Edited March 22, 2013, 6:45 PM: Well, I’ve got egg all over my face, thanks to someone posting a comment with my niece’s email address. Thinking the comment came from her — and getting upset by the thought that she’d write such a thing — I said some things here that I now regret. I’ve since modified this post to remove the passages she might find offensive. My apologies to her. I only wish that we were closer; I would have called her to discuss the comment attributed to her before referring to her in this blog post. I would have also called to apologize for my error and any pain it may have caused her. – ML
An explanation for those who don’t understand.
I’ve been blogging a lot lately about my divorce and the emotional turmoil it’s putting me through. Although it’s not easy for me to do, it’s something I feel I must do. It’s part of my healing process, recommended by my grief counselor; writing out my thoughts and feelings help me to understand them. The blog posts not only help me (obviously) get things off my chest, but they document this difficult part of my life. And as I’ve discovered lately by the outpouring of supportive blog comments, email messages, and even Twitter and Facebook responses, other people have also been benefiting from the way I’ve been revealing and discussing my open wounds here in my blog.
I was surprised and saddened the other day, however, to get the following comment on my blog post, “On Marital Infidelity,” posted by someone using my niece’s email address:
get off your horse and smell the roses.You and only you and him can work it out, not by blasting away.Stop and move on like you always do.
It turns out that the comment was posted by my brother-in-law — my niece’s father — for reasons I’ll never understand. It seems truly idiotic that he used his daughter to get under my skin. He should know better than to post such a thing without expecting a response. He knows firsthand how the ordeal of my divorce is affecting me. His comment was hurtful and uncalled for; pinning it on his own daughter was inexcusable.
But rather than go on and on about that, I want to focus on what he said.
My High Horse and the Roses I Need to Smell
The Urban Dictionary offers several definitions of “high horse.” I’m pretty sure my brother-in-law means the first:
Arrogantly believing oneself superior to others, often by putting down large groups of people. In usage, such a person is described as “on a high horse” or may be told to “Get off your high horse.”
Apparently, my brother-in-law believes that I’ve taken a superior attitude in the situation of my divorce — that I think I’m better than others. I’ve given this a lot of thought. The only way he could possibly interpret my thoughts and feelings — as expressed in my blog posts — as evidence of a superior attitude is because he doesn’t understand the simple concept of what’s right and what’s wrong.
That made me wonder whether this is something (1) my brother-in-law doesn’t understand or (2) today’s society doesn’t understand.
In any case, it’s worth explaining; I’ll get to that in a moment.
My brother-in-law also apparently believes that I’m putting down my husband. My recent blog post, “Wanted: A Strong Man,” can probably be seen as a put down — although that’s not the post he commented on. It was a difficult post for me to write, mostly because of what I said near the middle of it: he wasn’t always a weak man. But I think I was honest. And I think the people who know him well — including, ironically, my brother-in-law — would agree with many (if not all) of my observations. Instead of looking at it as a put down, perhaps my brother-in-law should think of it more as a diagnosis of a problem — something my husband could fix if he wanted to, probably with professional help.
But I don’t believe anything I said in the post commented on — “On Marital Infidelity” — could be considered a put down. That is, unless my brother-in-law believes there’s nothing wrong with marital infidelity. More on that in a moment.
The Urban Dictionary also defines “slow down and smell the roses“:
this means stop stressing out, overthinking, or complaining. put your troubles in perspective and try to enjoy the short time you have on earth.
I’ve been getting versions of this from several people who don’t understand the gravity of my situation and the way it is affecting — and will affect — my life. It’s easier said than done.
Try, for a moment, to put yourself in my shoes. I’m 51 years old. I spent more than half of my life with a man I loved, someone who I trusted implicitly with my life. I have 29 years — now nearly 30 years — of memories with this man. Nearly seven years ago, I made the ultimate commitment to our relationship by marrying him, standing before a judge and witnesses to recite vows — promises — that actually meant something to me. I thought they meant something to him, too.
Oddly, things with our relationship started going bad not long after we made those vows. Perhaps he thought they would change our relationship? I don’t know. He never told me what he expected from me. He never told me what I was doing that he didn’t like. Instead, communications shut down and, after 29 years together, he actively sought a replacement for me — while leading me to believe, through actions, lies, and misleading statements, that he wanted to fix the problems with our relationship. He hooked up with the first woman who would take him and, after less than a month with her, dumped me on my birthday.
And since then, he and his new mommy have been fighting me in court and harassing me, trying to take away everything I’ve worked so hard for all my life.
And I’m supposed to “smell the roses”?
I don’t see any roses here. Do you?
Working it Out
The comment also included this cryptic phrase: “You and only you and him can work it out…”
I find this particularly painful because I’ve been trying since June to work this out with my husband. I can even argue that I’ve been trying since last March when I went to the marriage counselor at his request, hoping to fix the problem.
Although my husband’s initial request for a divorce came over the phone, it also came with lies about why he wanted the divorce. And since then he has agreed to meet with me in person only once — two weeks after that initial request. That lengthy meeting — full of tears on both sides, was also full of lies from him. And since then, he refuses to meet with me.
Do I need to share each of the long email messages I sent him, pleading with him to understand my feelings and explain himself to me? The mournful texts — like the one I sent him after dreaming about having sex with him? The angry texts — like the ones I sent after he left me copies of email messages I’d written that he’d been saving since 2008, apparently to take them out of context and use them as ammunition against me? Do I need to share every single attempt I’ve made over the years to try to get him to talk to me?
