I spent more than a year in a cramped coat closet of my soul. I couldn’t write anything that I felt was worthwhile, and everything I did produce had the distinct flavor of motion from memory. Why? It was undoubtedly a self-inflicted penance, because of all that happened. A friend betrayed me. In fact, many people I considered friends were complicit, and I was trapped in the role of the Dupe. I had the distinct displeasure to discover what had occurred, but I chose to wait for someone–preferably the girl responsible–to fess up and allow me to vent, so we could all move on. It took her more than a month and enough alcohol to choke a rhinoceros to come to this, and in that time, I grew increasingly bitter, tired of playing innocent and unaware. She was sleeping with a guy I’d been over the moon for for nearly a year. He didn’t feel the same, but lacked enough respect and kindness to actually tell me. I think he feared a scene–but that’s another segment, for another day.
I want to say mean things about her. More importantly, I spent a good bit of time wanting to say mean things to her–to cut tiny pieces of her soul out and watch it bleed from her eyes. This is not something I’m proud of. It represents the ugliest parts of my personality. So–the spiritual coat closet. I’ve been waiting for my wounded pride, my heart, and my spirit to catch up with the intellectual understanding that no one is all bad or all good. Good people do stupid things, hurtful things, wrong things. Bad people sometimes surprise everyone by doing the responsible and ethical thing. I know that she’s not an evil person, that she didn’t fall into his bed in order to hurt me. However, the long-drawn wait for her to let me know what had happened–what is, presumably, still happening–withered a very important part of my spiritual anatomy. My ability to forgive her for any part of her actions.
There was, for a few months, an attempt to let it drop, to move on without the resolution that would necessarily have been harmful to both of us. But that wouldn’t have served either. It wasn’t the sex or the romantic relationship I couldn’t get past. It was the avoidance of me, the deceit. I will always make a big deal out of her betrayal, her lowness, her perfidy. I don’t think it necessarily makes me a bad person, but if I had acted on my desire to inflict a million tiny verbal hole-punches in her psyche, it would be a different story entirely. And so, while I’ve been hung up and unable to effectively process anything for the past year, I averted the more dangerous wound to my spirit. To act, however delicious it might have felt to inflict permanent damage upon her, would have been inexcusable, precisely because I am better than that. I’d like to remain so.
I’d also like to remind myself that at one time, we were friends, and that I greatly esteemed her. Though I can never say that again with any honesty, I also can’t deny that there are good things about her. She is an excellent archaeologist, with a vast understanding of ceramics that easily eclipses my own paltry store of trivia on the subject. But she belongs to a sphere that I can never inhabit, one in which casual carnality is its own justification and only coincidentally also happens within romantic relationships. She thinks about it differently than I do. While there’s nothing wrong with that, it does render sex both more and less important to her than it will ever be to me. As I said, it’s not the fact that they entered into a sexual relationship with one another that hurts me–that, I could have understood and accepted. I tend to value emotional and intellectual fidelity over that of the bedchamber.
Our friendship could have withstood the sex, at least as far as I was concerned. It never had a chance once I realized she would have hidden it from me and avoided me indefinitely, given the choice. This won’t be explored fully for some time, and yes, there will be other segments. Some might say that she doesn’t deserve so much attention, so much energy. In response, I say that she was once a significant presence in my life. I loved her deeply, heard her secrets, and kept them. I was protective of her fragility. Of course she deserves it. Of course she does.
“You own everything that happened to you. Write your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should’ve behaved better.” ~Anne Lamott