Tuesday, May 26, 2009

EDWARDS INFIDELITY

Rebounding, Elizabeth wrote a book about it .

I have written five books in which infidelity is part of the plot. Just a part. They are not my story. I put on characters like I put on costumes. I use my feelings like an actor does, to play the part.

But, I've been there -- I know what infidelity is -- I've been in my own infidelity land.

Her book, my books, what others say, can help you, but nothing can fix, or take away, or erase, or undo, or make nice. Nothing can, but YOU, and time, and quiet -- very quiet private thought about where you want to go. Where you want to walk.

The quiet questions:
Do you want to walk down the street and head where you were already going? Go back? Take another road in another direction? A new direction, forward into the unknown? It might be a wilderness -- new relationship, new environment -- new town, new friends -- new home, bed, bed linens, mementos, pots and pans -- you deal with your own specifics while you're walking and thinking.

The unquiet, nitty-gritty questions:
You want all the sexual details -- the who, what when where why, how? You don't want them? Should you talk, share, get advice, see a counselor, a shrink? If you don't talk, can you put it out of your mind, and just feel?

Small warning:
Just feeling is a wilderness. You do not know what will be there -- anger, tears, mental illness, incapacitating depression. You, me, all of us -- we are who we are on our trip in our life, and what happens, happens.

Advice to the newly wounded:
Hold onto who you are, where you are, and the quiet, very private thoughts -- what do you want, need, seek, wish? Define the "we" of you , the royal we, the boss, king/queen/president of your own life.

Why am I, who am sometimes outspoken, writing this so elliptically, bending over backwards to avoid my private self?

Fancy answer:
Because the morality, the history behind the stories and experiences others have had with infidelity, where others have been -- Hillary, Jackie O, Elizabeth (or Em), doesn't help you find your bearings.

The reasons, the why and wherefore and everything that got where you are is the route you took. It's your map and your territory, and only you can follow it. Only you know how you got there.

Write a book? Sure. It's hard, lonely work. But beware of words, like "faithful, unfaithful," hand-me-down ideas, the dust from the uncountable sources of meaningless, crumbling ideals. Beware of the wind -- the wind blows and it's blinding. You will have no place to walk, if the dust of the past piles up higher and higher and higher around you.

Em's five books in The Readery -- whooee -- that's a lot of words woven in and around what happens to my heroines, and happened to me. None of them are my private quiet story, but I'm saying for the second time in this post -- I have been there. In the dust, in the mess, on the walk, and I know what infidelity means.

Elizabeth's book is her story. You, and I, all of us have a sense of who she is and who he is. It's in the news, absorbing, somewhat prurient, interesting -- like gossip. And touching, because of the Edwards family history -- cancer, a dead child, their extraordinary efforts during the political campaign -- the look of them as a couple. But it's a story in a book. It isn't her.

So what's Em saying about infidelity?
I've got something hopeful and cheerful to say. You emerge, clear eyed, clearer, strong, more directed -- in balance -- when you and the person who put you into the land of infidelity, end up together, sharing it.

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