I was a good child, strictly brought up with religious values. At a catholic school where we were sent on retreat to “think about our sins” sitting by the stream at Aylesford priory, I racked my poor brains for hours…
Once I said goodbye to religion in my 20s whilst manifestly a “good person” I didn’t really like myself – a tendency to manipulate to get ahead and an absolutely terrible gossip. There was nothing so interesting as everyone else’s business scandalised about – especially my soi-disant friends.
The apotheosis of self hatred came towards my late twenties when I was promoted above two friends of mine and expected to fire them. I duly did using full HR cold protocols, with none of today’s sensitivities when I do the same thing. I could not look myself in the mirror but when I did I saw piggy eyes and a self satisfied, dishonest face. I experienced karma when a girl came onto my team who was better than me and proceeded to manipulate me out.
I have restructured businesses a few times now and whilst often it’s unappreciated, I’ve always sought to find the best way for each individual so that I never go there again. I haven’t always succeeded and there are people out there with intense dislike of me- some fair, some unfair in my view.
The death knell for my marriage and the reason I thought I understood my current lover’s situation so well (it turns out I was wrong and his was different) was when I fell in love with someone else. My marriage had been pretty much sexless which had led me to feel unattractive and pretty disgusting really, so when someone else wanted me and I desperately wanted him too, I went home and told my husband. I look back on that period without the same sense of shame as I have about this period – perhaps I feel naïveté can no longer be excused at my age, but I’m sure I felt shame immediately afterwards. Going back into that marriage I fell into two years of self justification, misery and self loathing – determined to right the situation before I was 40.
For the last 5 years it has felt like I’ve finally gained self knowledge and truth. I don’t lie. I’ve not had reason to feel shame. I’m convinced that is why my work and networks have taken off so roundly.
And now there is this. The last year has found me in a fog of unrequited desire, of needing to win at almost all cost of not caring the impact on him and his family – just sure I knew what was best for him and for me.
There have been times over the last six months where I have thought I had come to terms with it being over. But I still had him on a pedestal; we still had a relationship of sorts and I still longed to hear from him. Now I finally see what we have brought each other to. That he is a liar who has cheated again and again. That his wife now can genuinely stand as the innocent victim. That I have colluded and at times even led him down this path. We almost had to take it to this desperate and destructive conclusion before we saw this. Now I am sure he sees it clearly. I see it too.
I know he hates himself. I am afraid he hates me too. I don’t like myself much either.
Does everyone have times when they veer so spectacularly off course? If I learnt from my early manipulative self to stand up for handling people with respect and not to be a prurient gossip; if I learnt from the death of my marriage to always tell the truth; what is there to be learnt from this? I have a few ideas.