What Does Your Judgment Look Like?

Warning: Following is a rant.  It rambles and probably doesn’t make a lot of linear sense.  I don’t do this often but once in a blue moon a thought gets into my head that I can’t get out until I write it down.  This is simply my opinion on this subject and not meant as an attack on anyone else’s opinion or moral code.  And let me caveat, when I say judgment I really do mean judgment not advice giving in a caring manner meant to help.  There’s a vast difference. 

……………………………………….

I dislike judgment.

A whole hell of a lot.

Especially because I was (still am) judged so heavily by my x and his family.  Because of my own experience, I have swung my pendulum to the far side of non-judgment as frequently as I can.

This post is generated at the responses I received over the Bennett posts. I knew that they would get some negative feedback because he is married and living at home. I’m ok with that. I’m ok with people having their opinions.  Creates interesting dialogue on a blog for sure.

What I’m not ok with is the fact I lived through what Bennett is living through and was lucky enough NOT to have surrounded myself with non judgmental people in my life who understood my situation both from a close inside perspective and from a distant outside perspective. I count myself very lucky that I created this network of wonderful people because without them, I may never have left the marriage for fear of being stigmatized as a “divorcee.”

These were friends who watched a deteriorating marriage and prayed I would see the light to get out because I was stumbling around in the dark.

It’s so easy to judge and say “married means married.”  That means you do not ever step outside your marriage. You made a choice to be faithful. But no one, and I mean no one, knows what goes on between any two people in their private marriages. Or why things happen like they do.

It’s not always the man who isn’t faithful. If I am to believe Bennett, his wife was unfaithful more than once and doesn’t seem to care about repairing their marriage. I feel so deeply for this story because it was mine too.  At some point we hit a wall in a bad marriage and know it’s time to exit.

I cheated after my x cheated. It still doesn’t make it right.  I don’t believe in an eye for an eye. I made my decisions for reasons that today seem weak but they are the only ones I have.  Those weak reasons got me out of my marriage, at least.

Had I been a stronger person I would have left my marriage years and years ago.

This is not a post in defense of Bennett. Not at all. In my opinion he has to live with himself for his choices. I do not view my intimacy with him as contributing to the breakdown of his marriage. His marriage is already broken.

And I don’t think it makes me immoral either.

I do not think that having an affair makes you devoid of integrity or a moral code. I think it makes you confused and lonely and seeking answers.  Maybe you make the wrong choices and go down your path sideways and backwards and flopping all over the place for a while until you find the right way. But I don’t think it means you are a horrible person.

For my part,  I am with Bennett for the moment because I am lonely and he fills a need.  I am horrible. Shoot me.   As every single betrayed spouse would say to me: I am delusional because I have to take responsibility for his adultery.    Hey, I don’t think so.  I know what I am doing, as should he.   I am single and free to make this choice.  If he is not, then he can stop at any time.

People make choices and some of those choices are bad. Some of them are just poor choices.  Some are weak.  I think, when you are intentionally hurting another human, that’s a problem. So if Bennett is not being honest with me about the breakdown of his marriage and is, in turn, going to hurt his wife…then I see that as a weakness of (his) character.

But it is not a definition of a human.

It is not the be all end all of human integrity.

I make mistakes every day. I made them in my marriage, my career and I’m significantly struggling with my motherhood right now. But mistakes I made in the past are the building blocks for a better me in the future. I actually resent the thought that someone would think I am devoid of a moral code because I:

  • Cheated on my husband
  • Knew my husband cheated and didn’t leave him
  • Had an affair with a married man who wasn’t planning to leave his marriage.

Yes. I did those things. Not things I sit here and say “hey I’m proud of myself for doing these things!” But hope the choices and experiences I made helped me to grow and made me a better person today.

And…are these the only things that make up my moral code?  Are these the only things I can be identified as forever more?

  • What about sitting by my best friends bedside, when we were 21 years old, while she was dying and all her other friends left her alone because they had more fun things to do?  I sat with her every single day I could that last year.
  • Or how about nursing my mother through the end of her life while my brother watched helplessly and my father ignored the fact she was actually dying?
  • Or maybe the time I organized a food drive for a friend with cancer to ensure she had enough food prepared for her family to get her through the worst part of her chemo without having to worry about cooking?

