I never knew him. I really didn't. I knew who he wanted to be. I knew who he tried to be. I knew pieces of him. But he did not let me into the whole truth of who he really was. Sometimes, I'm not even sure he knew. He said yes, when he wanted to say no. He held on to things that really did not matter (the day before our marriage ended, he was still angry at me about something I'd said on our third date). He accused me once of creating an imaginary "us" - but the truth is, he created an imaginary version of himself, an invisible cage for himself. He pushed down what he wanted out of the relationship until it exploded out of him in anger. His experiment* at being in a long-term relationship failed. And then, he walked away like a child throwing away a broken toy rather than work on the relationship.
*I knew it was an experiment when the Sunday before our divorce, he sat in my kitchen and said he'd reconsider working on us because he didn't want to be that 35 year old guy whose 3 year marriage failed. Not that he was concerned about us or wanted an us. He just did not want to fail in the eyes of others - I was just along for the ride.
Like Odin's birds, anger and resentment have become my emotional companions. I resent that he picked me, my life, my family, and my emotions to be part of his little drama. I resent that he was so weak-willed as to let other people determine the course of his thoughts and our relationship. I resent that he never understood how visioning his life without an "us" (for years) created a path of acceptance in his mind. I resent that he never acknowledged that affairs start emotionally long before anything else happens and kept the emotional part of the affair in place by staying in contact with her while "working" on us. I resent that he has never and will never own up to the betrayal of talking about a future with me while planning a future with someone else. I resent that he walked away - emotionally and physically - while stringing me along with "maybe" for months I could have spent healing. My anger comes from his actions and my choice to believe him.
I don't hate "Peter". (My hatred tends to be of the scorched earth variety.) But, I will never forgive him. However Oprah defines forgiveness, for me forgiveness has the Christian connotation of continuing to love or loving despite the hurt. I can't do that. I absolutely believe some acts are unforgivable.
It was unforgivable that he decided one year into our marriage that we would not last - and spent the next two years looking for a reason to leave. It's unforgivable that he lied to himself and me by choosing to tamp down his emotional requirements of the marriage and not sharing. It's unforgivable that he justified his affair with my request for an honest discussion about our relationship. It's unforgivable that he shared pieces of us - and my secrets - without my permission to the least-trustworthy person I've ever had the misfortune to meet. It is unforgivable that he lied to me by taking off his ring and sleeping on the couch - lest he cheat on her - for weeks I spent asking what was wrong. It's unforgivable that he kept her in our lives under false pretenses as his "friend", despite my discomfort with the relationship (which turned out to be valid). It is unforgivable that after his affair "ended", he lied to me by not telling me for months and said our issues were a 1000 other things - until he was confronted. It's unforgivable that he maintained an emotional relationship with her while telling me he did not. It's unforgivable that he used a half a dozen excuses to "see" that we were done rather than talking about our relationship or working on our relationship with me. It's unforgivable that he broke the family we were building by quitting.
I'm not an easy person. I see people for what they are - the good and the bad. I have high standards for myself, limited patience and very little emotional softness. I like to have things my way. I don't love easily. I'm much too honest. (To this day - I regret not one word I said to "Peter" because I always said my truth; what I regret is that I said them in ways intended to hurt him.) I can compromise, but not if I'm lied to about your needs. What I do have is absolute commitment to the people I love and utter faith in their good. If I love you, I will support you and your dreams forever. I learned the value of people over things a long time ago. "Peter" did not accept that I never needed him in my life; he said I made him feel unnecessary. I wanted him in my life - and that is a much higher honor he never understood or valued, no matter what words I spoke.
"Peter" once told me time and distance give him a rosier perspective on relationships. I don't work like that. I will remember the bad things - how he made me cry that July 2009 night, how he always belittled my point of view in interpersonal relationships, how he tried to teach me lessons like I was a child, how he emotionally fluxed from high to low on an alarmingly unpredictable cycle - until I stop remembering. Until the day I die, I will regret my relationship with "Peter". I will regret I invested that much time and energy in someone who did not value his true self - let alone us. I will regret that I stopped being me - in my career, in my dress, in my food intake, in every aspect of myself - to try to make him happy. I will regret that I allowed myself to be blinded by his acting and intentions when his actions were so clear. But I'll stop remembering the little things soon and then the big things won't hurt as much.
Take-away - Words are difficult with heart-felt emotions. But I guess the truth does set you free.
(Soundtrack: Goyte - Somebody that I Used to Know, Dido - See You When You're 40)
Peter - if you ever read this, I suggest you heed the the wise words of @BlondFacade before you start your next experiment in relationships - You can start over, pour a new layer of cement, but unless you fix what lies underneath, it'll crack eventually too...