Yesterday I finally watched the Esther Perel TEDTalk titled: ‘Rethinking infidelity… a talk for anyone who has ever loved,’ which had been floating around my Facebook feed. I hadn’t seen it linked on any of the blogs I follow, but it was linked to my Take Your Life Back Seminar Facebook page. It was kind of long, so it did take me a couple days to actually watch it. It was well worth the watch in my opinion, so I link it here. Also, I love her accent.
Esther Perel has many interesting and intriguing things to say about infidelity after her decades of education and experience in the field, and working with couples and their stories of betrayal. I forwarded the link to Blue Eyes to watch.
I thought it was interesting how she talked about how divorce used to carry shame, but now staying in a relationship after your spouse has cheated on you is thought of as “the new shame.” Only a weak person would stay. Yeah, a lot of betrayed spouses feel this judgment from the world, that and the fact that much of the world feels like somehow our spouse cheating is our fault. It is humiliating and dehumanizing, but nothing new.
I found her three component definition of an affair thought provoking: an affair includes a secretive relationship, with an emotional connection, and sexual alchemy (alchemy being the key word and she used the example of the imagined kiss being as powerful and enchanting as hours of actual lovemaking). In other words, it’s about the fantasy and she used the Marcel Proust quote: “It’s our imagination that is responsible for love, not the other person.”
She validated my feelings in terms of how devastating an affair can be and how it threatens our emotional security. How we have a romantic ideal of marriage in which we turn to one person to fulfill an endless list of needs, be our greatest lover, our best friend, the best parent imaginable, our trusted confidante, an emotional companion, and our intellectual equal. And how we feel we are that for our partner. We feel, “I’m it, I’ve been chosen, I’m unique, indispensable, irreplaceable. I’m the one! And then, infidelity tells me I’m not, and it’s the ultimate betrayal.” It is a devastating feeling.
One element of the talk that I found most helpful and that I relayed to Blue Eyes while we were walking the dogs last night, was when she talks about what the cheating partner needs to do to heal the marriage. She says the healing begins when the perpetrator acknowledges their wrongdoing, they end the affair, they express guilt and remorse for hurting their partner. That the cheater needs to hold vigil on the marriage, be the protector of the boundaries, bring up the affair, and talk about it so the betrayed knows the affair is not forgotten in the betrayer’s mind. I believe this is what I did not get. For 15 months I waited for this healing to occur. I believe Blue Eyes not being able to bring up the devastating behaviors and assure me that he had not forgotten them or pushed them into the deepest, darkest recesses of his addicted mind held me back from my healing.
She also talked about how of the people she interviewed, “95% say their partner lying about infidelity is wrong, but the same percentage of us say that is exactly what we would do if we were having an affair.” I only add this last part in here because early this morning, right before waking up, I had a very strange dream. Me being a person who likes to try to make sense of everything, I really struggle with dreams. Frankly, to me, many of them do not make any sense at all. Some make a little more sense, or have elements that make sense, with crazy shit thrown in for entertainment value? I do not understand dreams.
I have also been counseled (told?) many times that I should not be so glib (cavalier, confident?) about saying I would never cheat on my husband. I have actually heard these comments from cheaters and betrayed alike. Apparently betrayed spouses are exceptionally vulnerable to becoming a cheater. Really? I mean I get it if you allow yourself to be sucked deeply into the low self esteem dumpster, if you feel you need a man to validate you (kind of like the woman who cheated with your husband in the first place???) but sweeping generalizations of this sort don’t work for me. I call horseshit, bullshit, poppycock, malarkey, hooey, bunk, rubbish, nonsense, hogwash!!!!
And then I had this crazy ass dream this morning.
I’m lying in bed with another man.
The man looks suspiciously like a grown up version of Rob from my Japanese class back in college. After posting my blog entry the other day with Rob in it, I had googled both Rob and Michelle and found pictures of both on LinkedIn. They both look quite nice and I really do hope they are both happy and healthy. they are not with each other obviously, ha. Googling them was not in my dream, I actually did this, but this is how I know what Rob looks like now.
The bedcovers are completely rumpled from making love with my husband twice the night before and then apparently once with Rob.
There is no question in my mind, that in my dream, Rob and I have just had sex. Crazy enough, there is no actual sex in my dream, just the knowing that I had sex with both of them and that Rob is my lover.
