Angela Kelsey

Tell the Story

Keeping Our Story

Filed in Current Affairs :: May 31, 2009

I watched the Tilda Spitzer and Elizabeth Edwards
husband-betrayal stories, on the lookout for clues to my own husband-betrayal story.  I imagined
that they surely had experienced private moments of
thinking, oh, that explains that night, or, now I know why I had
that feeling that something wasn't right. 

I speculated about their public reactions–Spitzer's loyal stoicism and
Edwards's public fileting of the story–and their private motives. 
During my marriage I tended toward the Tilda Spitzer model.  Now, since Lee's remarriage and our divorce and Lee's death, I'm going public, and wondering why I stayed as long as I did.

This morning I read the O Magazine interview with Elizabeth Edwards, excerpted online here: Elizabeth Edwards' Oprah Interview – O Magazine – Oprah.com.  In the print version, Oprah asks this question:

O: So after the tabloid story, did you immediately make a decision that you would stay with John, no matter how thick the story got?
EE: No.  I didn't know.  I wanted to sit down with him.  I wanted to scream at him.  I wanted him to have to look me in the face. And I also wanted to protect him.  I wanted all of us to come out of it like we had been, so we could keep our story (ital. mine).

Oprah's followup question focuses on the "protect him" part, and I lived that motive, too, but now I  am more interested in the last line: "so we could keep our story."

Yes, keeping our story.  Keeping the story we've painstakingly crafted and protected for years.  The story that we're happy, that our husbands are faithful, that our marriages are real, that we're not being abused. Keeping the story, like tending a flame, becomes a life's purpose, and it's consuming work when the story is a lie.

Keeping my story, I endured private humiliations in silence until finally a right combination of outside circumstances and inner change made me stand up and say, No, that's not my story anymore.  This is my story.  This is the truth. And the new story becomes the new flame to tend.

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