A Tale of Adultery
Writing is, in many ways, a form of therapy. A way of healing a broken past full of regrets and fury and heartache and powerlessness. It is a way of taking that past and reclaiming it, transforming it into a story so that you regain power over what happened, so you are no longer a victim. To place your experience into the wider experience of humanity and to come to an understanding that nothing is ever black and white. That the person who caused you innumerable damage are themselves a damaged person. That through writing, you can give humanity and dignity to that person who behaved less than human, who stripped you of your dignity, who took years away from you.
In a previous blog, titled ‘Crazy Cat Lady’, I recount the suffering I experienced during my first marriage. Of a man I met in Greece and who became, what I call my ‘Mail Order Husband.’ He shattered me. Broke me into a thousand fragile pieces so that I am still putting those pieces back together. He ruined me financially, emotionally, spiritually, and physically. And appeared to have no remorse.
Just as Daughter of Odysseus became my ode to Greece and all she did to me, so my new story has become my ode to my first, and disastrous, marriage. A marriage characterised by lies and deceit and, of course, adultery.
Adultery. It plays a large role in my new story. It propels the plot and shapes our understanding of the characters. Of a Wife and a Husband; two complex beings with diametrically opposed pasts who are thrust together by fate, by the hand of God, into this union called marriage. And it is tempting, to demonise the husband—the cheater—the antagonist. It is tempting to praise and support the wife—the protagonist of the story. Or is she?
A story, normally, has a protagonist and an antagonist. It has a beginning, a problem arises which reaches a climax, and there is a resolution. A happy ever after, as it were.
That was my initial goal. For the wife to be the victim, the heroine, the target of a gross injustice. The husband to be a sexual degenerate who lies and steals and deceives and cheats, cheats and cheats some more.
But it is not so simple. Humans are not so simple, we are not so one-dimensional. The story has now taken on new shape, a new form. We hear both sides of the story: the Wife’s Point of View and the Husband’s Point of View. We learn that the Wife is a victim of a deluded understanding of romance, of marriage and of herself. She is naïve, brought up in a sheltered world and easy prey for the predator. We learn that the Husband conceals bitter memories and a traumatic past that the Wife could never even begin to comprehend. A past of brutality and terror and a boot stamped forever on one’s face.
Thus, through the Husband I have come to research the little-known history of Communist Albania, of the horrific suffering of the Albanians under what had become the first ‘Atheist State.’ I am learning of dehumanising poverty, of a people living in fear, a people denied the right to live as their ancestors did: to worship, pray, celebrate, and to rejoice in life in all its beauty.
The Husband has narcissistic tendencies. Some may say he is a psychopath. But he is a victim, no doubt. And the Wife becomes ensnared in his narcissistic world; a world whose origins lies in a political ideology she knows little about. She, who grew up in a free Australia with its ‘she’ll be right’ attitude, with its apathy towards politics, with its obsession with alcohol and football.
My story doesn’t have a beginning, a middle and an end. It jumps between time periods and, from what I can see so far, doesn’t have a simple and neat ending. Because life isn’t simple, it is never neat and clean.
The Wife, the Husband. Who do you support? To whom lies your loyalty? Who is the antagonist, who is the protagonist? Both? Or neither?