Six or seven years ago, my cousin married a lovely, kind, soft-spoken woman from the US. I became close to both of them over the years, and enjoyed my friendships with them immensely. This past year, their marriage problems became too much - they separated and are now getting divorced. N (the woman) was forced to move back home to the States into her parent's home, because her citizenship papers had never been completed. She was jobless, and penniless except for her parents' support. She didn't like having to ask her husband for money despite the fact that her financial situation kept her unbearably trapped. Finally she moved into a rented house and found a part-time job, after months of misery. She's now attending night school as well.
The separation was excruciating for her. She was not the one who wanted to give up. Her husband, on the other hand, felt he needed to 'find himself', and proceeded to go on trips and eat at expensive restaurants, buy new furniture and gadgets, and finally move into a bigger apartment. The money he used to do this was his own, but was available because N had taken over the finances and made a budget that allowed them to build up some savings, which he had never been able to do before. He was living it up, making the most of his work trips to California, and spending most of those trips with a mutual female friend of theirs.
I went to visit my cousin in July, and he told me how happy he was. He told me how much he liked this friend (T), and that he was trying not to fall in love with her. I asked him point blank whether they were having a sexual relationship and he said yes. I knew he did not want his wife to know about this, so I said nothing over the following months. I kept his secret even when N would talk to me on the phone about how much it hurt that he was doing the things with T she'd wanted him to do with her, but at least they were just friends, at least she knew there was nothing sexual to it. I had to clench my teeth and keep his lie, I had to lie by omission to one of my best friends, for months. It hurt me so much to know how miserable, poor and trapped she was living in the States with no friends, no job, nothing. She still does not even have a couch, coffee table or chair other than her computer chair. She cannot even afford the surgery she needs for her thumb, which is becoming ever more painful and crippling every day. She is busier now, and she now knows there is no hope of getting her marriage back, but she's very alone.
Finally, a couple of weeks ago, she told me she knew about her husband and T's sleeping together. I assumed that meant she knew the whole story, so I blurted out that I'd known since July, and that I was very sorry that I couldn't tell her. She was confused - apparently K (my cousin, her husband) had only told her that he'd slept with T the last time he'd seen her, in October. He'd told her a partial truth. She was extremely upset when he'd "confessed", and called me very shortly after to talk to me. So now she knew what I knew. The next time she talked to him she confronted him, saying she knew he'd been with T for a lot longer than he'd said. She told him that someone had told her. Of course, he knew it was me - he doesn't have many close friends, and probably there is nobody besides me that speaks to both of them now. (N has told me that most of the rest of our family ignores her on Facebook now. They probably don't want to get in the middle of things, but I still think it's callous to not say hi once in awhile or comment on her posts.) So K told her that he was going to confront me. She told me what had happened. I said, fine, let him confront me, I did nothing wrong.
I waited, and waited to hear from him so I could explain what had happened. I've heard nothing. Tonight I discovered that both he and his best friend had 'unfriended' me on Facebook. There was no message stating that he was angry with me or wanted an explaination. Just - poof - he's carved me from his life. I think that's cowardly, and ridiculous. After all, our family is celebrating his birthday in a week, so unless he doesn't come, he'll have to see me.
I sent him a short email stating that if he has a problem with me, he should say it to my face, rather than just unfriending me from Facebook. I said "we're family, don't I even get a chance to defend myself?" I doubt I will get a response - obviously it's his way to ignore problems and hope they'll go away. After all, that is exactly what led to his divorce - he refused to get marriage counselling, refused to try to work things out with N. If I don't hear from him by tomorrow, he's getting another email with my side of things whether he wants it or not. It is absolutely unfair for him to condemn me (and throw away our friendship) without finding out my side of the story.
Furthermore, he put me in a position to have to lie to N for months, and now he's blaming me when he gets caught in that lie? He knows how much I care for N, and yet he didn't blink once about how I had to lie to her for him. Anyone who knows me knows how much I LOATHE lies. I do not ever lie, especially about important things. And yet, family loyalty persuaded me that I should let him come to her with the truth in his own time. Family loyalty which apparently means NOTHING to the one I lied for. He can just toss me away like a used gadget he has no use for anymore. Were these last months of friendship only his way trying to buy my silence? All the time we spend together talking and laughing and sharing - that meant nothing to him. All I've been to him is someone to share his secret happiness with, someone to then KEEP that secret despite how painful it was for me to do so. Once the secret is out, he has no more use for me. Well, I guess I now know how fickle his relationships are. He throws away his wife, the best thing that ever happened to him, just because he refuses to WORK on the relationship, and now he throws away the only family member that voluntarily sought to be come closer to him.
Have a good life of tossing people away when they become inconvenient, K. Have a good life full of your gadgets and $400 dollar steaks and buying your friendships. Have a good life hiding in your work and behind your computer, forever convincing yourself how smart you are, and that being smart is the only thing that matters. Have a good life never admitting your mistakes. I learned a long time ago that being right doesn't hold a candle to being loved. I pray you'll find that out yourself before it's too late.