Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Catharsis is a myth

I distinctly remember someone saying that in my Psych 100 class back in the day, and the teacher nodding in agreement. Apparently, studies showed that people who were given opportunities to "vent" anger and frustration typically ended up more upset afterwards than they were before.

Obviously there's a lot of different aspects to this, and I know there are some constructive types of venting, I've experienced it personally. But while writing about my feelings on the day I found out, and directly afterwards, really helped me work through them, now that some of the dust has settled, I've found writing about it is upsetting me more than I was before I started.

I sat down to write an explanation to him about why he can't talk to Delilah anymore. I thought it was important for him to understand that his friendship with her was ALWAYS inappropriate, and always made me unhappy. He's acting like the beginning of the "affair" was the beginning of the trouble, when it very clearly wasn't. Their relationship ALWAYS had poor boundaries. Otherwise, it never would have gone there.

Once I'd gotten it all out on paper, I felt much worse. I was angry for most of the day, and I haven't even been able to get my head on straight enough to share the letter with him. Maybe I should, maybe I shouldn't. I think he needs to hear what's in it, but maybe just verbally in our next therapy session. Which just happens to be scheduled on our 5th anniversary.

Of course.

This is what I wrote. I've lost any ability to judge whether it's appropriate or helpful or not. It also feels unfinished, and as a writer, that bothers me much more than it should. 

I think the problem here is that you are assuming our issues began when you crossed the line between “close friends” and “lovers.” But in reality, while having crossed that line is a major betrayal of trust, it wasn’t a single action or moment. Your relationship with her was always inappropriate, otherwise that moment could not have happened.

In effect, by proposing continued contact with her, you’re asking me to return to a time that I hated. Of course it was in many ways easier to bear than this post-betrayal time, but I saw the writing on the wall from the beginning. Do you remember the fight we had on your birthday, when I agonized over the fact that seeing HER was the only thing that seemed to make you happy? Or before that, when you got back from driving her home on that first visit and you had no answer for why I should trust you alone with a woman who was clearly infatuated with you for forty-five minutes? How about the time I cried in bed because I wasn’t your best friend anymore, and you couldn’t think of anything to say to comfort me? Or the time she missed her bus and you drove hours and hours to take her home from Haddonfield, and I couldn’t stop crying?

When you say “I think we can make it work,” that’s what you mean by “it” - a life where I have to endure you being friends with someone who nearly destroyed my life. Someone whose presence was slowly poisoning my marriage from the very first day you talked.

By continuing a friendship with her, you’re asking me to choose one of two impossible options. I can trust you and turn a blind eye, which given the circumstances, is insane. Or, I can become the Friendship Cop, having to monitor your conversations with a person who committed the ultimate betrayal against me. I will have to read conversations that make me sick to my stomach, every single day, knowing that you can’t give this up. That I will NEVER be enough for you. That my happiness means less to you than a poisonous friendship that you just can’t let go.

You seem to want to partition the “appropriate” and “inappropriate” parts of your relationship with her. That is impossible. The whole thing is a threat to our marriage. Even if you don’t agree, you have to be able to respect my feelings about it. I know that on an intellectual level, you realize that what you’re asking of me is impossible. But the feelings you have for her are clouding your perception. You think you will be sad forever if you can’t talk to her? How do you think I will feel? Betrayed, lied to, treated with the ultimate disrespect - you bringing your girlfriend home and parading her around in front of me, letting her sleep in MY HOME, eating MY FOOD, sitting next to you, touching you in MY CAR - kissing her on MY SOFA - and God knows what else - and now, it feels like you want to continue to torture me because you cannot handle ending a friendship that is hurting me so deeply I can’t even find the words to describe it. 


  1. This is very articulate. I think you nailed it.
    Have you given this to your H yet?

  2. I agree with nightshademary. This was well-written and makes a clear point.