NOT always a cheater. If you have been deceived by a lover in the worst way, that is to say your belief and trust in love was violated, then, I’m sure you find some comfort that Karma will be a bitch and your ex lover will fall. We do unto others as we would do unto ourselves and we get what’s coming to us. Perhaps, telling yourself, as your friends and family have told you, a cheater can’t change and is destined for loneliness brings some solace; I know that to be untrue from personal experience on both sides.
Buried somewhere in my blog is the story of my first serious long-term relationship: straight out of high school towards a college five hundred miles away from home, having to leave my family, friends and love behind was a big test of self-reliance and maturity. My “fiance” (he gave me a small diamond ring and I wore it as a promise to be together) began accusing me of infidelity because he had the incorrect spelling of my screen name (back in the days of AIM) and was reading the away messages of another chick to her bf. He was relentless as I was, in accusations and defense, respectively. Three months of bitter fights and homesickness wore me down and the 19 yr/old me had enough and lived up to her code: if I am in the wrong, then I am wrong. But if I am right and you are wrong, then I will rectify the situation so that you are now right: I better get some enjoyment from whatever action I am accused of because I won’t stand for being a scapegoat. That’s where my college ex stepped in and his game and seduction were on my level: our passion was breathtaking. By the time my ex-fiance realized he was wrong (we were sitting at the same PC as I showed him the correct way of spelling my screen name), the damage was done and his lack of apology/admittance of wrong hardened my heart. I’m not saying what I did was right because fulfilling my ex fiance’s prophecy broke my heart knowing that I’d broken his, too. I discovered an aspect of myself I did not like and the discovery made me doubt my goodness, my worth. When my mom learned of what I did, it just added more fuel to our war (she and I have been butting heads since I was five) because she hated cheaters (having been cheated on). She was disgusted, wouldn’t hear me out and we were in a stalemate for a few more years.
I tried to mend things by owning up to my mistake and focusing on my relationship with my ex-fiance. It took two years but eventually, I re-gained my parents’ respect/approval for being adult-ish and trying to make it work with my ex, whom they liked. I indulged his insecurities and allowed him control of my life: believing that a few months of knowing where I was, what I was doing and who I was with would help him trust me again. Can you see where this was leading? If I was dolled up for him, he wouldn’t believe me and made me change my clothes. If I was working until 1 am (Victoria’s Secret during the holidays –those were some fun times), he’d insist that I go to him (he was still living with his parents) after work. The thing was, we weren’t supposed to sleep over and I’d have to sneak out around 5 am to avoid his father AND sneak back into my house avoiding mine! It was not a sustainable situation and whenever I put my foot down, he would throw a fit and we’d break up. If I got a promotion at work or was getting ahead in class, my ex-fiance would make it seem like nothing and would insist that he’d take care of me and tried to convince me to drop out of school/reconsider med school. The idea of me getting ahead and bettering myself did not sit well with him. My guilt over cheating on him/breaking his heart allowed for the grinding down of my self esteem and inability to see what he was doing was wrong.
Eventually, five years of make up and break up would lead to the night when a mountain of resentment and anger burst forth from me as my subconscious made me aware of the fucked up things my ex had done in trying to break me down: he left me at Lake George because a guy (perfect stranger) wouldn’t quit checking me out even though, I never noticed the dude and he physically jerked me out of the car (with one of his oldest friends right there with us), he pulled a gun on another driver because he was checking me out and so on. The “old” me sprung back and cursed him out, told him we were over and turned to leave. My mistake: he clocked me from behind and dragged me back into his bedroom (oh, did I mention we were in his house while everyone was home?), slammed his hand over my mouth and nose with his other hand at my throat while pinning me to the bed and chastised me for cursing while threateningly telling me that I would never do it again. Third time in my life that I knew I had to fight for it because he wasn’t letting me breath and my body was pinned under his 320 lbs. So, I got one hand loose, tried to pull down one of his arms but I was running out of oxygen and the only thing to do was gouge out his eye. It worked and when I finally drew in a breath, I used it to curse him the hell out! His piece of shit brother stepped into the room just as I was making my escape to the door and redundantly said I had to go. I shot back at Bobby saying that was what I was doing as blood was filling my mouth. My ex had loosened a tooth, the bruised imprint of his hands were on my face and throat and the two idiots actually came up with the idea of lying to the police should I press charges. You don’t have to make a lie if you’re being truthful about being in the right as Judge Judy would say. But I didn’t press charges because I still carried the guilt of cheating on him six years prior.
