Discover more from The Remarkable Fools Letter
leave the cupcakes alone
a mistake I'll never forget
Some of you may notice that I occasionally have typographical errors here in the FoolsLetter. This is partly due to laziness. Well that doesn’t accurately capture the process of someone who writes every day. I also leave errors to maintain a clear sense of authenticity. It would take me a lot of work to get Chat GPT to make the same kind of mistakes that I do. They are random, even more than some of a large language model’s most weird hallucinations. The main reason though? I like to think that I am transparent, a living example of human imperfection and remarkable foolishness.
I have some previous posts where I talked about how my wife was the only long-term relationship I had. Though I did refer to another woman as ‘the mistake’. Now, don't get me wrong; dating and being involved with her for as long as I was, was a mistake.
My biggest mistake with her was dating her in the first place. Relationships built on a swampy foundation of ‘convenience’ have all of the solidity of an ongoing, drunk dialed booty call once expose to the light of day.
Relationships and Distractions
Before the mistake that I was willing to share,I had another another long-term relationship. It ended due to a mistake I don’t like to talk about. We were close, well-suited and passionate. She was beautiful, playful, fit, radiant and scrappy. An endurance athlete, she had attitude, a brilliant mind and great future. She had a career and an excellent education. She was going places despite dragging along the foolish millstone that you’re now reading.
I don't know what made me do it. Not the dating part. Given how we played, I know why I fell so hard for her. The mistake though? It was as if it was my own self-hatred that drove me away. She was too good for me. What the hell did she see in me anyway? The story in my head was unkind.
I was just waiting for the day that she would either snap out of it, come to her senses and dump my worthless ass. Either that, or she’d reveal she was from the planet Zorkon and was merely here to harvest human seemen as part of some great intergalactic experiment.
Any idea where this is going fellas?
Over time, things in our relationship changed. Stuff got difficult. She became weary of my raving, my mood swings and my impulsiveness. The spontaneity and lack of responsibility she found so liberating in me turned to frustration as I burned through jobs and money. Her dedication and focus began to feel like a prison. Our love started to lose it’s luster.
Together, we were going to make magic. That was, of course, until my ADHD brain, which was at the time undiagnosed, got distracted. I got distracted by another. I won't go into details; I'll just say this: I was wrong, it was awful, and throughout the process, I was confused. I fucked around and I found out.
I found out that infidelity is not worth it. I found out that infidelity is not easy. Exciting? No. Terrifying, shame filled, ugly and painful - all combined with a big confusing chemical dump of lust and self hatred.
The First Rule About Fight Club
All of this happened just as the movie Fight Club was released. When I was behaving so terribly by cheating on her, a war raged inside of me. The final scene really resonated with me. There, we see Edward Norton beating the shit out of himself. That didn’t merely resonate with me. That’s what I actually did. My head, face, hands, knees and elbows all sported the cuts and bruises of physical self abuse. I smashed my head through Gyproc walls. I punched doors and road signs. And if a shame wave arose as I held a hockey stick? Smashing myself in the shins ws a source of quick relief.
Have any of you dudes done this? Have you ever inflicted physical pain on yourself willingly, knowingly in order to have a breath of air or a bit of relief from the emotional torture you’ve caused yourself?
The Internal Turmoil of a Chicken Shit Man
I knew what a fuck up I was. I knew or at least had an idea what the impact of my actions, my indiscretion, my betrayal would have been were she to have discovered what I was doing. The agony was overwhelming. I told her what I did. I told her about my infidelity.
In retrospect? I don’t think that me telling her was for her. It was for me. I told her in hopes that she would get mad, kick me to the curb and leave me. I put it on her to choose. I did the weak assed play of making my shit hers. My torment became her hell.
This was a really rough trade. In my confession, I experienced a moment of relief. In doing so, I was so selfish. In my relief, I transfered a metric tonne of my shame and self hatred to her. Merry Christmas darling…
Then? It got worse. I behaved in ways that were devastating to us both. I remember one phone call she was on. It was an interview for her dream job. We were traveling at the time and had been in a fight right up until just before her call. During her call, I persisted and pestered, and my persistence and pestering caused her voice to waver. She began to unravel on the phone; she couldn't finish the interview, despite being hand-picked for the position.
My chickenshit need for relief added another betrayal to the betrayals I'd already caused. It was a fucking shit sandwich stacked on a turd platter garnished with the splattering bile yellow sneezes of a fart that had more to say.
We were fighting because I told her about the affair. We were fighting to stay together. Even though we didn’t have kids, she hung in. She tried to endure. Betrayals like the ones I experienced at the hands of bullies as a child are easier to set aside. Sure they come up from time to time for me, but I don’t spend time in bed with those people.
Intimate betrayals are worse. When we betray our lovers, our partners, our spouses, their entire world view gets turned upside down. They question their judgement. Worst still, they know how great we can be. They can see the best in us even when we can’t. It creates the kind of confusion that wreaks havoc on the soul. My own self hatred became hers.
Then Came ‘The Others’
We tried to work on it. We went to counseling. That’s were I found out about the book “How Can I Forgive You”? She was invested in me. I was invested in her her. I ended the affair. But then? Others, friends and family found out. My betrayal had obvious impacts on her. Everyone could see.
