October 27, 2019 at 12:08 pm #320037
Gandhi is credited for having said this, “If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. … We need not wait to see what others do.”
I had an insight Sunday morning and that quote came at the tail end of it. Saturday nite, I watched a movie called Butterfly on a Wheel. It’s title is an allusion to a line of Alexander Pope’s poem Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot. The exact line reads, Who breaks a butterfly upon a wheel? It’s interpretation asks us to ponder why would anyone run the gamut from retribution when the act in question is considerably minor. The act in question for this movie is infidelity.
Neil appears to have it all. A beautiful wife and daughter whom he dotes on daily. He works in the advertisement business and seamlessly closes the most sought after deals, and he is about to get a huge raise. His wife, Abbie, learns of Neil’s year-long affair with a secretary from work who is his superior’s wife except he doesn’t know that. His superior, Tom, also learns about their trysts and collaborates with Abbie to have Neil endure a full twenty-hours of the exact pain that they were subject to during the past year. At the end of the movie, we realize that Neil represents a living lie. He moves up the company latter by cutting corners, he cheats on his wife and goes about his entire day concealing to his family, coworkers, but most importantly to himself that side of him.
I empathized most with Abbie. I wondered what her internal dialogue entailed after having found out about the affair. I assumed it was charged with betrayal and resentment. One can only imagine, right? And the questions that raced through her mind that nite as she lay next Neil. For the sake of this discussion, I will assume that one of those thoughts was this: “Why do I attract men like Neil into my life” Human beings are attracted to those who are much like themselves in both good and bad characteristics.
Then, I thought, ‘Why would she punish him in that fashion?’ Well, her reprisal was devised and carried out surreptitiously, which required a habitual façade on her part. That lead me to believe that for one year she too represented a lie much like Neil. All of us have the potential to hurt one another. Whether or not we decide to act on those affronts is what demarcates the moral realm into good and bad. Neil humiliated his wife and Abbie tortured her husband’s soul. They hurt others. Hence the attraction. They have not changed that aspect of their personality. They have not freed themselves from that viscous cycle.
How does one do that?
First, become aware of such behaviors. Jung’s concept of the shadow is a great way to do that. Ask yourself, ‘What are ten things about certain people that I like?’ Those are characteristics that we have the potential to develop. Then ask, ‘What are ten things about certain people that I dislike?’ Those are characteristics that we repress about ourselves. They help explain why we become upset at people for behaving in ways that we find annoying or irritating. We condemn them for those behaviors when in reality we are condemning ourselves. At that moment, we feel and connect to matching low level vibrations. It’s a psychological boil that is being picked at and the pain we feel is a message that the boil is still alive. It needs to be completely cut off in order for us not react in kind to people’s perceived affronts. Second, accept that we act on those behaviors. Third, commit to change. Fourth, ask yourself, ‘Who do I want to become?’ And finally, act on those changes.
At first, it may be difficult to change those behaviors especially in cases where they have been with the person for the majority of their life. I suggest to practice forgiveness and gratitude. Forgiveness of oneself and of those who hurt us. Remember that forgiveness is a skill. If practiced it every day, you will free yourself and change will come easier.
In closing, I have one more question: ‘How do we walk around in a world full of shadow traps?’ As the individuals we were created to be. Every being on this planet was born out of love. That is who we are. Gandhi is right. Once we change ourselves the tendencies in the world will also change.October 28, 2019 at 9:47 am #320243
Dear Jose Luis:
I want to understand your position regarding the Neil-Abbie story, therefore I ask: if you were Abbie, and you just found out that your spouse has been having a year long affair, what would you have done?
