Monday, July 23, 2007

Whirrled Peace

I would give my nonexistent left nut for a little goddamn peace.

Talked to my attorney today and got the prognosis on my potential for peace in the near term. Some of it is good, some of it not so good. He can cause me a great deal of turmoil in the upcoming months. An oversight by my attorney may enable him to push open a door I believed firmly closed. Shit happens. Hopefully, his unwillingness to pay for professional intimidation will hasten his desire to go to war with me. He would much rather do the intimidating himself, I suspect, seeing as how effective that strategy has been over the past fourteen years. I am so counting on that arrogance.

In the meantime, I am trying very hard not to fear the unannounced show up at the office (which he has threatened twice already) or worse, the scaling of the condo building onto my deck. It has been a while since he has done that, so here's hoping. I will call the cops if he does it, which really challenges my sense of loyalty.

And that is what I have been thinking about all weekend. Loyalty. I am often asked what went wrong between us or what changed about B that made our marriage unworkable. The answer - in its simplest form - is that B stopped being loyal to me. I don't equate loyal to faithful, although that is certainly part of it. But loyalty is so very much more than fidelity. It really is. Loyalty has, at its core, profound respect for another human being and for your relationship with that human being. I think you can divorce someone to whom you are and will remain loyal. That is what I believed I did.

I remained loyal to B throughout this process, at least for the most part. Hell, I actually felt disloyal at times, especially when I told some friends about his misdeeds throughout the marriage. That was a betrayal worse than infidelity, at least to me. Whatever sins were committed against each other, I was not about to use inside knowledge against him. I still cannot do it to B to this day. I still protect him. I have not told anyone the whole truth.

Random aside - I have lost a few friendships in my lifetime, and I am thinking now of a few female friendships. The two that immediately spring to mind concern acts of disloyalty by women I considered friends. Looking back at the relationships that I fucked up, they weren't marked by disloyalty. Carelessness, insensitivity, selfishness, self-aggrandizement, wholesale "fuckedupness" -- sure. Absolutely. I own each and every one of those. But I have never tread upon the realm of disloyal. I have never used private information learned in the course of a friendship against a friend.

(Well, shit, yes I did. Law school. A "friend" (we really weren't tight - she knew I was close with the guy she was dating) told me something that I am certain she wanted and believed would be kept confidential. She had an incurable STD (herpes) that she got from a sexual assault years earlier. Whatever her motivations were to befriend me, I know she trusted me when she told me that. Months later, she had a pregnancy scare with the aforementioned friend of mine. I was gobsmacked - how could she be having unprotected sex with him? He wouldn't have risked contracting herpes. When I asked her if he was worried about herpes, she said "oh, I haven't had an outbreak in years. I am as cured as I can be."

She hadn't told him? Holy fuck. He and I were much, much closer than she and I were and I didn't know what to do. They had broken up and he was already dating someone else - someone he cared for quite a bit. I should have told her "hey look, either you tell him or I do." I didn't. I struggled with it for a day or so and, goaded by a mutual friend who knew the situation (one of the two aforementioned female relationships that ended because of another's disloyalty), I told him - my friend. I didn't want him to unknowingly infect someone else and all that. He got tested and mercifully, had dodged the herpes bullet.

But to my "friend"? Yeah, I was persona non grata, and understandably so. I deserved that stigma. It was a shitty thing to do, even though I am not entirely certain I would have done things differently. She told a great deal of our mutual friends of my betrayal (never the exact circumstances, just that I told him something profoundly personal that she had told me in confidence) and, out of respect for her, I never divulged the details, either. I couldn't defend myself, assuming, of course, there was anything to defend. The mutual friend who goaded me into telling him? Yeah, she played dumb.)

In any event, and that random confession aside, I learned a great deal from that experience. All you have is who you offer in a relationship, be it friendship or lovers or whatever. I believe you owe it to yourself and your friend/lover/whatever to be loyal. What you learn or discover about a person in the course of a relationship is private and was shared to you under a blanket of trust. Relationships often end. But if you betray that trust? If you use it for your own gain? Fuck, that is the worst kind of betrayal. That betrays yourself and your former friend/lover/whatever. You lack character. You are an opportunist who will sell out if it suits your perceived needs.

I live with the guilt and shame of having betrayed a "friend." No matter how unimportant that relationship was to me, I betrayed her in the worst possible way. As a result, I haven't done it again. Since then, I have lost friends and ended relationships and at least one marriage, but I haven't betrayed anyone again. I have even resisted the urge to defend myself because it would mean betrayal of certain confidences.

And, coming full circle on this random outpouring of thoughts, I cannot betray B. I cannot. And what really sucks is that he has no loyalty to me (or anyone else). I am holding myself to a standard that he no longer knows exists. I don't have any skeletons in my closet that he can exploit, so it isn't a fear of him revealing my secrets or misdeeds. But he doesn't have a sense of loyalty to me to honor the relationship we had, no matter how far done and gone it is. He is not loyal to me, or respectful of the relationship we once had, or the loyalties that I have demonstrated to him. He is all about getting whatever he wants without regard to that and winning at any cost. And nothing sucks more than knowing you are playing by a rule that the other team willfully disregards.

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