From my closest friends, I’ve gained so much insight into the world. Sometimes I even feel selfish that I get to learn through my own experiences and of those around me.
From this constant social experiment, I have learned a few important truths. One particular thing I can say, without a doubt: most of us have been cheated on.
I understand that it can be painful and exhausting dealing with that sort of thing. I just think that dragging it around like luggage is way more exhausting.
I say this abrasively because most (not all but most) of the time, cheating is not a quick end. It always seems like that first red flag is too easily forgotten. The first doubt is dismissed.
Then slowly but surely, you ignore blatant clues: change in behavior, lack of communication, and even sometimes total silence. All so you can grasp at a relationship that is obviously ending.
I remember the first time a guy cheated on me. When I initially found out, I was silent. Until three seconds later when I was completely outraged.
My friend was with me and being the stubborn and supportive person she was, she made me go to his house and confront him. I’ve always been pretty straightforward, but I was terrified to face him after what happened. The whole car ride I didn’t know what was more intense: my anger or my embarrassment.
So we get to his house and she doesn’t even pull in, but that’s mainly due to the other woman‘s car being in the driveway. No, I’m really not joking. At this point, I am absolutely speechless.
Long story short: I stood there for seven minutes and he never came to the door. Just imagine standing at the door of someone you cared about, knowing they are inside with the person they’ve cheated with. It was the strangest, most confusing seven minutes I have ever experienced. But, I needed it.
When I realized he wouldn’t answer, I figured it was either because he was in an uncompromising position or he was a coward. I slammed his glass door hard enough to properly symbolize my emotions and I walked away.
I’ve always been one for the dramatics.
Even though I completely cut him out of my life, I forgave him in those first seven minutes. Partly because he was only human but mainly because I was oddly thankful for what happened. I realized that through his actions I was shown so many things about myself and the world.
I probably sound like a huge optimist but I think a more accurate explanation is that I try to make sense of situations and learn from them when I can. The knowledge I gathered from dealing with a cheater (and through the emotional aftermath), was a more-than-fair trade for my ex.
I’ve never really talked about it with people, but it is one situation in which I’m truly proud of myself. I didn’t allow the actions of one man define me or break me. I elegantly bowed out.
Getting “cheated on” gives the impression that we are at the cheating’s mercy, powerless to it. I beg to disagree. We may have no control over the cheating aspect, but when we find out, we have every ounce of control over the situation. The cheater has already played their hand, but now it’s your turn.
How you carry out your next move says it all. I realized I would rather be a hero to myself. I would be the type of person that I had wished he would be: graceful.
Though I struggled with what happened, I released myself. I know I was not the woman for him and I never try to be something I’m not. I allowed myself to be hurt, but I kept the bigger picture in mind. Being cheated on showed me that I hadn’t invested nearly enough into myself yet.
The thing is, we know that we are only human. Humans are beautifully flawed and impeccably imperfect. We make mistakes. No one wants to admit that they could get cheated on and you don’t go around expecting it. But, it does happen and we will always get through it.
Emotional and mental growth can be just as painful as physical growth.
The most important things are to find your new groove and maintain a healthy separation from the other person. More on that next week.