BY SADI-RANSON POLIZZOTTI
There is just so much to say about marriage, relationships, being a wife, being a mistress, being the husband or the lover, the abandoned, the abandonee and i can tell you from all ends, no matter where you are at this moment in time, the situation is difficult for all concerned.
The wife will think the mistress has the easier course and in some ways she is right: after all, she is not “being left.” Yet at the same time, she does not “have” her man in any way that society anyway, would count as meaningful. That may change of course: marriages do end, relationships come to a close and things move on and one day, despite all the heartache, you find that you are glad you lived through it (really) and just to feel the wind on your face again becomes a joy. To rediscover yourself, your indepence, the fact that yes, you can fix the toilet all by yourself and buy a ratchet set and all those things you thought you could never do, by god, you can and will do them.
At the same time, being cheated on, whether mistress or wife or husband or lover, is one of the most profoundly painful experiences i know of and having been on both sides of this issue, i can assure you both wife and mistress, that both roles are fraught and for the days of suicidal weeping that you may have (or perhaps you are more grounded, i cannot say), i can guarantee you that the other party, as much as you may loathe him or her, is going through the exact same thing.
I remember once not being able to deal with the guilt at the end of my marriage, even though as we know, it takes two to tango and in his way, he too had cheated on me. Perhaps not with a person, but by being unavailable and thus cheating me out of years of my life and while i am grateful for the happy years, i cannot and never will get back those lost years of my earlier life. I hold no bitterness or resentment and neither does he ~~ anymore. But for a time, yes, we both did. This is normal. I can also tell you that now, both my ex, my husband and his exwife all four of us are very dear friends and i call my husband’s exwife among my best of girlfriends. This, a woman who formerly in her words, “detested me” has become someone whom i love and who loves me in return.
Things change. Read Advice to a young Girl from an Old Mistress ~ an invaluable book if you wish to be married and yet be a mistresss and lover to your husband at the same time (i assure you, this is possible).
But what of those “emotional affairs” in which there is supposedly, they say, “no phyical contact, oh, the occasional hug or quick kiss on the cheek for comfort, but as i’ve heard “it means nothing.” This is simply not true. It can and does mean everything. It is as much of a red flag as a full-blown affair if not more so because it invovles a certain amount and depth of feeling, perhaps more than any physical affair. In the emotional affair, real feelings are involved. Real parties are involved and real discussions are had, the hardest and most hurtful part, discussions about you. Talk about betrayal.
I condone neither, but nor do i judge; i stand by and watch as we not only fuck as it were, but fuck it all up. It’s high time we learned the hard lessons and grew up and in the words of one song i know “did some shit” which means that we stop acting like the little GenXers we are or Baby Boomers who were the “me” generation because no matter what your age, give yourself or your partner an ultimatum. Yes, that’s right, i said ultimatum. An ultimatum is not a “bad” word, it means quite simply choosing between one or the other. And likewise, give yourself the same ultimatum if you re on the giving end of this and make a real choice.
Jimmy Carter said to commit lust in your heart is adultery and cheating and i quite agree. It should not be a “choice” not to screw around or cheat, but just a thought that never occurs because one is so in love, so engaged, so caught up in the other person that this is not even a thought that passes the mind if “just for a moment”, as i’ve heard. Or the “on some level i liked her” crap that is dissembling and means absolutely nothing. Come clean, tell the truth, and get real.
Whatever you choose to do, do it openly and honestly because if you believe enough to it in the first place, then show you have a backbone and back up your actions. Be brave and do not give in to social pressure that says “monogamy is not natural” and then ask yourself why it is that even whooping cranes and certain gulls are monogamous. Is this some accident of nature? Are they more evolved than you or I? I don’t know. I only know that it is possible and that is enough to give me hope for true and lasting love and passion.
Never settle. You are worth so much more than that… and you know it.
Sadi Ranson-Polizzotti, a contributing editor to Cyrano, is a British poet and author living in the United States who has published widely in the United States and in Europe. Although she has written for print publications, she is most widely known as a result of her prolific output online. Her flagship site is tantmieux (http://tantmieux.squarespace.com/ “so much the better”…