Monthly Archives: April 2013

The Bit Part Players

I don’t care much for surprises, so this is how it goes: There’s a lot of sad stuff, and some funny stuff and I think it ends on a happy note. It starts like this:

The second worst day of my life I realised my wife was cheating.

And it ends like this:

Which isn’t such a bad place to be.

So. The Second worst day of my life I realised my wife was cheating. The first worst came a few days later. It was a Wednesday and broke the little left of me.

Lacking self-respect and the ability not to cry, I’d taken the day off work. I sat at our shared laptop, opened up Hotmail and saw M had left herself logged in.

I wouldn’t usually read her email, but it was a few days after what I’ve written about before. I had a fascination with her so- recently-secret life. He I knew by name, and from a few photos. She, it seemed, I didn’t know at all.

The inbox and sent box were overflowing with words that began before Christmas, two months longer than she told me. They were hard to understand. There were gaps, likely filled in with phone calls and texts and intimate talks. I was jumping from inbox to sent box, trying to make sense of it, reading too fast.

I needed to know everything at once, but was also scared of what I was going to find out.

Which, when you think of it, is kinda funny.

And the language was difficult too, because it was written in the secret language of lovers. I didn’t have a lover. She didn’t love me. I was just finding that out.

And here’s a funny part. I was wearing her bathrobe! I’d thrown it on without thinking, even though it didn’t really fit. I probably looked a comical sight, sitting in a too small bathrobe, reading her emails and concentrating hard just to breathe!

The big things should have hurt me most, but they didn’t. The week I believed she spent in Paris with a friend was actually spent in Poland with him. But it felt too comical to be sad, too ridiculous.

For a week, I didn’t know what country my wife was in!

The little things killed me. “I want to talk to you about everything” was just a throwaway line, but that one broke my heart.

And there was so much! More than an email everyday. Furtive planning, shared jokes, flirting, reminiscing, on and on they went. And on and on I read. And I was in them, too. Everyone is a bit part player in somebody else’s life, and so it seemed I was in M’s.

“He’s downstairs making some tea, so I have to be quick..”

“He just asked me what I was laughing at – I couldn’t tell him what you wrote to me! ;)”

“He doesn’t know anything”

I read those over and over. The shock meant that the pain didn’t register immediately, it took time. I had to fill the time, so I read those over and over.

Next was a funny bit I don’t remember. I found myself sitting on the floor. At some point, who knows when, I had to have fallen off the chair! I was struggling to breathe and my hands were shaking and my tears were stinging my eyes. I must have looked awful. And probably kinda funny too.

It took hours and hours to get through them all. After I’d finished reading I cleaned out our hamster’s cage, which is kinda funny because it’s not what you’d expect someone to do after learning all the intimate details of their wife’s infidelity.

But I’d forgotten to do it the day before, and it needed to be cleaned. It was getting dirty and she was probably sad, so I cleaned it and that’s the last funny bit. Crying man in woman’s bathrobe cleans out hamster cage. I’m sure I’ve looked better.

After I finished I sent a text to M. I asked her to try finding another place to stay that night. There was no big confrontation. The drama of the day was done.

And now it’s 2 years later, and I can finally write this down. I’m not broken anymore, pretty much, and 6000 miles away. I’ve learned about myself. I understand more about my flaws, and why things happened. I’m proud of myself too, that I never shouted at her, never let myself be bitter. And I’m proud that I’ve started a new life somewhere else, taken a risk and got some reward.

Most of all, I’m proud that I’ve come far enough to say that I’m proud.

Which isn’t such a bad place to be.

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There came a time when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.

~Anais Nin~

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Complete lack of Compassion

Margaret Thatcher and me are alike. We both, at times, have found it hard to show compassion.

Thatcher lacked compassion when she ended subsidies to British industries, effectively allowing them to die, and replaced them with nothing, leading to mass unemployment.

And I’m struggling to have compassion now that she’s dead.

Thatcher didn’t care if she was liked, a rarity in politics. I admire her for that. And she came to power when national newspapers were claiming a woman would be too emotional to lead the nation, and would start crying at the hint of crisis. I admire her for that, too.

In everything else, I’m sorely lacking compassion.

She’d understand my hardheartedness. She lacked compassion for an imprisoned Nelson Mandela, describing the ANC as “a typical terrorist organisation”. She lacked compassion for the 1,200 men who drowned on the retreating Belgrano.

