Self Deception Meets the Deceiver, Part II
For the past, “He was mixed up,” or “He was in with the wrong crowd.”
For his recent betrayal, “She stole him from me.” “He wasn’t very experienced with women.” “He’s an addict.”
In 2008, in order for me to deceive myself about who he was, it was necessary for me to buy, lock, stock & barrel, his apology and his excuses, “I tried to find you but your mother stonewalled me.” (Good for her!) “I had my head up my ass and failed you and our daughter!” & Also I had to validate his self pity and victimhood which went along with these statements. (Yes, I believe that he did feel himself the victim, not that he was trying to convince me to believe it.)
I opened my arms readily to this repentant man with his declarations of apology and devotion because I accepted his version of the story with himself as the victim.
The victim? Excuse me? The man who chose drugs and druggies over his wife and baby daughter? The man who never sent us a dime, never a note to ask how we were? The man who never listed his phone number in case we tried to call him?(All those years of poverty, with my little daughter, of eating potatoes & lentils, of no health insurance, and me telling her, “I loved your Daddy very much but we had to leave because he was doing drugs and in with the wrong crowd but he’s not a bad person,” & every six months or so, calling up directory assistance, to see if he’d listed his phone number yet, thinking that would be a sign that he was turning his life around and wanted us to find him…)
But my biggest mistake in how I handled this situation back in January, 2008, when we first began communicating, first via email, and then instant messaging, after eighteen years of estrangement, was that without knowing it, I deceived myself into thinking that I was communicating at last with young confused husband from 1989, or the young boy who wooed me as a teenager in 1986.
It did not sink in, until after I discovered that he was sleeping with another woman last fall, that he was neither teenager nor young father; he was a man in his forties who’d learned to lie often and well to cover his secrets from the world, and a man with secrets to hide, and with well established, very bad habits.
It was not my young teenage lover, or my young husband, who cheated on me with another woman in such a callous way as to keep me driving six hours round trip to see him for eighteen months during his infidelity, because neither of those aspects of him would have been capable of such duplicty.
But for the fortyish man with bad habits and a highly developed skill for lying, well, he slipped into the role of cheater quite easily. He was a natural at it.
As for the young boy I remember, camping across country under the stars the summer we were nineteen, he was mixed up and heading for a lifetime of addiction, but he would never have cheated on me.
And, as a wise older friend pointed out to me last week, this young boy whom I’ve loved and whom I’ve grieved for all these years- this young boy whom I thought I’d been reunited with, that boy is gone. He does not walk on this earth any longer. He has vanished.
(to be continued…)