This is me. Full Disclosure.
Updated: Nov 18, 2021
Why am I writing this?
I don’t want to hide my shitty behaviour. I value so much the support of my school peers and my friends stepping forward in solidarity, and I don’t want that to be under false pretenses. I have repeatedly behaved in really not very nice ways, and I want you to know that as you decide whether to continue supporting me and being my friend or not.
I want to hold my friends in honesty, and know that I am not lying to them on purpose or by omission. By the same token please know that you can tell me anything you wish and that there never is or ever will be any judgement here.
I’d like to move forward with my life story. I have been stuck forever in the tree branches sticking out into the river of my life, getting caught over and over again in the same patterns and mistakes. I need to make different decisions going forward and to do that I need to understand why I’ve made the decisions in the past.
I know from my friends both new and old that adultery is a problem that has touched most of us in one way or another. If it were as simple as “just say no” or “it’s always wrong” then it wouldn’t happen to the extent it does.
Adultery never happens in a happy relationship. I am not in any way talking about an open relationship here – adultery for the purpose of this post is a sexual or emotional relationship that your primary partner does not know about. And by happy, you can read – “not completely fulfilling’. I have been involved with adulterous behaviours most of my life and I'd like to break that cycle. This was my first go at that particular rodeo but it was not my last.
Writing in public is part of my personal journey to healing. You may or may not agree with this but – my first tiny baby step towards that healing is to listen to my inner voice and then for me to speak and to be heard. And to not be driven to obey those that say it is the wrong path to take. I have been sensibly advised that reaching out to those involved in private might be the better way to go, but recent enough vigorous rebuffs have made that option unappealing. I have used up all my brave for now in getting this far.
So. After my last post, I took the bold step of sending my blog to my WhatsApp group that held those I went to school with.
This was doubly scary because I was fully aware that a reasonable proportion of that group would know what I’m going to talk about today. The risk of loud judgement was high. Fortunately, I only got support and for that I am eternally grateful. I have been too scared to speak up over the past few years because of this...
The next messy stage of my life
I got married young – 21 and 3 days. We got married because of love, and because we were having sex and to our religious families this was important. It was bad enough telling my grandparents that we were moving in together. I can’t imagine how that would have gone down had we not at the least been engaged. The marriage didn’t work, fairly unsurprisingly. I don’t suppose I was good marriage material – I had received some counselling by this stage, but definitely not enough.
A couple of my friends were bridesmaids at my wedding – but in a group of 13 bridesmaids they kind of blended in. One even changed out of her dress and into something else half way through the evening, which was a little odd but it takes all sorts I guess!
These friends I had had a very tricky time with anyway. They were a group of 7 of us at college, and whilst I was very close to a couple of them, when it had come to light about the Back Page, it had been made clear to me that primary loyalty was to the writer (A). And that if I wanted to keep my friends, I needed to let the subject drop.
On top of being bullied throughout my childhood, this came as a very bad blow to my self esteem. And it destroyed any notion that I’d managed to build up of what true friendship was like. I had been so proud to finally have a really close friendship group and I watched that crumble before my eyes. It doesn’t make me a nice person, but from then on I developed a ‘so what’ attitude – actually both to friendships and to relationships. I also found out around this time that my boyfriend had had sex with a couple of my other friends, and again I took this lying down. So to speak. I mean, I wasn’t lying down at the time. But you get what I mean.
I was being told and shown that I wasn’t important. A message I absorbed far too readily.
And? All that time, whilst I had been crying to my friends about how badly it affected me by being repeatedly and constantly harangued on the Back Page? So badly that to look back on AC fills me with horror? That friendship had been abused.
I had been (loudly) upset on many occasions by what was written about me, and that I was figured so prominently. A prominence that wouldn't have been possible had my friend not been writing about me. Every two weeks, the same drama would happen over and over again, and I couldn't stop it. No matter how much I begged. The writers were anonymous and the editors didn't feel it was their place to intervene.
Especially as every time I was drunk, there was another boy, ready to step into the breach. Everyone knew how easy I was after all.
This was the start of my love/hate affair with drinking and men and sex.
I write this also because I genuinely understand that we are all shaped by our own pasts, and I think that growth comes through understanding those pasts and what effect they have had on us. The trauma that must have been suffered to be so callous towards me was probably distinct in its own right. And I would like part of my healing journey to be part of theirs too.
After a short time of marriage (6 months or so) I went to visit one of the girl's in the group of friends. Let’s call her M. I’d think up a better name but none spring to mind. She was engaged to a chap, K. He was 20 years older than us and somewhat of a badass. Unbeknownst to me at the time, he had carried around in his wallet a photo of me, on my wedding day. I had no idea at this point that he even really knew I existed. He was always grumpy around me so I just ignored him.
One night that I was there, M got drunk and passed out. I later found out that it had been a deliberate attempt on his part. I tell you this not to cause pain to M, but to emphasise that the predatory behaviour was very much on K’s part.
K and I went for a walk on the beach, and he reeled me in. I confessed that I had felt trapped, like a bird in a cage. He listened, he empathised, and he played the game right. I was unbearably naiive and very flattered. And lonely and confused and stupid.
So started an affair. When I left my husband for him, K was going to leave M too. In fact he told me they had broken up a long time ago but just still lived together for convenience. For not the last time I believed these now obvious lies. Although I think they did break up around the time I left my husband. Anyway, the original friend who had written the Back Page, A, who had (I felt) betrayed me so badly, intervened for some reason and told K that he was never to contact me again. I don’t know why he listened but that was the last time I heard from him for 6 years. This was the days pre-Facebook etc and I was utterly and completely broken by his disappearance. Obviously he wasn’t that into me or he would have stayed to be with me. But I couldn’t see that at the time.
And to be honest, I still need to get over that. I behaved atrociously yet so did he – however as so often happens in society, the woman is vilified and the man gets off scott free. He was back in the good books in no time, yet most of my friends from that friendship group never contacted me again. I was banned from the school reunions. And the guilt and shame I felt has never left me.
I don’t ask for forgiveness or even understanding. By writing this and putting it out there I simply give you the choice about whether you wish to be my friend or not. And I can let go of my guilt and shame, and fear that people will find out.
If I put it out there, I am finally in control of my own story.
I’m not going to hide anything anymore. It doesn’t suit me and I don’t like it. I’ve found that out about myself at least. You’re at total liberty to make the choice that best suits you.