This is a post that I have felt the need to write for a long time. You may like me less by the time you get to the end of it. So be it. I can't avoid writing it and there might be someone out there for whom it may even be of use.
When I was in my twenties I saw things as absolutes. Black or white with no room for shades of grey. And I judged people accordingly. People I met were either fabulous or hideous, there was no space in between. The self-appointed queen of judgementalism, me. There were a whole lot of things that I held in contempt - things like marriage (during the Trotsky period), becoming a wage-slave and infidelity.
I got over the marriage aversion pretty quickly when there was no other alternative but for the French and I to go through the ritual. And then I shocked the hell out of my socialist pricinples by sobbing through the ceremony. An irony that was not lost on most of the people at the service. Becoming a wage slave came with the territory, you know the deal, the sudden acquisition of whitegoods, the house and car mortgage. One moment you're in torn jeans with multiple body piercings the next you are in a tailored pantsuit with a tasteful string of pearls. What the fuck happened?
Infidelity. Not cool in my book. You meet someone, you realise they are your partner for life. You settle down together, maybe bust out a few kids - FIN - No messing about. Not that the odd bit of flirtation is out of the question. I could flirt for Australia if it became an Olympic sport, I like men, can't help it. But no funny business.
So what do you do when someone comes into your life who turns you inside out and upside down? This happened to me last year, I met someone and fell completely and uncategorically in love with them. There were no corners or handles to hold onto. I was in that space of which the early cartographers would write 'beyond this place there be dragons'.
I am not going to try and defend my conduct in this. He was and is a married man. I knew this and yet it didn't stop me. I actively sought a relationship with someone I had no right to be with, I knew that I was betraying not only his partner but my own. Still this didn't deter me. I would have done almost anything for this man if he had asked. None of this sat lightly on my shoulders, I lost my appetite, I lost weight, I couldn't sleep. I cried my body weight in tears of blood.
The one thing I am proud of is that I told Olive at the outset. He knew and amazingly he watched and waited. His conduct was amazing - he didn't judge me, he didn't ban me from seeing this other man. He simply bore witness and asked me not to leave. This might sound weird but remember, he is French and they have a very different take on infidelity to we Anglo-Saxons. In hindsight it was probably the smartest thing he could do. If he had tried to ban me from seeing this man chances are I would have done exactly the opposite.
As it was the man that I fell in love with did not feel the same as me after some time. It ended before it had really begun. And I have been floundering ever since. It would be a lie to say I no longer feel the same way, if I could make it go away I would. My hope is that with time this will recede for me.
Do I regret that this ever happened? No, I don't. I know a lot more about myself even if itsn't the kind of things I would have liked to know in my twenties. I am no angel. But fuck it, I'm trying. I struggle with my demons and try to chart a choppy path towards integrity. I have a helluva lot more empathy for people in this situation now and I mean ALL the players.
This will also sound bloody awful but I am still grateful to have a deep capacity for love. When I fall for people I do it deeply and irrevocably, friend or lover. I know I will always love this man, I don't have any anger or resentment towards him that he doesn't share how I feel, it is what it is. My gratitude and love for Olive and the way he is trying to steer us through this is without words.
This post is not to ask for your forgiveness or for you to grant me some kind of immunity from blame. I write it because I need to and because no one ever really talks about this kind of stuff. We sweep it under the carpet and pretend it's not there. But it is there and for better or for worse it helps to talk about it.