anitaNovember 2, 2019 at 3:51 pm #320991
if i found out that my spouse had been having a year long affair i would have left them. no questions asked because i don’t tolerate cheating. see, i believe that humans being aren’t inherently monogamous. and the reason i believe this to be true occurred when i posed this question to myself: when i was in a relationship, was i ever attracted to somebody else? and the answer was yes. this is when i realized that monogamy is a choice. now, whenever i get into another relationship, i will have a conversation with my girlfriend about monogamy, and if we both agree to treat our relationship as such then it is our responsibility to hold ourselves accountable and to respect the choice we made as a couple. if it is broken, then i don’t see any reason to continue being with that person. so the answer to your question is, “it depends.” it depends on how mature the individual is when faced with infidelity. it depends on their values and beliefs because those dictate our actions.
so now i return the question over to you. what would you have done? …November 3, 2019 at 7:31 am #321093
Dear Jose Luis:
If I was Abbie, married to Neil who “works in the advertisement business and seamlessly closes the most sought after deals”, and who was having a “year-long affair with a secretary from work who is his superior’s wife “, I would immediately move out of the common bedroom shared with Neil and secure my own, private bedroom in the house. Then as soon as possible I would seek the best divorce attorney in the area and hire that person to represent me, follow that attorney’s guidance and proceed with a divorce.
anitaNovember 3, 2019 at 11:15 am #321121
yours was an interesting response. i may be wrong ,but i sensed punitive measures taken against your theoretical husband. would you elaborate on your reasons for taking that course of action?
jose luis paez …November 3, 2019 at 11:39 am #321135
Dear Jose Luis:
Do you mean that moving away from a shared bedroom with a husband who is having an affair with another woman is punitive, as in unfair, or … unkind?
anitaNovember 3, 2019 at 12:55 pm #321157
it was your referencing to the line i wrote “works in the advertisement business and seamlessly closes the most sought after deals” linked to your statement of hiring “best divorce attorney in the area and hire that person to represent me” that made me consider that action as having punitive measures. the three words “best divorce attorney” makes me think highly expensive and since your theoretical husband was unfaithful, in a court of law he would have to foot the bill for not only his attorney, but also yours. most women i’ve spoken to who were cheated on stated that they felt they were slighted by their husband’s infidelity and reacted and acted in kind.
jose luis paez …November 3, 2019 at 1:30 pm #321167
Dear Jose Luis:
I want to think more about your question to me, or challenge, I should say, and answer when I am back to the computer in about 17 hours from now.
anitaNovember 4, 2019 at 2:40 pm #321383
‘How do we walk around in a world full of shadow traps?’ As the individuals we were created to be. Every being on this planet was born out of love. That is who we are. Gandhi is right. Once we change ourselves the tendencies in the world will also change.
Love, one of those words we think we ‘know’. I suspect that if our expectation of love is that we never experience pain, as the song goes, we don’t know love at all. Perhaps then, the shadow traps are not so much traps but gateways to a better relationship to Love ‘as it is’ the pain and the joy. A love transparent to the transcendent blossoming when we are it.
There is a character in the TV show ‘A Million Little Things’ whose Husband had/has a drinking problem, cheated on her with one of their best friends which resulted in a child and has chosen to stay in relationship with her husband, family and friends.
The expectation as we watch is for the drama of divorce and separation. She has been betrayed. We learn that over the last few years she wasn’t fully engaged in the marriage however that is no excuse for the betrayal. She/we deserve better, society expects/demands it, justice demands it, the cost of betrayal is separation, everyone knows that.
We watch puzzled, the character is determined to respond and make a real choice that comes from within, who she is. There have been no ultimatums, no demands or for that matter any talk of forgiveness. Only Space. Is this a unrealistic character on tv or is it possible… We watch, She’s done something….
The character has chosen to choose over ego. This is not a sacrificing of love for love, but Love coming from loving herself. The experience of betrayal opening her up to herself, she is choosing… and has made herself more. She is expanded.
There is a hermetic riddle. As above so below, as below so above. We are influenced yet in the same moment we influence. That is not a paradox. We are part of the whole, inseparable, smaller then small and bigger then big… we are the change we see.