in our room, trauma is here, permeating my happiness. Fear takes over as I sit down to a meal, anxiety envelops me as I lounge on the sunny beach, take a swim in the warm ocean, or walk along a beautiful garden path.
At breakfast, I sit next to my husband and I feel the emptiness creep in. Blue Eyes is currently sober. He is not acting out. He is behaving like a loving, nurturing, faithful husband should. Everything looks so pretty, kind of how it used to look. My anxiety does not come from what he is or is not doing right now, in this moment. My anxiety stems from all the damage he has already done. I read a blog last night before bed that was written by a recovering sex addict. He talked about empathy. About how in a recent 12 step meeting, they had “learned about what empathy means.” He said after his meeting, he could then understand what his wife was going through. After reading the entry, I sat there with my mouth gaping open, in shock and dismay. I wanted to throw something, hard. WTF? After years of cheating and wreaking havoc on his marriage, and on his wife’s happiness, safety and security, he is admitting he had no idea what empathy meant until a 12 step meeting. REALLY? Where have you been living for the past 40 years? Empathy is not a new fangled concept. If we don’t as humans come into this world with empathy, we are taught it at a very young age. The ability to understand and share the feelings of others. THE GOLDEN FUCKING RULE! Whether we decide to embrace it or not, is totally up to each individual, but I call bullshit on anyone who says they DID NOT UNDERSTAND what empathy meant until they entered a 12 step meeting after having destroyed the basic tenets of a human relationship: honesty and integrity. The word delusional shows up on my blog, a lot. How can people be so delusional? How can they make excuses for making horrifying choices and then pretend they didn’t know what empathy means? They chose to disregard the feelings of others. Do I think I am some perfect human specimen that never makes a mistake, never does anything wrong, never ever hurts anyone’s feelings. NO, no I do not. I know as humans we are all very fallible. Do I believe that I do things out of my own emptiness or loneliness, things that I know will hurt another human being, and yet I completely disregard that other person’s feelings or needs in order to do these self indulgent things. No, that I absolutely do not do. I make conscious decisions every day to respect the feelings of others. This is what makes me feel good, and whole, as a person.
I try not to, but when I read blogs these days, I can’t help but think about my own situation. My own husband. About whether what this man is saying in his blog is something my husband has said, or felt, or done. Sometimes things that people do or say in their blogs make me feel sick, or empty, or vulnerable. But then, I realize my life and my situation is uniquely my own and I have the ability to make choices for myself that protect me and nurture my safety. That man is not my husband, but my husband has said and done things that are absolutely shocking to me. Some of these things he has done, some of the rationalizations he has made for his behavior, plainly do not work in my world. I cannot move forward with him if he is going to remain delusional. Do I realize what he has done is in the past, and cannot be changed? Of course. Do I believe he has paid consequences for his actions that are equal to or greater than the pain and suffering he has caused me due to his actions. No. But I also recognize that I cannot, have not, and will never, walk in his shoes, and I am not a big proponent of retribution. I do not know how his brain functions. Do I care? Yes, for the time being, I care very much. Will I always care? You know, I don’t know. I need him to acknowledge that what he did was wrong, and that he knew it was wrong when he did it, and that he knew it was going to destroy me, and he did it anyway. In my opinion, that is the only honest truth. If he continues to rationalize bad behavior in the future and make excuses about how he compartmentalizes out my feelings, I will walk, NO, RUN, far away. I am not a masochist. I fell in love with a man 30 years ago and I have lived a loving, nurturing, faithful life with that man. I know what hurts him. I know if I nurtured a sexual and/or emotional relationship with another man and carried on for eight years, it would destroy him. He knows I would never do it, so I’m sure it has never entered his mind. Due to whatever circumstances he wants to throw out there as excuses, he has chosen his own perceived needs over mine. What used to be sympathy on my part, knowing he was unstable due to the abuse and neglect he suffered in his childhood, is now empathy. I have now suffered abuse and neglect from a man who promised to cherish me until the day he died. I understand what hurts people, and so does he. It’s time to abandon the excuses. It’s time to realize he has the tools to be a decent human being and he doesn’t need some 12 step “lesson” to remind him what he already knows. In my mind, 12 step is a support group, not fucking nursery school for people who shut off their minds to treating others with love and respect, and now think if they just have a “lesson” about it, they’ll get it. It’s time to acknowledge he has always understood the golden rule, and now he needs to actually live it.
I need my husband to come out of the darkness and into the light. Although it may sound like my words come from anger and resentment towards what my husband has done, they actually come from fear. Fear that without true acknowledgment deep in his soul, of what he is and what he has done, he will go back inside that place where rationalization rules, and love dies.
6 thoughts on “The Golden Rule”
Excellent post Kat! I don’t think everyone learns empathy to the same degree. Have you read about being an “empath?” It’s helpful reading to better understanding of yourself. xo
I have read a little about being an empath, Rac, as it has been discussed a few times with my therapists. Not sure they officially “diagnosed” me as one, but they definitely called me one. I am also stubborn and I don’t understand how people can selfishly block out the feelings of others in order to be self indulgent. I believe everyone understands the golden rule, whether they are able to live it, is another story. My husband knows how sensitive I am, but I am sure he is somewhat confused when I blubber on about how he abused his AP’s. My therapists certainly re-direct me. I have a difficult time putting my own needs first as I am so focused on others. I feel like I am just now breaking out of this pattern and starting to put my own needs first and it is so painful. I am about to write a post about it…
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Can you send me a password to your other post please
I don’t password protect… I haven’t posted it yet 🙂 .
The longer I live, the more I experience the lack of empathy human beings can have for others. I feel, sadly, that you kind of have it – or you don’t. I think it is extremely difficult to learn it, to acquire it. Mine always had it, but was able to compartmentalise it away when he was unwell. I think maybe yours may be similar? But to say you learned about empathy in a 12 step program? Wow. I doubt true understanding.
Then again, I doubt a lot these days.
Great post, Kat xx
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I agree with you, the sick ones are definitely able to compartmentalize. Not sure how we all got so selfish. Or maybe we just always were and I am fighting a losing battle trying to understand it. It is a constant challenge trying to understand how my husband could put everything on the line including the career he has worked so hard for, the marriage and family he spent 30 years building, everything, for a few hours of sex. Sick.
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