Friday, September 7, 2012

the last book I ever read (Katharine Graham's Personal History, excerpt seven)

from Personal History by Katharine Graham:

It’s hard to describe my total devastation after my discovery of the affair. This kind of thing has happened to innumerable people of both sexes, but I had never dreamed it could happen to me. I knew that marriage could endure momentary disloyalties, but this was different. It’s very hard to understand, even in retrospect, how the possibility of his having an affair had never occurred to me, I was so blinded by the closeness of our relationship and by what we had been through together in the last years. My feeling that something fundamental had been destroyed was a result of my own total commitment and my belief that these feelings went both ways. Also, it was part of my bafflement at what I saw as Phil’s increasingly strange behavior. I had no understanding of the context of the terrible depression he had come through or the polar-opposite mood that was dominating him at the time: not even then had anyone bothered to utter the term “manic-depressive.” I truly believed that he and I were bound together by time, by choice, by shared experiences, by our family, and by the life of the company that was so important to both of us.

Phil was clearly upset, too. He told me he wanted to preserve our marriage and our family; he said that he loved Robin but would tell her the affair was over, and that he would stay with his family.

It was a memorable Christmas holiday. I was wrenched apart by finding out the whole thing, and Phil was torn at having decided to end it. He knew a breakup would be terribly difficult for Robin, so, to help her recover, he sent her on a vacation in the sunshine and even sent along a friend of his to keep her company. The friend turned out to be another girl from his past, about whom I, of course, had never known.

For some reason, in those immediate days after my discovery of Robin’s existence, Phil seemed to have a compulsion to tell me much more than I wanted to know about this side of his life, of which I had been happily oblivious—about his past relations with other women, of whom there apparently had been several. I was, of course, shattered, as well as completely stunned to learn of his interest in other, including some of my own friends to whom he had made approaches, and Robin’s companion, with whom he said he had had a long, strange relationship.

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