The internal cataclysm that occurs on discovering that your spouse, has been unfaithful to you, is the equivalent of stumbling over a landmine in the free-range egg aisle in Sainsburys. That is to say, that it is farcically unbelievable, violently messy and nothing within a 500 metre range with a fragile outer layer, stands a chance. The world drops away from you like a bungee jump into the Grand Canyon but without a rope, or a parachute.
This Year's tabloids have been awash with grotesque revelations of the seedy misdemeanours of a number of high profile (low morality)public figures. The undeniable majority of the culprits are men. Clearly not the weaker sex, considering the stamina required in sustaining their sordid deceptions and juggling so many women at the same time?
Why not women? Is it simply that Women lack the imagination to carry out such duplicity? Or simply that the cuckolded man is not such tasty prospect as the ashen-faced, bambi-eyed WAG clutching her Louis Vuitton and blinking in the headlights. Of course, the truth is, that many a woman has stolen illicit pleasures under the pretext of lunch with a girlfriend or a trip to the gym but more often, it is the Husband , who ceremoniously leaves the Family home on the quest known as "I have the right to be happy too/it's not you it's me/I need to find out who I am/We have grown apart/You are too fat and I don't fancy you therefore I have the God- given right to shag someone else!" Take your pick.
It is very hard to believe that statistically, Divorce rates are at an all time low, when every third woman you ask, has either been a victim of infidelity or knows someone who has? It seems incredible that when Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in her 1969 book, Death and Dying described catastrophic loss, that most 21st Century Women's practical experience would be; the death throes of their married life or long term relationship? That is not to say, that the loss of a marriage is more painful and intolerable than being widowed, but simply that at least the widower has the consolatory belief that their spouse loved them and their children, unconditionally.
To be told by the person you have committed your life to"For better or for Worse", that they no longer love you, or in fact, never did, is likely to provoke a exaggerated response of incredulous disbelief. Things like this only happen to other people, surely? Not to you and not by someone to whom you had always given the moral high ground? It is as ludicrous and obscene as Father Christmas being charged with theft and assault. The shattering and splintering of every notion and belief you have held as Gospel, as they come raining down around your ears, is akin to being caught in a ice storm. Whilst drenched from head to foot in frozen horror, you are simultaneously pierced by multiple, agonizing splinters of realization. The Mantra that "This cannot possibly be happening to me", thunders in your ears and women have been known to laugh blankly in total disbelief, pick up their wallet and go shopping as though nothing has happened.
However this defense mechanism, can't stall or drown out the dull thundering roar which is the sound of "All Bloody hell", about to let loose.
"Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned". The engulfing rage once you realize that your spouse has been Playing Away is a little like being caught in a rip tide. It is deadly and exhilarating and you have to be careful it doesn't destroy you. Having said that, exercising a little wrath is both healthy, necessary and entirely justified under the circumstances. Personally I favour the Shot Putt... using the Bang Olufsen or vintage Hi fi system you have lovingly dusted and tiptoed around reverently for the past 15 years. I liked the approach taken by one wife who took out a £36,000 advertising campaign to be shown in Time Square during rush hour in New York explaining exactly how sad and pathetic and small genital ed her husband was!. Sadly my budget wouldn't stretch..
It is interesting the anger that revelations of marital misdemeanors provokes from your family and friends. It can be almost as explosive as your own. Whilst your girlfriends will seethe sympathetically with you, cry with you and eat Haagan Daaz to the point of vomiting with you; nothing is quite so likely to provoke homicidal tendencies from women who have never said Boo to a Goose; than a woman betrayed by another woman. It is a crime beyond all forgiveness to be betrayed by a female friend. Most women will admit that secretly, they think that infidelity from a man is almost par for the course, but a woman who has chosen to seduce another woman's husband or who has taken a Father from the family home, is likely to be up there with Moira Hindley or Medea! The Home Wrecker is reviled like no other and has invited the wrath that she inspires amongst the Sisterhood.
This is the time in a woman 's life when she needs strong women around her. Anyone having experienced any kind of life-altering grief will tell you that the "Grief cycle" is in fact a "change cycle". Confronting the demise of a marriage or long-term relationship is to expose an area within oneself of profound psychological weakness which any sane woman would prefer not to explore. That is when you should call on reinforcements in the form of any girlfriends who categorically class themselves as your Fan Club! Otherwise you'll rattle around like a brussel sprout in a sieve, in awful ever decreasing circles of despair with cries of "If only I d been thinner/better paid/more interesting/had bigger breasts/smaller stretchmarks/fewer store cards" until you have dug yourself into a hole of self loathing that you will need RAF helicopters to rescue you from? In reality no amount of bargaining with the Almighty or liposuction is going to retrieve the situation. This is where your female friends will offer the gentle gift of perspective and will stop you renouncing your passion for Maria Carey or ebaying your soul to the highest bidder. There is no compromise and no half way house, you simply have file your spouse under AWOL and move on.
This is no ordinary Depression..... this is S&M depression! When the black dog arrives, the only advice is to batten down the hatches, put away sharp objects and sit out the storm. It is possible to lose weeks and months during this period, but when you come through it; which you absolutely will; you will be able to look back with black humour and laugh grimly at the lowest points. I remember the good folk of my church community rallying round to bring meals for us when I lost the ability to cook and eat. I remember my son earnestly standing next to my chair as I lay next to an untouched plate of supper and saying sternly "You have to stop crying Mummy or they will NEVER stop bringing Casseroles!" I recall vividly standing on my Mother's doorstep in London on Christmas Eve, shivering in the frozen air, gulping down sobs and hanging onto my mobile like a life buoy, talking to a friend whose husband had also upped and offed with a mid life crisis. We couldn't get a word out between us. It seems anarchic to laugh in the face of the taboo but actually it is what might well keep you afloat.
Accepting that what is past is past and you are the better for it is a very odd experience and quite disconcerting. A girlfriend who is an extraordinary capable single mother, was quite taken aback after a number of years of flying solo, to suddenly find herself the focus of attention from a nice unattached man. Firstly after checking in her rear view mirror to make sure he wasn't flirting with someone else,she found herself experiencing the first symptoms of infatuation. Pinkly flushed and exhilarated,she dusted off her self esteem and skinny jeans, and toddled off to go and check out what was on offer. After some reassuringly average sex and a few evenings of conversation with someone over 21 (for a change),she found herself trying to think of reasons why she couldn't see him that night. The revelation that actually she rather enjoyed being single and not having to pamper to someone else's whims and emotional needs proved incredibly liberating. Granted the sex was nice in the same way that your car passing its MOT is a relief, but frankly that was it! She was perfectly content with her own company amusing herself as and when she felt like it. Discovering you don't need affirmation from a partner to enjoy being you,is like rounding a bend in the road to find the most beautiful view unfolding in front of you. There is no one to tell you what you should see, no one to disturb the perfect silence of the moment and all the time in the world to realise that you are not lonely or unfulfilled. Accepting that you are comfortable with yourself is like flying. While I profoundly regret the loss of my marriage I no longer cling to regrets in order to have a sense of purpose. The end of a bad marriage is not a death but a weight cut loose from around your neck. If I had an epitaph for the end of mine it would the words of Dorothy Parker;
This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force.