So, you have done something that causes someone you care about a huge amount of pain.
Or even someone you don’t know.
What happens next?
How do you make amends?
The difference between a selfish and a selfless person is the difference in their reactions here.
A selfless person feels deep remorse, and worries about the recovery of the person who is devastated by their actions and choices. They reach out. They ask what they can do to help. They are all about trying to make amends. Being supportive.
The selfish person usually still feels bad. Guilty. But the bad feelings are less about the person they have hurt, and more about their own feelings.
When Roger’s affair partner – supposedly a friend of mine – texted me to tell me she had been fucking him, his immediate reaction was to run. “I’ll pack a bag.” He never once looked for a counsellor, read anything about why he chose to betray me, and he constantly tried to rush my healing, and discount my pain. Guilt. As in, stop making me feel bad, Paula. He pretty much made me feel there was something wrong with me for being so devastated at what he chose. It’s not what I’ve done, it’s your reaction to it. He had eighteen months of fun with Leanne, feeling wanted, coveted, desired, and I was completely blindsided. There was no fun at any point in that for me. The STIs I contracted and still deal with the consequences of are also not a huge amount of laughs.
Same again now. He cheats again. And rides off into the sunset with his precious trinket, and I get to pick up the pieces of a shattered life.
On the other hand, initially I looked to why he was so unhappy that he looked elsewhere. What was I lacking, what did he need that I was not able to provide?
I wanted to make him happy.
He wanted to make him happy, too.
His words about the affair with Trinket included, I just want to be happy with her. I want you to be happy too.
No, you don’t really, Rog. You want me not to feel utterly wiped out by your choices, so you don’t feel bad. It isn’t about me, or my happiness. That is a load of bullshit. My devastation is uncomfortable to you. Stop feeling Paula. It is also why Trinket’s location was attractive. He could run away and not have to face how gutted myself, our children, and many of our friends are. (J, “you guys used to be my couple goals….”)
Of course, the answer is, character. It wasn’t ever what I lacked. Hey, no one’s perfect, but fuck I couldn’t have tried harder to be a better partner. He lacks character. And strength. He is weak, and instead of talking to me about his feelings, he got his jollies by fucking a person who was happy to just be a receptacle for his semen. No real, deep connection. Just some surface admiration and ego boosting.
The interesting thing to me, when you realise the difference between guilt and remorse is that Trinket has shown neither as well. If I hurt the loyal partner, I would crawl over shattered glass to try to make amends. I would be so upset I hurt someone. My happiness will never be worth someone else’s agony. To participate so willingly in hurting a family, good job, Trinket. Hope he makes you feel it was all worth it! She must have seen my shock and pain when we met. I even recall her sending me a message at one point blaming me. She said something along the lines of, well, you chose to keep living there. I wonder how she would feel had her husband left her, tried to force her out of her home, and tried to make her children accept that woman she said she hated so much?
Um. It was my damn home, Trinket. No real fucking choice! Not a reasonable financial alternative before the farm sold. No cashflow. My lawyer told me not to move if I could bear it. That I could retain some financial control if I stayed, but would lose it if I moved. Rog was spending joint funds on gas, dinner, movies, drinkies, dating Trinket was very much funded by Paula. I was just trying to weather the storm, hoping he would come to his senses! And if not, to protect myself from financial disaster. He was already halving our retirement! It would have been even worse if I moved out.
In my thesis, I drew on Elspeth Probyn’s deeply affective work on guilt and shame. I found it so engaging. Therapeutic. Her analysis is sensual and I connected with the concepts on a very personal level. It resonated as I read tonight about guilt and remorse.
So, tonight, my baby girl is staying, as she sometimes does. It is nice to just hang and watch a bit of Netflix. I did have to stifle internal giggles at the sex scene in Ozark between Jason Bateman and Laura Linney’s characters, where he was entering her from behind, and started slapping her butt loudly and the sex got rougher.
Just like he had seen in the sex tape of her, his wife, and her affair partner.
Roger started slapping my arse, pulling my hair, etc, quite a lot more regularly during sex. I liked it. I am pretty into very physical sex. I also adore slow, deeply intimate bonding sex. Staring into each other’s souls (hmmmm, yeah, right.) We were into a bit of light bondage, riding crops, blah, blah yaddah, yaddah, over the years. Maybe the increased bum slapping is a sign??? Lol.
Younger daughter is working tomorrow, and I live closer to the village where her job is. And her brother messaged me to ask if I could ensure he was awake in the morning. Big test. He cracks me up. Sleeps through alarms. So, I will be back up alarm again. At the other end of the country. Eldest was Snapchatting her dinner, asking if I had the fire going again, and sharing the worst family photo my parents made us get as kids! Ewww!
Truly horrendous 🤣🤣🤣
Meanwhile, Rog and Trinket build new family memories together. Curled in each other’s arms, him breathing in the scent of her hair, just her.
This is the life she chose. To be with a man who treated the mother of his children, the person who worked her butt off building a life with him and loved him so much, like shit. The man who was so angry he was caught defying a legal agreement not to have his affair partner enter my house, that he knocked me unconscious and pinned me to the bathroom floor – by my throat.
How damn cosy.
I hope her religious parents and her kids are really proud of her for landing a partnered father of three. Score!
I am only here breathing today because of my three precious babies. I gave them life, and they are saving mine as the waves hit hard again.
Deep breath, Paula, you’re going under again, but you’ll keep coming up for air, I promise x.