Why don’t you leave him? He’s no good for you? You’re too good for him? How can you tolerate such treatment? If I were you I’d be gone in a heartbeat.
Well meaning and judgemental friends goose stepped constantly through her psyche. Yes. I agreed with them. How could she stay? She agreed with these judgements, but still she persisted. These well meaning voices telling her to leave me only deepened her hurt and enhanced her shame and self loathing.
We Persisted For a Year
On some level, I had relief. I didn't have to worry about what would happen next. I didn't have to wonder or fear for discovery, for either an ongoing infidelity or one from the past. You see, dude, it's not about hurt.
During this time, I made every mistake possible. I apologized, hoping for relief, and was shocked, appalled, even offended when my apology wasn't enough. When three, four, five, six months, even a year later, I would say, "Are we still going back to this?"
I believed that by apologizing and working through it that I was entitled to some sort of relief.
Six months after that, I came home, and there was a note: "Jim, this is too much for me. I can't be expected to accept the unacceptable. I am unable to move beyond this, and I can see how my tortured pain continues to cause you pain. I wish you well."
Sometimes forgiveness isn't possible. Sometimes looking for forgiveness is too much. We can't forgive the unforgivable. Sometimes people can move past it, but it takes a lot of water under the bridge for that to happen. These kind of betrayals freeze the waters of a relationship solid.
Indiscretions and Confessions
So gents, here’s some advice from someone who’s loved then flushed their love down the toilet.
If you are tempted by a lovely little cupcake when you are already with someone else?
Don’t do it. If things are bad? Talk about them. If you find that difficult? Man the fuck up. You do difficult things already. Having strained, painful, emotionally dense conversations can be confusing. You’re likely not good at it. Embrace the suck. Hang in.
If that doesn’t work. Man up. End your primary relationship. Move on. Don’t put someone through that kind of betrayal.
But don’t fuck around on someone you love. Even if you get close? Find a way out. But don’t fuck around. Emotional connections with other women can be tricky enough, but when the dreams are made flesh and something concrete happens? The mental stew of fucked up brain chemicals is about as healthy as a blender full of Big Macs mainlined into your veins.
If you fuck up and fuck around? Really think long and hard about telling her. What do you want to accomplish from telling her? Who benefits from your partner knowing? What do you want from your relationship?
Do you need relief, go find a priest, confess. Pretend to be Catholic and go to confession. Better yet? Hire a shrink or a men’s coach who can help you navigate this. This pain is bigger than you. Do not expect her help with this. Do not put this on her. Not her monkeys, not her fucking circus brother.
And then? Notice how you’re treating her. Do not treat her badly hoping that she’ll relieve you from your misery by kicking you to the curb. That’s industrial level factory farming chicken shit behaviour. You’re better than that bro. And if you don’t believe me? Be better than that. Fucking take some fucking responsibility for yourself.
The Balancing Act of Self-Assertion
Finally, understand this: this is not a mere betrayal like what I experienced in the abuse and the torture of the bullies at school. Betrayals hurt more the closer a person is to us. They hurt because they know how great we can be, and they are likely deeply invested in their potential. Because of this, these kinds of betrayals are frequently the hardest to move beyond. I've worked with countless people in this situation; it's not impossible, but from what I can tell, it's the hardest line you've ever walked. Somehow, you’ll need to maintain your integrity and include yourself.
"Hey, babe. I understand that I hurt you, and what I did was unacceptable. But please note my most recent and most consistent behavior in being transparent, and I'm here for you. Please allow yourself to be angry, and I will be a container for your grief. If you’ve fucked up and strayed, you’re carrying around a septic tank from a summer camp for a while. It’s the bucket you need to bear, the receptacle and processor of the giant torrent of elephant diarrhea that's you brought into your relationship.
Endurance and Healing
In these kinds of situations, people ask me, "How long will it take? How long do I have to do this?" It's a tough question to hear from a desperate dude who feels such shame and devastation for what they've done. The only answer is as long as it takes, as long as you are willing to hang in while not allowing yourself to be annihilated.
That’s where it gets really tricky. Some dudes just internalize their self-hatred. Their narrative turns from one of entitlement to one where they are an irredeemable sinner. They run with Norton's character from the Fight Club. They decide they are bad and constantly kick the shit out of themselves mentally and emotionally. They stay true to the first rule of fight club and they don’t talk about fight club.
Find other dudes. Get support. Talk. Hang out. You are not just the one terrible thing that you did. You can never fully heal with your partner if you don’t also move beyond your shame.
The Path of Healing
It's never that cut and dry. It's never that clear. The healing in these situations really depends on the life worlds of both participants and their strength, endurance, and stoic ability to hang in, feel the pain and decide, "Yes, this is the pain I choose. This is the path I take, and this is the fate I'm willing to endure."
Vanilla Perfume and Self-Reflection
Finally, if the person you had this indiscretion was someone who has slathered herself with vanilla perfume, you don't need to kick the shit out of yourself. Come find me, and I will gladly pummel you into the earth. What the fuck are you thinking?
Never fuck a cupcake my bros. Never fuck a cupcake.
Stay foolish, my friends. Love the people who love you, and if you really love them, leave the cup cakes alone.