But, she did have compassion for former dictator Augusto Pinochet, describing as a “tragedy” his house arrest, and vehemently fighting his extradition for the murder of an estimated 3,197 political opponents, and the torture of 29,000 more.

If Thatcher could be so moved by the plight of a monster, why can’t I feel any sadness for the death of a less vile and revolting human being?

Her policies led to the death of entire communities. Places where there are still no jobs and where ideas such as unity and family have been replaced with high crime rates and drug use. Take away people’s jobs, cut their benefits and blame them for their poverty.

But, of course, as Thatcher said, there is no such thing as society. We’re all individuals, out for individual gain. If you have a problem, it’s your problem, don’t look at me.

How beautiful!

One in seven children lived in poverty before she was elected. Within a few years, it was one in 3.

She was the anti-Robin Hood, stealing from the poor to make the rich richer. And how loved she is by the rich and greedy!

She introduced the poll tax, where everyone from Company manager to cleaner paid exactly the same. Imagine, how wonderful it must have been to pay an absolute tiny amount of tax! To be able to afford another holiday in the south of France, while those lazy feckless unemployed/teachers/nurses/disabled/poor struggled to get by. What a wonderful time to be rich and able to look the other way!

Do I have the compassion to defend her? Inflation needed to be brought down. Yes, unions were out of control. Yet Germany has shown that such problems can be rectified without destroying lives.  Perhaps she genuinely believed the markets would sort out the mess. They didn’t.

So how do I feel now that she’s dead? I feel defeated. Part of me wants to sing  “Ding dong the witch is dead!” but that would be showing the same utter lack of compassion that Thatcher showed through her life.

So I won’t be celebrating. An old person who caused a great deal of unhappiness in her life, has passed away. None of us are perfect. If Britain was just the south east of England, your achievements would be incredible. It’s just a shame you cared so little for Wales, Scotland or the north. Your passing will bring tears to some, but far less than you brought about while in power.

Goodbye Thatcher. RIP.

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“History is written by the rich, and so the poor get blamed for everything.”
~Jeffrey D. Sachs~

 

 

CNN Loves Rapists!

Like me, you’ve been watching the Jodi Arias trial with one single thought on your mind: What a terribly sad awful shame. That’s what you’ve been thinking. That poor, poor woman, (you’re thinking). If guilty of the crime she has thrown her life away. It’s tragic, you’re thinking, whilst shaking your head sorrowfully. How could anyone have anything but sympathy for her!

Oh, have I presumed too much? You don’t have sympathy? I guess there’s a difference between an alleged murderer and a convicted rapist then?

CNN thinks so because CNN loves rapists! It feels really sad when they misbehave and do something naughty like raping – but you know, boys will be boys! But then the nasty old judge has to treat it as if it’s like, you know, something serious, and the poor, poor rapists have their lives ruined!

Imagine that. Having your life ruined just because you did some raping. Not only are they going to prison but their names will also be on a sex offender register! Isn’t that terrible! How can handsome young men who play sports well possibly be on a sex register?

“My life is over” said one of the rapists. Doesn’t it make your heart break? The “victim”, whoever she is, probably felt that way too, but CNN didn’t waste time on her. If only she’d kept quiet about it, those two handsome athletic rapists could be running around a sports field right now!

The Steubenville rape trial. Sympathy for the rapists, death threats toward the victim. Blaming the victim, dismissive attitude of rape by those in authority. The boys’ ignorance in what constitutes rape and their pride in treating a girl as nothing more than a vagina.

Too much! Too much!

I wanted to write about Steubenville,  but it’s just too big. And too sad.

I hope, I really do, that it’ll be a famous case in the future, 100 years from now. People will look at it the way we look at witch trials, I hope. Why didn’t people understand what rape was? People will say. Why did they hate women so much? People back then were really really dumb!

I hope.

But it’ll only happen if people make it so. When teachers at a school dismiss rape as less important than the performance of a football team, we have fucked up. When a 16 year old girl is blamed for being raped instead of the 2 boys who, you know, did the raping, something is very wrong. And when a national network news channel spends five minutes over how sad it is to see convicted rapists being sentenced, we all should be afraid.

Rape is a choice of the rapist.

 

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“Being responsible has nothing to do with being raped. Women don’t get raped because they were drinking or took drugs. Women do not get raped because they weren’t careful enough. Women get raped because someone raped them.”

~ Jessica Valenti ~

Olivia A. Cole

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