When we were together long ago, in the distant past, he believed that I had betrayed him.
Not just ‘betrayed’, but ‘BETRAYED’ in all caps with a bright neon red, sharp and harsh, and so ugly it can barely be looked at head-on.
That betrayal impacted him deeply, coloured all of his relationships since me with a murky grey cloak of fear and self protection. Years of it.
He got over it, of course, put it behind him, carried on. Lived and loved and worked at avoiding the potential for that sort of hurt ever again. That meant putting away some pieces of himself, and keeping away from women like me.
I knew none of this. Not an inkling.
After our relationship ended, our separate lives went on, we lost touch.
Recently he contacted me. We talked.
Between that post and this one, he brought up the betrayal: the pain, the bitterness, the anger, even hatred that my betrayal had caused him as a young man. There was no blame in it. He laid it out as a mature man looking back at his history and laying some of it at my feet, to shed light on it. Although it seemed like an ancient artefact, the remnants of all of those awful feelings were clear: Ragged, chewed up, spat out, hardly recognisable, but still being afforded breath there in the back of his mind. Or somewhere in his heart. Wherever these harsh experiences of life continue to live long after they are past.
The thing is: the betrayal never happened.
It was a misunderstanding, an unfortunate happenstance, easily cleared up in a single email. I wrote that email immediately in reply, banging it out in a kind of head-spun disbelief that he had believed such a thing to be true.
Both of us reeling that this lie had festered as a truth in his mind for years. His shock to discover that this thing that had caused him such terrible pain had never actually existed. My shock that he had carried such a hurtful untruth around with him for so many years and I never knew.
The truth came out easily, but unravelling the consequences has been a little more complex. I have been almost morbidly curious to understand the impact of learning the truth for him: it is a kind of rewriting of history because of the way it coloured his view of me, of the relationship, of his place in it. I can’t imagine it, really, and I think he has handled it with much more grace and maturity than I would have.
He has shared snippets of where it has taken him, glimpses which I find fascinating and for which I am grateful. He sees a kind of rueful humour in it, skipped past the what-ifs, and moved on to a sense of relief at being able to let those tattered negativities go into the ether. It is closure of the kind you hear about.
As for me, I have apologised profusely for his hurt, but what I am *really* apologising for is the fact that I created a relationship where my young submissive didn’t feel safe enough to come to me at the time and ask “What’s this?” so that the misunderstanding could have been avoided in the first place.
For that, I’m deeply sorry.
I’m going to pre-emptively ask commenters to please not play the ‘blame game’ here. I expect my regular readers wouldn’t dream of going there, but I’ve seen too much of it lately and I want to give fair warning that I won’t hear a word of it.