I suppose, to those people where adultery is the only thing they see in the Bennett posts that none of this part of me matters.  I am forever identified as an other woman.

We are all humans who make choices. I do not view Bennett as a bad human because of his situation. Because if you sit in such judgement, by God, you had better be perfect and whiter than white.

So while Bennett actually does gets defended in his post it’s really all about me (like everything else on this blog) I did what he’s doing and I learned from it. I had a long affair with a married man and I will NOT  allow that to happen again because I got hurt.    I need to let Bennett go because I shouldn’t be hurting him, not because he still lives in his home and is still married.

So if my choices define me for the rest of my life, I’m doomed.  I’ve already been admitted to hell permanently and I might as well be making poor choices forever and maybe even raise horrible children in the process, right?  Because that’s where I feel the judgement of those not involved goes to… there is only one side to every story and those that are perfect can say “don’t engage with a married man.”

I wish for all people more understanding, live and flexibility. Life is fluid. We are humans and born into sin. We can course correct and hope that we all find peace and understanding of the human condition at the end. But I know my course is crooked and most possibly even wicked.

And I’m ok with that.

Rant over.

A postscript: unlike every post on my blog, I may not engage in comments on this subject just because it is so painful to so many.  We all have our opinions, I am simply stating that no one has all the answers and we should all be less judgmental of others.

Author: Madeline Harper

My journey through divorce and an emotional and sexual reawakening. Love, laughter, friendships, family and heartbreak included. And there is sex, lots of it, so close your eyes and turn the page if that's not for you! While I started this blog as an endeavor to journal my thoughts and feelings in an attempt to better understand myself, it has become an amazing platform from which I have met some of the most interesting and wonderful people in my life. My path is often crooked, but I hope you will share in the journey with me.

28 thoughts on “What Does Your Judgment Look Like?”

    1. Thanks Sharon – I found this to be true. People who know me best and watched my marriage fall apart never once judged me for stepping out of it and then ultimately ending it. I don’t even look back at my x’s last affair and think “he shouldn’t have” because we were so broken at that point “how could he not have.”

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Nice rant and let he who is without sin cast the first stone. I get it; our morality says we should never be involved in such things but those who invented our morality weren’t looking at reality and the fact that one person cannot possible take care of EVERY SINGLE NEED of someone else, a fact that’s been proven over time when people wind up suffering through dissatisfying marriages, sacrificing too much of their humanity just to make someone else happy, can’t stay in a relationship for any meaningful length of time, and the list goes on.

    Infidelity happens. While it is possible for people to remain true to the moral code, the fact is it’s not doable BY EVERYONE. I’d never cast any stones because I’m not without sin; morality is a guideline but at the end of any day, it’s up to everyone to decide what is best for themselves and certain aspects of morality be damned unless, of course, those who’d condemn you for being immoral would like to live your life for you.

    Monogamy has its uses; this, too, has been proven over time… it just doesn’t work the way everyone thinks it should because, bluntly and frankly, it’s a set of imperfect rules created by imperfect people and a high, lofty standard that reality, the harshest teacher of them all, begs to differ. If monogamy worked the way it’s supposed to, the first time we fell in love would be the only time we fell in love and no one would ever have a reason to leave that person short of the intervention of death.

    Life, as we know it, would be pretty boring, unchanging, devoid of personal challenges and goals: We would be stagnant. Yes, in a perfect world, we marry and live happily ever after and every single need we could ever have would always be taken care of by our spouse… but none of us live in a perfect world, do we?

    Madeline, handle your business and live your life in the best way you can.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Daddy – love your comment and it does make me think….why are we, as a society, so bound to these codes that have been proven weak and inefficient (in may cases). Why does such a stigma still exists?

      I feel pretty good about managing myself lately, certainly better than in the past, and I think this little rant has been sitting dormant for some time. I can’t judge Bennett’s decisions, he has to love with himself. However, I know its not good for me to be involved with him and thats the more important part of the lessons I’ve learned.

