Although I had promised myself that I would not watch what was sure to be a tear fest on Oprah, I tuned in and watched her interview with Elizabeth Edwards. It was just as I had thought, pretty sad. Here is this dynamic woman who had weathered many storms, sitting here doing what many woman do — deflecting attention away from her husband’s wrongdoing while adamantly blaming “the other woman.” I always find it interesting when women have harsher words for “the other woman” than they do for the husband who is in the committed relationship and has promised his fidelity to God and the free world.
Perhaps that is what she needs to do to get through a very painful period of her life? Perhaps the Elizabeth Edwards of the world are no different than the working-class folks we see slugging it out on daytime talk shows? She just happens to have a greater net worth than these women who cry, scream, beg and physically attack each other, while the cheating guy sits there and watches in amusement.
John Edwards certainly didn’t seem amused — in fact he seemed to be quite remorseful and sounded as if he was unsure of the state of their union. What perhaps was most telling about the interview to me was when Oprah, who of course was nestled squarely between them, stated that she could tell that there was a lot of love in that house. At that moment, I was thinking just the opposite — there appeared to be a lot of pain in that house. While John and Elizabeth Edwards admitted that they loved each other, neither of them would say that they were in love, which is the question that Oprah asked both of them.
Perhaps, that’s why Elizabeth Edwards is in denial, because the reality is too tough. The marriage that she says “was her world” is over; her life as she knew it is over; all of this is happening as her life is ending.
If she denies that Edwards fathered a child with his mistress, then it did not happen. If she denies that he provoked the affair, then somehow that makes it less painful. If she denies that the woman he chose is a crackpot, but able to land her powerful husband nonetheless, then she isn’t the sick and undesirable spouse that she may or may not be. Maybe if she denies the extent of the affair, then she won’t be “reduced” to being just “the mother of his children.” Instead in her mind, she is still his lover, the most important person in his life and the only woman that he “simply adores.”
Whatever the case may be, this interview highlighted what many women — people — go through in order to preserve a relationship to which they have remained true — anguish, anger, guilt and denial.