What I do know in my dream (somehow, I just know this all) is that Blue Eyes has taken a job in a strange town. I have never been to this town before. I have no idea where this town is, but I do know the dream is current and it snowed the night before. Snowed? In May? Blue Eyes and I are renting the house that I am currently in with Rob. I hate the house. It is very dark with little natural light. It is a ranch style house, most likely built in the 70’s with little character, large rooms, but I only see the master bedroom, the dining room, and the kitchen, in my dream. There is something draped over the window in the bedroom with the shapes of flowers cut out of it. It’s not really a curtain. I’m not sure what it is, but it is orange and it covers most of the window, but allows the shapes of two flowers, a daffodil and tulip, to reflect on the wall across from the bed. I cannot remember having such a vivid dream in a very long time. I hate the fact that it is so dark in the room. Normally the first thing I do in the morning is open the draperies in our home and let in tons of light from the large picture window that has a view of two mountains, a river, etc… (this is real). In my dream I love my house back home and I do not want to be in this house. I find it so strange that Blue Eyes has brought us to this town for a job as he is the CEO of our company back home.
I am lying in the bed tangled around Rob, and I unexpectedly pick up a large manila envelope that is on the bed near me with test papers spilling out of it. Rob is a college professor (the real Rob is NOT a college professor) and he has brought some test papers to my home to grade them while he is here, and as it turns out, I am taking his class. I’m pretty sure he is a literature professor, but the tests that are spilling out of the envelope are multiple choice. I say to Rob, “do you know you have three of us taking this class? Me, my 21 year old Sammy, and even my college graduate son, The Pragmatist.” He says no, he had no idea, that I was the only one he was focused on.” I say, “yeah, even The Pragmatist has decided to take your class and he is a college graduate.” He kind of scoffs at that and I say, “no, seriously, he graduated from XXXXXXX College a year ago this week with a literature degree, high honors.” Rob is really surprised. He says, “wow, XXXXXXX College? That is really impressive.” I say, “I know.” Then I get up from the bed and say, “oh yeah, it snowed last night. I want to go look at the snow. It never snows at home.” He kind of chuckles and says, “wait, it snowed last night?” I say, “yes, you drove here this morning, how could you have not seen it?” He says “he must not have been paying any attention.” I wonder why I am in bed with this man, but I instinctively know, I will never tell Blue Eyes about him or the affair.
I cannot believe I didn’t wake up from my dream out of BOREDOM.
I get up out of bed and try and look out of the window with the strange orange cloth. I can’t see much and it frustrates me and I move from the bedroom into the kitchen. There is a picture window looking out to the neighborhood, but it is still quite dark in the room because there is a little front porch with an overhang that blocks a lot of light and it makes me even more frustrated with this stupid house. I look to the left and there is this new ranch style four-plex next door and I wonder why we couldn’t have rented something newer and nicer. The house is on a cul de sac and I am surprised at how many people are out and about on this little street in the middle of the morning. I am only wearing underwear and nothing else (which is how I sleep in real life) I was actually wearing the same underwear in the dream that I was wearing while having the dream! Briefly I wonder if people can see me since I am practically naked. Rob is wearing underwear and a t-shirt and he steps up beside me and puts his arm around me. I look out at the super large doug fir trees all around the neighborhood and although there is no snow left on the street, there is a light blanket of snow on the grass and on all the trees and it is beautiful and it makes me feel good, but I still cannot remember what town we are in. As I am looking out into the neighborhood, there is a couple cleaning their garage across the street. The mail man stops at the mailbox to deliver the mail, but he is not driving a normal US style mail truck, he is driving a small slate gray pick up truck with a large silver tool chest in the back. He is not wearing a mail carrier’s uniform either. I begin to wonder if we are still in the United States. In the driveway next door, a guy gets out of his little sedan and carries a large recyclable carrier full of Starbucks coffees into the four-plex next door. I mean, there are maybe eight different drinks in that one carrier and there is quite the combination of hot and cold cups with drinks. In the see-through cold cups, I can see that two of the drinks are some caramel colored drink with swirls of caramel and whipped cream (I don’t drink coffee). I am mesmerized by the drinks. I say to Rob, “wow, I have never seen so many different drinks… ” and he finishes my sentence with “in a Starbucks carrier before.” I look at him and he has this huge smile on his face and he says, “see I can even finish your sentences now. We make such a great pair.” And in my head I am thinking, this is the most boring conversation and Rob is the most boring man I have ever met. Why am I here? Why am I with him? I know I am still married to Blue Eyes, so why am I having an affair with this boring college professor.
Suddenly, my good friend Dee walks up to the door and instead of ringing the bell, she just walks right on in. At home, she always rings the bell before walking in, ha. I cross my arms over my naked breasts and she acts like nothing is out of order. Rob is standing back away from me now, like a statue and I am confused. Dee does not even mention or acknowledge that Rob is in the room. She hugs me tight and says, “hey, girl, let’s get you dressed.” As I walk by Rob he gives me this strange look and then he slowly morphs into Camilla, my husband’s last affair partner. Camilla is naked, but she seductively covers herself in what looks to be a beautiful silk knee-length robe with magnolias on it. She wraps it around her large breasts and I think to myself, I wonder if she got that beautiful robe at a second hand store. Then I glance back at her and think, wow, her hair looks so much nicer now than when I saw her in person.
And that is the end of the dream. WTF?