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      1. Being bound by it does a lot of things, like providing a sense of purpose, security, companionship, that baby-making thing we like doing even when not trying to make babies, and even gives us a sense of being decent and right when we play by the rules as written.

        It’s what all God-fearing people are supposed to do and by doing them exactly and precisely can get your eternal soul a place in heaven; don’t follow the rules and spend the afterlife in purgatory or hell.

        What the people who created this whole thing couldn’t envision or imagine a time where women wouldn’t want to literally be the property of a man and would want to have the same rights as men, like, it was okay for a man to have many wives but if a woman wanted many husbands – or slept with men without being married – then she was a harlot, slut, whore, yada, yada.

        They couldn’t envision a time where a man could, in fact love his wife… but he’d want more than she was either willing or able to give, or that some women (and men) could be so abusive that finding comfort and even safety in someone else’s arms and bed would be the best thing for them to do given that divorce would be costlier, punishable by excommunication, and other such things that would make dissing the rules worth it.

        Or, really, sometimes this fairy tale can stand up against the realities of life. Now, it’s not as if people today (or at any other time in our history) don’t know that a relationship can go sideways for a lot of reasons even though we are told and taught that they should never go sideways. Not only do we try to prevent and discourage it, by doing so, we can actually make it happen…

        And then be so damned arrogant as to suggest that if they did give you a reason to stray, it’s still your fault for being weak and unable to stand in there and take the ass-whipping they’re giving you like an adult.

        We know the rules don’t work; the reasons for the rules are no longer valid and damned inflexible as they didn’t account for life in the year 2016. We embody the definition of insanity in this: We keep doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result and, in this case, believing that monogamy should always work no matter what.

        Whew, huh?

        Like

  2. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone, is a very good Bible saying, that I always liked, (even though I am not really a believer anymore). I agree with a lot in this post. People will always have their opinions but I agree that one should be very careful in judging people and in how one conveys one’s opinions to another person. And perhaps even more important when we don’t really know everything about a person, such as bloggers reading each other’s blogs. Exactly as you say, there is a big difference between well meaning advice which is brought forth with care and warmth, as opposed to very judgmental views. I read your posts enjoying them very much. And I have never once felt that you could be an inconsiderate or “immoral” person. I think the very fact that you are writing all your thoughts out about your love life, trying to see it from different angles, growing from past mistakes etc, makes you a very interesting and nuanced person. I am all for seeing the “greys” in life, seeing things in black and white usually never gets us the whole picture. Keep on being yourself, self reflect and grow. I am always rooting for you! 😊 Take care and be well.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love this post. It’s raw and it’s real. I actually view adultry different when it comes to men and women. But it’s just my opinion. For men, seeking someone elsewhere outside the marriage is more of a selfish need. It has nothing to do with emotional feelings. It’s just sex. Sex and lust. But for women it’s very much emotional. And yes it also may serve a self desire but I believe it takes alot for a woman to reach the point where she ends up having an affair. Like you said, be it loneliness or even a need to be loved and desired. You cannot judge a person on those acts only. And it’s true what you said, you don’t know what goes on between a married couple.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. In theory, I agree with you. In Bennett, there is role reversal. I would like a little bit of fun sex with him (because he’s so smitten it’s hard not to enjoy him and his attention) but he wants ALLLLLL the emotions, and I can’t go there and do that with him. He would be happy with no sex, and I can’t see the point in a relationship like that ever again. In a way, as I’m writing this to you, that may be even more harmful (for him) to fall for me rather than just enjoying the short affair for the sex.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. *** Because if you sit in such judgement, by God, you had better be perfect and whiter than white.**

    Excellent.

    I absolutely love this post, because you have an abundance of your heart, soul, and passion fragmented inside the words.

    What is right? What is wrong? You decide. NOBODY else.

    In the end, we all make our own decisions. And GOD is the only judge.

    Great rant. You must have needed that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I suppose that rant was lingering, more from days gone by than current, but the current situation brought it up. The funny thing is it sounds like I am protecting Bennett and I’m really not, I’m protecting me. I suppose I do harbor some guilt or some remorse somewhere inside these bones if I write like this, but as quick as it comes, it goes. Perhaps that’s good, for me.

      And thank you for such a generous compliment about my writing.

