Monday, November 05, 2007

Pulling back the black cloak...

When she jumped in the car and hit her foot on the gas, it was all quite simple in her mind. It was black and white. He had been unfaithful, lied about it, and then humiliated his spouse by calling her at work to admit it all instead of facing her like a man. Of course, she knew she would leave him.

Her purpose driving there was strictly to support her in this time of betrayal and crises. She would be the level head, the older one there with a shoulder to cry on, willing to offer advice if asked upon, but not planning to throw her opinion in if not. Objective and helpful, she'd do what was needed, even if it was just babysitting, to help them all through this betrayal.

The drive was long. She had an eternity of time to think and several phone calls on her way that set her mind to whirling about the course of events that had caused her to drop everything, throw clothes in a bag, and hit the road, leaving behind her children and husband--a fall festival, church service, and a soccer game on their plates.

Her mind wandered to what she might do in a similar situation. It sounded arrogant, but she couldn't picture herself even in that situation. She and her husband had their share of problems, but she implicitly trusted him. He wasn't distant, brooding, quiet and withdrawn like the other one. No, if there was an attraction, she'd be told or she'd instantly know by the change in his demeanor. Of that, she was certain.

And, she thought of her own parents. Their marriage had seemed destined to fail to her as a teenager. They lived entirely separate schedules, one a morning person the other a night owl, both refusing to budge. They united only to argue about those things she heard most married people seemed to argue over. But, their fights seemed so much more bitter and volatile than a typical couple fighting over bills and debts. And, then there were the problems that were not talked about...that were ignored but lay like a thick cloak of shadow over everyone in their home. Those problems everyone just hoped would go away, but left her wanting to scream most of the time. Can't anyone see what is going on? Why doesn't anyone stop this? Why is everyone pretending this problem is not here???

When she arrived, she found them all there in a different state than she'd expected. Calm, perhaps numb, and complacent--not outraged, plotting or consoling. Perhaps the shock was setting in, she guessed. As she spoke with her, she found a rage growing inside of her that she knew she must control, or else she'd not be able to help as she'd planned when she made the big drive.

After hours of hearing tidbits of incidents and putting together the pieces of the story, she could take no more. It appeared to her that she was already putting the wheels in place to forgive him and take him back. She was falling for all of his manipulation and calculated apologetic gestures. He had slept with another woman behind her back for months, then returning home to share her bed, and she was going to look the other way. Was she nuts?

She felt that dark cloak being pulled over them all again, this time for different reasons. It was suffocating to her. She gasped for clear air. She remembered the nights of watching her mother crumble to the floor in tears, unable to leave but unable to stand up for herself for some reason. The anger bubbled up inside her as she remembered the times she'd take her little sister and escape in her new truck, thankful she had her license and could get away. How could this be happening again to them? How could anyone let this go on again?

Finally, she broke, asking them all if they were out of their minds. She spoke harsh words of anger, asking her if she felt she deserved this treatment? Didn't she deserve more? What about the lying? How could she live with that? And a dozen or more other thoughts that flew from her lips with all speed of a fast drawn arrow shot from a bow. Piercing words that probably stung just as much as any arrow, but needed to be said.

Once she had said her peace, she instantly felt remorseful, but also steadfast in what she'd said and the impact she'd hoped it might have.

After some time, she took a private moment and spoke with her again. More calm now, she was able to hear the logic behind her stand-still. The reasons for slow action became obvious now, even though she did not think they were warranted. As did the understanding that you can be raised with an air of passivity that stays with you and influences you later in life.

She supposed she'd taken those years of watching her mother stay, and bottled up her disappointment, confusion, and anger at her lack of will to take control. Somehow she'd contained it all inside of her using it to drive her in life, giving her clear instructions on how to avoid ever being taken for granted or used in that way in her own life. She'd told her own spouse many times that if he ever cheated, it did not matter why or what he did, it would be over. Betrayals in friendships can be amended and forgiven, lying to your loved one was inexcusable in her mind. Period.

But, the other one had not had the same evolution. Now, she watched her falling quickly into mother's footsteps, unknowingly. The cloak that had smothered them all those years, that she'd thrown away when she left home, was actually comfortable wear for the others. She realized now that the familiar fabric that made up their home, as dysfunctional as it was, was easier for them to slide into (or put over them) in times of fear. It was better to them, than facing the unknown...or standing on their own.

As she drove away, she promised her support and love but left still not sure what would happen to her. She felt more different from them than she ever had before, which left her sad and isolated, but unwilling to change who she was inside.

One thing was certain in her mind as she headed home--two people can share a childhood and walk away from it all grown with completely different ways of coping and living. But, most of all, she lamented, life is never black and white.


Anonymous Angela said...

Wow... that's heavy stuff. It's amazing how differently people choose to deal with the things life throws at us.

9:48 PM, November 05, 2007  
Blogger Babs said...

Good for you for speaking up... and for even going home in the first place, when you probably knew (at least on a subconcious) level) that you'd have a different point of view. I'm proud to have a friend like you. :)

10:19 AM, November 06, 2007  
Blogger Nicole said...

It really is amazing how two people with the very same parents and upbringing can turn out completely opposite. You're right, the longer I live the more I see that hardly anything is black and white. You did what you could to help out. Sometimes there's nothing else to do.

1:39 PM, November 06, 2007  
Blogger DebbieDoesLife said...

That's the truth! Life is NOT black and white. I always remember too the old have to walk a mile in another person's shoes.

6:48 AM, November 09, 2007  

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