Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practise to deceive. How true, Mr Scott, how true!
Let’s face it, at some point in our lives most of us will experience at least one of those two states: being the wronged one, or the other one. Being deceived, or actively doing the deceiving – whether in our juvenile days, in adult partnerships, or in marriage. It’s a skill we learn from a very tender age, and we keep refining it throughout our lives.
Or maybe some of you have been lucky enough to survive a long-term relationship with no impurity whatsoever? No jealousy, no suspicion, no tangled webs? Not even involving mild flirtation, with the unspoken intent for more? Not even a guilty email sent to a former flame, definitely to be kept secret from your current flame? No? None of that?
You’ve never experienced either status? As in being wronged or doing the wrong? You just can’t conceive of being unfaithful to the person you love, and neither can you imagine the prospect of them being unfaithful to you? Perfect trust on both sides?
Ah, but there’s the rub. How do you know?
First time round for me, I did know. But that was okay (eventually), because my erstwhile hubby and I talked about it. Honesty was the key. No webs. Soon I even found an uplifting kind of release in being single again, being independent and, slowly but surely, striking up a new kind of friendship with my estranged spouse. And then, barely six months down the road, love was in the air again! – this time for an astute guy who questioned the whole concept of being in love. But never mind, he was a philosopher. The astuteness was all part of his intrigue. Sexy beyond belief.
Second time round, he was the one who didn’t know. But it didn’t take long for him to find out. My weaving skills weren’t tight enough, as it transpired. His unravelling of my web is certainly not a memory I would care to add to my PLAYBACK wish-list of Life’s Best Moments.
Third time round, it was once again poor hapless moi who didn’t know. And that wasn’t okay. By the time the philosopher and I talked about it, it was too late. Honesty would have helped, but … well, it didn’t, on account of its total absence.
And now, a year on, I’m living in a different world, with shifting boundaries and precepts. Honesty? Do we really want that in our lives? Some honesty – yes of course, that would be nice, but 100% honesty? Only if we’re masochists.
I find this new world quite liberating. Same house, same town, same country, but an altogether outre kind of existence. There’s a whole new set of equations in the ether; another ‘someone’ out there who doesn’t know. I’ve now been relegated the status both of the wronged woman, and the other woman. And guess what? I rather like the duality of it. After all, having suffered the demoted rank of being wronged, now the uplifting rank of being the other is like a breath of fresh air. Or a gale force wind. Or a trip to heaven. Femme fatale or what? Hah! It’s a very earthy, sensual, amoral heaven, which I guess is an oxymoron in itself, but what the hell?
When you’ve been deceived, and served your unfair sentence on the misery rack, then funny things start happening in your innermost being. Your emotional equilibrium becomes a bit lopsided. Your sense of morality likewise. Your identity becomes deliciously confused. You remove the occasional pricking of guilt from your subconscious to your unconscious, where it can do no harm. And you tell it to bloody well stay there. Your life becomes a rhetorical question. What does it matter, anyway? you keep asking yourself. Only not really asking.
At the end of the day, to quote the good old English bard: All’s fair in love and war. Maybe some of you wouldn’t agree with that, but seeing as such things have been going on as long as homo sapiens have walked the planet (did Stone Age lovers know the fine art of deceit?), there isn’t much that can be done about it. So there you are.
I, for one, would rather just accept Mr Shakespeare’s words as the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, and lead a calmer life. Better that than to rant and rave about being the hapless wronged one, or beat yourself up about being the heartless other one. As for being both of them at the same time … well, once again to quote the most famous writer who ever lived (no arguments here, please; he is), the world is your oyster!
At the end of the day, we’re all human, and to be human is to err, right? Erring is okay in matters of the heart, right? That’s why crimes of passion are treated with more leniency.
If some of you out there think all this is not okay, and that my analytical skills have flown out the window, together with both my husbands, then I apologise in advance. Maybe we all ought to be arrested.
But then … wouldn’t that mean the entire world would become a gargantuan prison, rather than our very own, personalised oyster?