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  5. I read the post about Bennett, as I do all your posts, but I have not had opportunity to comment or to read the comments there. So mostly I am sorry you felt moved, or judged, to writing this rant. It’s well stated, and perhaps it is something that needed to be written anyway.

    I’ve been reading and following you since your very first posts, and I have noted tremendous personal growth in that period as you have gained experience and confidence in navigating and building a new life for yourself. Being human with is an imperfect thing, and no two of us are exactly alike. Some feel justified in claiming a moral high ground from the experiences and histories that have shaped them, other take a more moderate tone in outlining their concerns about your behaviors and decisions. I have long admired your openness in sharing what you do about your life and times – the good and the not so good. As the months have passed your selection process has evolved and includes more practical, rational methodology alongside the impulsive, emotion, and attraction factors. After all, there has not been a repeat of the dreadful Brix experience in recent months.

    Continue to live your life, M. You are a good and caring person, and you evaluate your dating/relationship choices based on information received from your potential partner as well as your own gut-check feelings. Bennett may simply be another confused and emotionally wounded person trying to find some comfort and joy in his life. Maybe he’s weak, maybe he’s selfish, and maybe he’s lying to you and his wife is a candidate for long-suffering spouse of the year. None of us knows what his home life is really like, but he is a grown man, capable of deciding how and with whom to spend his time, just like you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Janelle. I think the post has been brewing since the Bobby days and just needed to come out. I view Bennett as a flawed human, as I view myself. If I choose not to continue with Bennett (which I have already made the choice, posts are not entirely linear these days) it would be because he is not right for me, not because I don’t believe him or in his situation. I walked his path, I know how hard it is…it only now seems easier because I am out on the other side of it. Now I sit and wonder “why do people wait to be happy?” and each has their own series of reasoning.

      I suppose it is the moral high ground that irks me most – how could one make a determination that all humans in a bad marriage are by default “wrong” if they cheat on their spouse? Because a Bible says so? Because they follow like sheep in a herd? People are so much more fragile and fluid than the moralists would have it, and I suppose they may be whiter than white…I don’t know because I will never be one of them.

      Thank God that there will be no repeat of Brix, or of Bobby for that matter. If anything, I learned my lessons even if they were the hard way.

      As for Bennett, he is going to learn his and I fear I am sort of his Brix in a way….so I am trying not to do to him what Brix did to me.

      Thank you for always being such a positive voice of reason, you know how much I admire your comments and thoughtfulness.

      Like

  6. We are each responsible for our decisions. We make them using whatever rational, emotional, cultural, social or moral means that are ingrained within our being. We may adhere to a strict moral and ethical code, existing in a black and white status and because of that, apply judgement (i.e. condemnation) toward those who do not align with us. While living this way, we may still have a breakdown of one of those values be riddled with guilt and shame and then find that the world is more gray than any other shade in the monochrome spectrum.

    I used to be this way, judging myself harshly for every misstep that I made. Integrity means the world to me – doing what I say that I will do, honesty, being forthright, etc. – and when I allowed myself to erode and fracture this personal value, I began to dislike who I was becoming. When it came to marriage (and adultery), I was one of those who judged others’ actions (understanding that I only had a sliver of the facts and then, only from an external perspective) yet I wouldn’t express that to them. I judged internally yet continued to maintain relationships (if the person was a friend or family member) but I struggled with what that person did.

    I am much more understanding, today. I still judge myself heavily and yet I understand some of the circumstances that influenced my decisions. In doing this, I do not judge others’ for what they do or did.

    As was stated earlier, β€œLet him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” Even in my drive for self-perfection (before I learned to be less judgmental), I was not perfect nor without flaws and faults. I still made mistakes and stupid decisions. Who was (am) I to judge others?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Henry and thanks for commenting. You are right, a lot of this is about judging myself and taking the words of others as a form of criticism. I am glad the comments so far have seen that integrity is a very personal thing to each of us, and it’s important (probably most important) that we feel it about ourselves. I agree that being judged in the past has caused me to stop doing so in my own world, and it has opened up a world of possibility in understanding human nature.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I should add that there is a difference between judgement and discernment and application of either (or both) for making the best decisions for ourselves. Some would assert that I lacked discernment of the facts that I had in front of me and made a decision that was contrary to my values and character (as far as the person they were familiar with) and may be disappointed. As a good friend might grapple with speaking out (to me) in order to help stop me from making a bad decision (to save me from myself), they wouldn’t necessarily be judging me or being judgmental but rather attempting to help me see facts that, for some reason, I appear to be overlooking. It is a tightrope walk for those who see us differently that we see ourselves.

