A lot of people say they are victims of infidelity. I suppose if we look at the strict definitions of the word, that rings true.
(Disclaimer: Children are deeply affected by fractured families and certainly can be perceived as victims, however, this won’t be discussed here.)
Victim according to Merriam-Webster Dictionary online –
a (1) : one that is injured, destroyed, or sacrificed under any of various conditions <a victim of cancer> <a victim of the auto crash> <a murder victim> (2): one that is subjected to oppression, hardship, or mistreatment <a frequent victim of political attacks>
b : one that is tricked or duped <a con man’s victim>
Let’s start with definition b. Okay, it makes some sort of sense. Tricked means an action that is meant to deceive someone. Definition a (1) injured, destroyed, sacrificed. Well, I definitely was emotionally injured by my ex-husband’s deception – actually more about being lied to! I’m not saying the indiscretion didn’t hurt, but I was more angered by the lie told when I asked the question point blank. More accurately; ” I know you’re having an affair!”. “No, I’m not”. By that time he had been two or three months into it. I personally wasn’t destroyed by his very major faux pas, but it did send me to emotional places I’d never been before. It was a huge hit in many areas. Not one bit of easy. I fell, and I fell hard. Sacrificed? Maybe due to my ex’s lack of foresight. Meaning, he sacrificed our marriage because he didn’t know how to handle matters in a mature and sound way. He didn’t intentionally set out to deceive me, but he certainly got caught up in his own needs. Self-gratification is a powerful aphrodisiac. As for definition a (2), if you’re in such a position, it’s time to get out!!
My main issue with the word victim in reference to infidelity is that in most instances – it takes two. Agreed, the onus is on the one who decided to frolic in the supposed greener pasture, but that doesn’t mean the one left behind isn’t responsible on some level as well. A lot of people don’t like to hear that, nor believe it. I understand that, but the poor-wounded-deceived-me syndrome isn’t allowing for self-examination. Nor is: How could this have happened to me?! Since I’ve experienced infidelity first-hand, I totally understand how this particular circumstance can cause all kinds of personal turmoil and pain, but that doesn’t mean I was innocent of wrongdoing. I readily admit I was responsible for some of the issues that led my ex to believe his only recourse was to do a really stupid thing. I didn’t realize the depth of this at the time, but as we all know, hindsight is ridiculously keen. However, I did finally understand and know (therapy is a wonder) that certain parts of my behavior were detrimental, but unfortunately, my ex had already turned the corner and I didn’t have the opportunity to implement my new tools.
With infidelity, it seems most “victims” shirk personal accountability because they’re mired in feelings of being wronged. They’re angry, bitter, and resentful. Hey, I get it. Most have to experience all this in order to get to the other side, but a component of the healing process is to recognize your part. It goes without saying the same holds true for the one who sought solace elsewhere. It’s counterproductive to fall “victim” to this disruptive event without taking responsibility. You don’t want your bad habits to follow you, and they will unless you make a concerted effort to become more aware of your own shortcomings – we all have them.
I never felt like a victim when my husband cheated on me. I didn’t have time to take on that mantle. I needed to stay above water and deal. Thankfully, my self-esteem never suffered. I was already well-formed at that point. I was solid enough in my own person to know I had the wherewithal to forge ahead and create another life. Yes, it sucked, really sucked, but I was never mired in self-pity. Of course, I absolutely wish it had never happened, but I didn’t have the luxury of “what ifs” either. Seven years later bits of pain still linger, but only briefly and very sporadically. My ex expressed his remorse early on. We’ve been able to remain connected and in each other’s life. Some find that hard to do. Forgiving, okay; forgetting, not so much. But, it is easier to move on knowing full well that each of us carries our own set of burdens and baggage. The mirror taught me that.
* More of my story is found in Chap. 8, Bits of My Backstory
(For the record, I have also been the other woman. That will be explored another time …)