My brother-in-law should understand this. After all, I spent 90 minutes sobbing over the phone to him just a few weeks ago. Why the hell does he think I now cry every single day of my life? Why I can’t have a simple conversation with my lawyer without bursting into tears? Why I’m crying now?
So tell me: how am I supposed to “work it out” with my husband when he’s failed to be honest in any of our discussions so far and now refuses to talk to me? How am I supposed to get closure on this when I still don’t understand why he was willing to throw away everything we had together? Why he cheated and lied to me?
How can I get past this when I can’t get answers? When I can’t understand how a man who was so good and honest and loyal could do this to his partner of 29 years?
Right vs. Wrong, Good vs. Bad
Let’s step aside from all that and get back to the main topic of this post: my “high horse.”
It all comes down to my feelings regarding right and wrong, good and bad.
Throughout my life, I’ve developed a very strong sense of moral and ethical values: a sense of what’s right and what’s wrong. Simply said, I believe people should do the right thing, the good thing. I believe that the world would be not just a better place, but an amazing place, if we all did the right thing whenever we possibly could.
I touched upon this briefly in a December blog post that I wrote when I was trying to understand why my husband had lied to me: “What is Truth?” Honesty is right, honesty is good, honesty is something we owe to each other — especially the people who trust us. Lying is wrong, lying is bad, lying destroys trust and lives.
How about marital vows — you know, the “love, honor, and cherish until death do us part” stuff people recite when they marry. Doesn’t that mean anything to anyone?
Is it right to make a vow like that and then lie to your spouse? Is it right to make a vow like that and then cheat on your spouse? Is it right to make a vow like that and then lock your spouse out of her home and business property? To fight her in court in an attempt to make her homeless and keep her from her possessions? To subject your spouse to harassment week after week and month after month, hoping that she just gives you what you want and goes away?
Am I the only one who thinks that’s wrong?
And no, “everyone does it” doesn’t make it right, so stop feeding me — and yourself — that bullshit line. It’s wrong, pure and simple. No one can deny it. There is no excuse.
In my blog post about truth, I considered the fact that I might be naive. My brother-in-law’s comment on my blog post gives me reason to think about that again.
Am I part of a small minority of people who understands the difference between right and wrong? Or maybe just a minority that cares?
Have today’s societal values degraded so far that people no longer care about what’s right or wrong? To the point where someone who is being wronged is considered to be complaining from a “high horse”?
Have things gotten that bad?
Fighting for What’s Right
The Apparent Irony of An Atheist Fighting for What’s Right
I have to digress for a moment and a sidebar is the best place to do that.
As some people know, I’m an atheist. That means I don’t believe there’s a god (by any name) who oversees the universe, makes things happen, answers prayers, and punishes those who “sin.”
A lot of religious folks who don’t understand atheism think that atheists are bad. They think that it’s impossible to conduct yourself morally without the fear of God’s wrath when you do something bad. Oddly, these are often people who demonstrate low moral standards by lying, stealing, cheating on their wives, breaking laws, hurting others, etc. I’m not sure why they think this is okay — perhaps they don’t but are relying on God’s forgiveness to get into Heaven when they die. It’s almost as if their belief in God and their willingness to go to church and/or confess sins has given them a free pass to do whatever they want, no matter how wrong it is.
I can’t speak for all atheists, but I can speak for myself. I try hard to do what’s right and good because it’s right and good. I try to avoid doing what’s wrong and bad because it’s wrong and bad. I don’t have a god — I have something far more powerful: a conscience. My conscience is with me every day and it guides all of my actions. When I do something wrong, I pay for it immediately — with a sense of guilt: a guilty conscience.
Isn’t that more effective than relying on some supernatural being to reward or punish you when you die?
A handful of my friends have advised me to “give him what he wants and get on with your life.” Those people don’t understand me or what’s driving me. And apparently, neither does my husband.
Because although my husband seems to have forgotten the difference between right and wrong, I haven’t. And although my husband apparently thinks that I don’t care about what’s right and wrong, he’s very much mistaken. (I guess it’s just another example of how we’ve grown apart over the years.)
My good friends and most family members understand why I’m still dealing with all of this nearly nine months after my husband made the call that ruined every single birthday I’ll have for the rest of my life.
I have been wronged. I cannot simply walk away without fighting for what’s right.
I was discussing this with a friend a few weeks ago. He said he understood completely. “You have to be able to live with the person you see in the mirror,” he told me.
His words triggered an epiphany. It’s not about being difficult or seeking revenge. It’s not about putting people down or making judgements from a “high horse.”
It’s the simple fact that if I did not fight for what I thought was right, I’d never be able to live with myself. I’d never again be able to respect the person I see in the mirror.
I knew it all along but didn’t understand it until my friend made it clear.
And I think that’s why I began blogging more frankly about my situation. I wanted to clearly state my case. I wanted make it clear what I was dealing with. I wanted to make it clear why I was suffering so badly. Why I still cry so much — sometimes over the smallest things. The pain of being wronged is so incredibly fierce within me.
I expected readers to connect the dots — to see that I’d been wronged and draw the conclusion that I was fighting for what was right.
And then my brother-in-law’s comment appeared. That’s when I realized that not everyone understood my situation and what was driving me. I realized that although right vs. wrong is important to me, it’s not important — or even of concern — to everyone. Including, apparently, my brother-in-law.
And that makes me sad.