        I read the comments on those posts and what *I* saw was people using their own life experiences and projecting them to you…not necessarily judging you but, instead not wanting to see you get hurt (or, perhaps being altruistic in not wanting Bennett or his wife to get hurt).

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Hi henry – the comments that remain up are exactly what you said….there are some I chose not to release.

        Again, the rant is actually not directed at any of my lovely friends here, I believe everyone is here in support and I am lucky not to have trolls any longer.

        This was an old wound, that was scratched again, but mostly the wound is healed and I picked at it (no one else picked at it, I did it myself!)

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I understand.

        I, haven’t yet been subject to criticism/judgement and I doubt that anyone could be more harsh than I am towards myself, should someone decide to uncork on me.

        I am sorry that your wounds have been touched, but I would suggest that it is part of the healing process. In time, those wounds will consist entirely of scar tissue and will be resistant to future abrasions and cuts.

        Like

  7. In the immortal words of Taylor Swift: “I go on too many dates.
    But I can’t make them stay
    At least that’s what people say, mmm-mmm
    That’s what people say, mmm-mmm

    But I keep cruising
    Can’t stop, won’t stop moving
    It’s like I got this music
    In my mind
    Saying, “It’s gonna be alright.”

    ‘Cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play
    And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate
    Baby, I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake
    I shake it off, I shake it off”

    That’s about as profound as I will go on this one. Xxoo!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I don’t think I realized that Bennet was married…and I don’t care. I just know that I enjoy what you write. I enjoy your openness and honesty. I like that you don’t try to justify your actions with some lame excuse. I like that you don’t ask for absolution. I like that you seem to enjoy life…and you deserve to do just that.

    Like

  9. Oh my, I’ve been reading the posts but feel like I have missed something!

    I’m sorry you are being, and feeling, judged. I am a firm believer that the person responsible for an affair is the one who is married. If Bennett is lying and cheating, that is on him..not on you. And you have every reason to believe what he says about his marriage. His behavior over the moved wallet etc was pretty weird but who is to say the cause. If he gave you an explanation for it which you believe to be correct then this is what you must go with. Like some others, I have been following you from the early days πŸ™‚ and your growth has been amazing. Anyone who had followed along knows that you are caring and considerate and introspective and you also know when you are doing something against your better judgment and you own your mistakes. These are all the reasons I love to read your posts. Keep moving forward and don’t let judgment from others get to you. πŸ™‚

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  10. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone. Obviously I wasn’t the only one inspired to quote scripture. But really – who the hell has to the right to judge anyone? (says she who is presently fighting the ghost of ex past, and battling HIS voice inside her head) You do what is right for you – and B may or may not be forthcoming about ALL of his circumstances (and is that really to you to decipher?) – but what can you really do under the present situation? You live your life. With, or without, B as a supporting actor. You have my blessing – not that you need it or I have the right to say something so cavalier. But you made a statement that resonates with me – that no one really knows what truly goes on inside that front door, or between any couple. I’ve been saying that for years. Sometimes it all looks rosy, until it’s not.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s true, everyone went to the scripture but there is probably no more accurate historical reference than that! πŸ™‚

      It’s hard to rid ourselves of those past demons, obviously I am still struggling with some of that myself.

      I like your point about it not being my job to decipher his motivation or reality. I knew from early days with Bennett that it really made no difference to me what his situation was, just that he wasn’t single and therefore not available to me.

      I like your blessing, so thank you kindly for that! I will take it!

      I am such a firm believer that no one knows the truth except the two involved…and even then, we all see our scenes differently from one another. I am sure if you ask my x the reasons for divorce they would be entirely different than my view. Then again, he is delusional! lol

      Liked by 1 person

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