It took me a couple of years to realize what a time waster he was and what he did was more fucked up than cheating. A counselor had to tell me that my ex was the abusive type and no amount of appeasement would have been enough for him. A friend had to tell me that my ex would end up killing me and any child I brought into the world, which wasn’t something our friendship would stand for. My journey isn’t what happened to you or the one your cheating ex took. However, it was the first and last time I would ever betray someone I love (a high school ex cheated on me but that was a long distance relationship forged in a summer camp we attended. Totally impossible to keep at ages 15-16 without a license, car and permission/chauffering our parents gave, tehehe! Karma isn’t always so “nicely” quid pro quo where the cheated becomes the cheater). Good people can stray for a multitude of reasons: some real and others are complete fantasy but ultimately, it’s still wrong; it’s still selfish. Karma will catch up but probably not in the way you’d like or expect. A good person learns a lesson and the SMART one doesn’t have to re-learn it later on. My experience tells me a cheater isn’t always a cheater and I know that isn’t comforting to some but this is what I’m leading to:
On behalf of the one who hurt you by breaking a bond, love and your trust, I apologize. If you never received the satisfactory reason why it’s because it doesn’t exist or because the immaturity of your ex couldn’t process the emotional turmoil. Your ex may have seen it as the easiest way out without the messy discussions and fights. I know of the crushing blow to your body when s/he confessed or when you had to do the “dirty work” by finding out for yourself; this isn’t an excuse but know that the same crushing force hit me the minute I was in my college ex’s arms and he was kissing me because I knew it was wrong. I’m sorry for the nights you spent soaking your pillow in tears, the deficit in your bank account for the wine and liquor (other substances if that’s your style), the self doubt and insecurities, the anger, broken tokens of love and mementos, the weight fluctuation (first from vomiting for God only knows how long and then, comfort food), the time lost and cynicism that developed on how “love conquers all” (because it still can and does). Some people are just assholes and selfish people who will take/use up your resources because they feel entitled to it (those, I promise, will not end up happy people in a loving relationship because there are two in one and that’s one more than they can care for) and others are still “finding themselves.” It’s not your fault: it’s not your fault! You’re worthy of love and you did all you could. Let go of the negative thoughts and emotions: love is going to find you again and you have to believe in that with the same open-heart as you had when you met your ex and when s/he cheated on you. If you can look upon your (soon-to-be) ex as a one-time cheater then, I say you should try again only if you can let go of the bad stuff completely because a relationship should be a well-oiled machine without a hiccup/kink gumming things up. There are self-help books on relationships that you two could work through together or take good advice from your parents/other elders and if religion is important to you, double back towards it for help. You should get a third person to help if you’re married to your cheater because counseling can be helpful and your family can be happy with work. Do NOT give up if those two avenues don’t pan out! There are date nights, weekend get-aways, spas and a hundred more ways to get re-acquainted with your lover. Try everything at least three times because I can tell you from experience that the first counselor may be a real disappointment and you’ll need to find another and another. It will get frustrating, especially at the start, but your love is stronger and your relationship is too valuable to let fall due to some fumbling and pot holes en route to being loyally united again. Remember that all relationships are work and the phenomenal times (e.g. vacations to exotic locales, the birth of a child, etc.) will be balanced by the really crappy ones (e.g. death, pink slip, etc.), though not necessarily in the same numbers. It takes strength and resolve to get through deception and betrayal, perhaps, you’ll even receive the explanation you need if you give your partner the space, patience and acceptance, s/he needs.
To the cheaters: with the air in your lungs, blood in your veins and the alacrity in your heart or mind to undo a mistake, you can right a wrong. You owe it to your partner to be truthful, to give as much of yourself into the relationship as you have taken and another attempt (after another and another – get where I’m going with this?) at reconciliation: especially, if you’re married and/or children are involved. Don’t set yourself or your relationship up to fail because you’re worthy of a second chance while there’s still love between you two. It’s going to be rough looking into the eyes of the relatives and friends of your partner and you will be under scrutiny, you might even be judged. I didn’t know how rough that would be at age 20 but if a 20 yr/old can survive then, anyone older and with more on the line should persevere. One thing I did find shocking is the amount of support you’ll receive from the people you least expect it from; for example, my ex-fiance’s grandparents welcomed me time and again into their home and treated me like family after the fact. I know some of their affection was tied into their only granddaughter who looked upon me as a friend and only female cousin. Let’s call her “J” and as long as J heard I was going to be in CT, she would go wherever I would be. Her mother was my ex’s maternal aunt and another unexpected source of anecdotes about my ex, releasing me from guilt and obligation. She told me he was the way he was (controlling, awkward and angry) not because of me but due to long time strife with his mother and father. I started to love myself and my life enough to break away from his control and abuse.
As long as you are living, you should love yourself and your fellow human because anything less is not worthy of conscience, self-realization. Stop dabbling in the life of others until you have your shit together because it’s unfair and disrespectful to disrupt the life of another. I was raised to respect everything and everyone around me: we don’t know the life events that make up someone’s personal history and passing quick judgement is as wrong as deliberately wounding someone. We need to be more patient, more readily available with our time and even with our money, if we can afford it, to make those lives around us bearable. Above all, we need to be humble and grateful for those lives that cross ours: that have done the same for us without needing to be asked and without asking for anything in return.
“If you wish to succeed in life, make perseverance your bosom friend, experience your wise counselor, caution your elder brother, and hope your guardian genius.”
(a somewhat humorous conversation that spun this entry off and the follow up conversation that came several weeks later is coming. This is post is over 2,000 words long and that’s enough 😉 )