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Monday, 31 March 2008

I Am Not Eliot Spitzer!

By Just Nobody Now of Sometimes It's Good To Be Nobody

Don’t ask if forgiveness is even possible.
Forget others: One never forgives oneself!

December 13, 2008 will be an important date in my life, in my world and also in the life of my legally-wedded wife. Golden wedding anniversary, they call it?

Eliot Spitzer of New York did just recently what I did 22 years ago. I publicly asked forgiveness for having led another life - for as long as 25 of the 28 years my wife and I had been married to each other at that time.

My wife and our two children had known over those years that my frequent trips away from home were not purely business-related trips.

These trips were my way of finding time elsewhere, often thousands of kilometres away, with someone else in my life. At times, these trips were close to my family home and with me was “the other woman” from far away.

In my own small way, wherever I had lived, like Eliot Spitzer, I had been a public figure.

Unlike Spitzer, I never ever had to pay any woman for sex or any other favours. All the women in my life were only too happy to spend time with me, often sharing with me whatever we spent on luxury holidays and even on some simple trips to not-too-expensive spots.

The women in my out-of-wedlock world were never one-night-stands. Relationships had lasted months, years and in one case, for 18 years. Strange bondings that often reflected the influence of Van Gogh’s Lust for Life.

My wife and kids had never been part of my life all those years when I had been on various voyages. I close my eyes and see once again what mattered for me in those years:

Live life, See the world, Gamble away nights on the Strip in Las Vegas or in Atlantic City, Monte Carlo or Macau. I went out to discover joys. Music, theatre, ballets, opera, art vernissages and wine tasting sessions, poetic soirees. Summer sailings from Perpignan to the Spanish coast, two nights as guest of the Chogyal of Sikkim when Hope Cook was at home there...

Splendid nights camping out in the deserts near Bamiyan, in the shadows of Herat, near monasteries in Solo Khumbu listening to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band on deserted beaches close to the Russian border in Trabzon...

Winding my way through hukkah-and-hooris spots in Istanbul alleys, taking in comforting, caressing warm hands in a perfumed bath tub in Makati suburbs, queuing up to buy a 50 kopek ticket at the Bolshoi in Moscow, or laughing away through a champagne-dinner watching American and Japanese eyes ogling at the beauties of the Moulin Rouge. Holding someone tight during the highs and lows of the long Space Mountain ride in Florida’s Magic Kingdom or when scuba diving off the Koh Samui coast.

My mission all those years was: Make someone happy. Take joy in making that loved one happy.

In that quest, as I found out many, many years later, I had lost track of my own wedded life. While my own wife had gone through life lonely, isolated, depressed and unloved. My children’s father was never around when they needed him most.

In those years I had earned the dubious, not-too-flattering title: casseur des coeurs.

  • Never for a moment in all those years did I ever feel the slightest sense of guilt.
  • I owed it to myself, I kept telling myself.
  • Had I not kept track of what was happening back home?
  • Did I ever forget to mail a cheque to my wife every month?
  • What about those visits when I would pick up the kids and take them for a brief holiday?

No remorse. No regret.

One fine day I finally went back to the family, trying to put together broken pieces of my family life. Years later, I finally asked forgiveness.

That was 22 years ago.

Some 17 years had passed when son and I were attending a group therapy session on the art of living. He was asked to tell class about the one event that mattered most in his life. He looked at me and told the class of 60 attending:

"I see myself as a six year old in tears, on top of the tiger-striped taxi, pleading papa not to go away from home with “that lady”.

Last month, in the middle of the night, my 47-year-old daughter called up long distance from the far ast and anxiously asked:

"Papa, tell me now you are looking after maman? Is she alright?"

Twenty-two years after I had asked for forgiveness.

That brings me to a key question: Does forgiveness really work?

In Eliot Spitzer’s terse resignation announcement yesterday, with wife Silda by his side, her face such an anguished open book that CNN's Wolf Blitzer commented, "That woman has aged in three days," Mr. Spitzer uttered these words:

"I have begun to atone for my private failings with my wife, Silda, our children…The remorse I feel will always be with me," and "Words cannot describe how grateful I am for the love and compassion they have shown me," amounting to a small essay on forgiveness.

Let me say this here and now:

Underneath all the chatter about Spitzer's spectacular fall from grace and his wife's obvious pain lurks a very human dilemma. What if it were me? Would my wife forgive me?

Forgiveness, researchers say, is a very long and delicate process. We hear talk about Spitzer’s atonement, his remorse. I say it's a very long and winding road indeed.

It takes over 22 years, I can tell you.

[The vault of new stories is running low again. If you are interested in contributing, the guidelines are here.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 02:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


If confession is good for the soul, you should feel better now. Thanks for sharing. I hope that the men (and women) who need to learn from your story will somehow find this post.

I must confess that I would never have forgiven you. To have led such an exciting life while your wife coped with loneliness and the stress of raising children virtually alone is, to me, unforgivable.

I admire your courage for owning up to it, but my praise is for your long suffering wife. She must be a Saint and you are lucky that she is still with you.

As they say, it is easier to get forgiveness than permission, and you have been given both. Your wife permitted your behavior (probably because she had no choice)and then,unbelievably, she forgave you.

But, did she ?????????

Not Eliot? Me thinks thou doth protest too much.

When life is spent and the energy that youth allowed indulgence is gone ... When forgiveness of self is disallowed because regret may not have boiled over as lust did ... The sadness that shame wrings out reveals the forever lost joy of total immersion in vowed love and commitment to another and family.

Forgiveness is a force to be reckoned with.

Sounds a bit more boastful than remorseful. "All the women in my life were only too happy to spend time with me, often sharing with me whatever we spent on luxury holidays and even on some simple trips to not-too-expensive spots." Boo Hoo Hoo I'm assuming this is fiction.

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