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The truth? Maybe you can't handle the truth.

So you know that secret friends aren't "okay," and that, even if there isn't one, the way you're being treated isn't "okay."

You know all this and are asking me anyway, which has me asking, why?

Were you hoping to hear that your marriage is fine? Doubtful; your letter reads more "Tell me I'm right" than "Tell me I'm wrong."

If it's validation you're after, then I suppose it's possible that's all you want. People who know they're being wronged but who don't want to leave the comfort of home, even an unhappy one, occupy a sort of netherworld. They know they're not going to get what they want - rekindled love, a mate who stops cheating (or starts doing housework), whatever; so, they'll settle for being right.

If this is you, then please know the loneliness of this realm you choose to inhabit, and find the courage to kick your way out. Stop snooping, and say: "I've seen how much contact you have with X, so please don't pretend you're not close. I ask that you dignify me with the truth so I can see whether I need to find a good therapist or a good attorney." If you just get screamed at again, then get both.

It's also possible you need validation because you lack the confidence to trust what your own eyes, ears and heart are telling you. If this is you, then skip the conversation and start with the good therapist, solo. Emotional paralysis can have many sources, but it has one result: stranding you with your fears.

Write to Tell Me About It, Style, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071, or tellme@washpost.com.


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