Love, Betrayal, and Forgiveness

The other day, I shared some thoughts on my story. This entry is similar. Instead of random thoughts, though, I’m sharing deep feelings.

There were times that I doubted he loved me. On many occasions, I told him that no self-respecting woman would purposely put herself through what I did. I know many stepmoms can relate to that. As I said yesterday, I had specific reasons for staying. But that didn’t make the day-to-day any easier.

I could tell he wasn’t happy. I felt that his ex was taking advantage of him, as well as others. You see, he was a ‘yes guy’. He wanted to make everybody happy. He agreed to, or just went along with, whatever. His intentions were good and that’s why it was hard to stay mad at him.  The problem was that he couldn’t make everybody happy. You know the saying, don’t you?

You can make some of the people happy all of the time. You can make all of the people happy some of the time. But you can’t make all the people happy all the time.

I thought he needed another person to be on his side and help him. I thought they were being selfish – that they were so stuck in their own feelings and not bothering to ask him what he wanted. On more than one occasion, I asked him what he wanted – what he REALLY wanted. Whatever it was, I was going to help him get it. I believe he loved me for that – that intention. I didn’t get an answer though. I came to realize that he didn’t know what he wanted. That’s exactly why he didn’t get it.

People in my corner give him a bad rap because of how badly I was hurt. This is human nature – to identify with those we’re close to. Similarly, people in his corner think I’m the terrible person. I choose to see the bigger picture. I won’t let people talk bad about him in my presence.

I know he was hurting too. Six months after we broke up, he told me he was suffering from a broken heart. The following is an e-mail I got from him about 8 months into our trial separation. (This is word for word; I didn’t correct typos or grammar errors either.) We had plans to move in together again.

When I met you I was lost. Parts of me where going left Right straight back up and down. You gave me something no other could or can. You helped me grab all the parts and focus on getting them all going in the same direction. This was not an easy job! You supported me yet made me think. You challenged me without intimidation. YOU made me feel good of myself as before that I did not want to feel at all. You had to do nothing yet did everything. Now I can’t stop feeling. Feeling for YOU. I love you with all my heart and soul. I can not do enough to thank you for your love support and guidance. I just wanted you to know. And as time goes on my love for you continues to grow stronger. I wish that there was a word stronger than the word love so I could use it in reference to how I truly feel about you.

Have a great day and remember that even thou I am not with you physically that you are in my mind and heart all the time.

His sincerity is one of the main reasons I fell back in love with him so many times. And when it was just the 2 of us, we had a great time. We didn’t need to go on a date night to have a good time. That’s right. We enjoyed just hanging out around the house together. Even after I made the decision to leave, a street vendor called us Honeymooners. We looked that happy together!

The final straw behind me leaving had less to do with stepfamily dynamics and more to do with our relationship. You see, I felt betrayed by him. I felt betrayed for:

  • every lie he ever told
  • making promises that he wouldn’t (or couldn’t) keep, like legally divorcing his wife
  • everything he agreed to do or not do, and didn’t follow through on
  • believing, even for 1 minute, any lie perpetrated by others
  • not believing in my good intentions when we disagreed with how to parent

In spite of all that, I forgave him completely, for a few other things as well. It was much easier to forgive him than many others who didn’t have good intentions, but those people will remain nameless. I knew he was in a difficult position – being torn between his kids and me. Torn loyalty is a common stepfamily dynamic, for both the kids (between their mom and stepmom) and the parents (between their partner and kids). I suspect he felt like he was in a lose-lose situation. If so, what’s the point of doing anything?

I wish he would have shared his feelings with me. But he didn’t, so this is partly a guess. It’s based on what I’ve learned about human nature, stepfamily dynamics, and other psycho-emotional subject matter. Jonathan Aslay (expert on understanding men) says that men like to make their women happy. No wonder my ex was so unhappy, because neither his daughters or his significant other (me) was happy!

Yes, we all know that nobody can truly make another person happy. We do, however, contribute positively or negatively toward other people’s happiness. That’s why it’s important to understand how we affect others around us. This is especially poignant in a stepfamily. This is also why it’s important to be in a supportive environment, which I wasn’t.

I also forgave everybody else – those who told lies about me, who perpetrated the lies, eavesdropped on me, stole from me, went through all of my personal stuff looking for dirt on me. Finally, I forgave others who I thought was a true friend, but then stabbed me in the back.

It was an arduous process to understand and forgive. “Why me?” I wondered. I didn’t think I was a ‘victim’, because I chose to stay. I wondered why it happened in the first place. I believed that what goes around, comes around. I wasn’t a saint. (Nobody is.) But, I always did my best to do right by people – everybody. Sure, I made mistakes, but who hasn’t? Why would mistakes with good intentions get these kind of results?

I picked apart my experience with a fine-toothed comb. I wanted more than just answers. I wanted to be happy again. So, I made the decision to. In my quest, I discovered my spirituality. After 10+ years of being a true agnostic, I found my faith in God. Saying that still sounds crazy to me, but that’s what happened. The more answers I found, the more questions I had. No, I never quite figured out why it all happened to me. Instead, I found a way to accept that it happened w/o being bothered by it. I found a way to forgive. That’s how I live my life now – with peace of mind. 

I never regretted staying as long as I did and not leaving sooner. But every day since, I thank the Universe (God) that I’m no longer there and that I have my sanity – true peace of mind. It’s the biggest blessing life has given me.



Love, Betrayal, and Forgiveness — 2 Comments

  1. Thank you, Erica,
    Yes, many people find themselves “stuck” in unsatisfying relationships. Maybe I made it sound like I felt stuck, but I didn’t feel that way at the time. As hard as it was, I chose to stay as long as I did. It was a conscious decision, although a repeatedly tough decision.

    The situation was still very difficult – the most difficult I ever went through. But we also had really good times as well. Even at the very end, we could have fun together.

    I’m wondering if I should rewrite that post now. My original intention was to try to highlight the good along with the bad, but maybe the way it’s written didn’t accomplish that effectively.

    I appreciate you taking the time to read and comment. It means a lot to me.

  2. Judy,

    Thanks for sharing your story so openly. So many people, and I suspect more women but I am not so sure about that, find themselves “stuck” in an unsatisfying relationship. It may be easier to leave a person who is outright abusive – cheating, lying and revealing an unscrupulous character. But even those types of people can charm you back into attempting to trust just one more time. Or they can threaten you into being afraid to leave.

    It takes so much courage and resolve to finally walk out and not turn back. So I am happy to read that you are relieved every day by your decision.


    Dr. Erica

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