Red Responds: She was Left Holding the Bag

Mary in Flordia writes:

I have been married for 23 years now. We have two beautiful children. Our oldest child is grown, but we still have another child at home in grade school. Around two years ago I found out I have bi-polar disorder. This changed our lives completely because my husband could not understand my depression, and the changes that we had to live with. Through those years our marriage was a living hell. During which time I was very lonely, confused, and being mentally abused. I wanted out but yet was afraid of losing everything.

I took another road to disaster, I got involved with an old friend of ours whom we had known for 10 years. At that time, he was going through a bad marriage too. We became too close and depended on each other too much – we both made a mistake. I was fooled by this man , we were caught, and he ran. So I was left holding the bag and defending for myself. I was so mad at him for leaving me to blame I went for revenge. I wanted him to suffer the way I was hurting but only to my surprise he turned the tables on me and made it look like it was all my fault. I still think of him and yet it has been five years now since we have seen each other. He went back to his wife, and I stayed with my husband and paid for the mistake. My husband and I have finally closed the issue, and he will never know how close I was to this man. His trust in me will never be again the same and my trust in him being mentally abusive will never be forgotten. How do I get over the one who betrayed me?

Dear Mary,

You have been through a lot, and have come a long way – but there is more work to be done. Hard work.

While being diagnosed as having bi-polar disorder does create a lot of changes, it also helps to explain a lot of the circumstances of your life that took place prior to the diagnoses. Look back honestly on your life. You struggled with emotional issues and made emotional decisions long before you had a diagnosis. Naturally, your illness did have impact and effect on your family, marriage, and affair.

While your husband may not be the most supportive and understanding creature on the planet, he is the one who is still by your side. I’m not offering an excuse or justification for his abusive words and behaviors toward you, especially when you were at your most vulnerable points, but he was reacting to everything that was going on. Your husband has never been the most ultimately secure man, and when his world is threatened and things are outside of his control, he lashes out. To this day he will still ridicule things he does not understand and things that threaten his sense of security. He can also be particularly cruel when he feels that he has been wronged. He’s only human. Whether you truly understand this or not (I’m not quite sure) remember that during your darkest hours, you weren’t exactly the easiest person to relate to or live with.

Since a particular chapter of your life is a “closed issue” between you and your husband, work on really putting it behind you. Yes, his trust in you may not be the same as it once was, but that doesn’t mean you can’t earn a new and different level of trust with him. Working on strengthening your marriage and communication skills with your husband will help to build this trust. Equally, you can’t keep in front of you the tally of his mental and emotional abuses of the past. Neither of you can change what is already done, but each of you can decide where you go from this point forward. You don’t have to tolerate being abused – no one does! Set your boundaries, define them and uphold them.

When you look back over your past, you seem to have a lot of sadness, anger, and guilt. Either work through the issues, or let them go. The experiences have brought you to this place and time. While not pleasant, they did serve a purpose. Learn how to accept your share of responsibility with grace rather than bitterness. Yes, you were sick, lonely, lost and confused, but while they may be valid reasons for the paths you took, you are not completely an innocent victim of circumstance.

You can’t “make” your friend pay for, or shoulder, his level of responsibility… then nor now. He has his life, you have yours. Bluntly put, you came pretty close to screwing up your life with him in the past – and holding on to him can jeopardize your future. He was a better player than you are, so his image is slightly less tarnished than your own. But, he isn’t viewed as squeaky-clean in all of this, either. He just didn’t get nailed to the cross for you to see. My best advice is rather cold, but: Get over it.

Mary, what you are holding on to equates to some sunny distant memories bound by karmic ties. You are keeping these memories alive, and by doing so you are strengthening your inability to fully move forward. You are looking for closure with this man. The problem is, you aren’t going to get that opportunity any time in the foreseeable future, so it is up to you to close that issue as best you can. Painful as it may be, a good place to start is by accepting the fact that he chose his wife over you. He chose his own skin over protecting yours. When things got tough, he ran. That isn’t love, that isn’t respect. He has given you nothing to hold on to, so you need to choose to consciously let go.

Talk to a counselor. Meditate. Create your own ritual to let go of the experiences and pains of the past that no longer serve you in the present. He served his purpose in your life back in the day, and you have spent the last couple of years trying to recover from him, and your time with him. You aren’t the same woman now that you were then, so much for you has changed. When you are ready to be happy in your life as it is, and love yourself for the woman you now are, you’ll find that you barely think of this man, or that time, at all.

Brightest Blessings!
Ext. 9226

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