How I Came to Love Myself (After I Cheated)
Cheating is bad. We have been told this is truth the same way we were told and believe that true love exists. Cheating exists and it occurs more times than you would think. I was utterly astonished at the number of women who cheated with reasons very similar to mine (Why Women Cheat, featured in the Huffington Post). I did cheat. I cheated, while under the influence of strong booze, but I did it with a conscious mind and a damaged-beyond-repair heart.
The truth is, like so many other women, I didn’t cheat to cheat. I was stuck in a high school relationship at 23 with a boy who was really just a friend. Back when we were 16, I honestly never even so much as looked at him in that way. I was actually greatly infatuated with my other friend, Bryan, at the time. I even (not fully regretting) got my best friend, Tory, involved; she had me coming up to his house on Valentine’s Day, and calling him asking him to Homecoming, twice. He was nice about it, letting me down easy and all. Then Josh inadvertently says, “Hey, I’ll drive you and pick you up, if you want.”
So I’m here thinking, “Gee, why don’t we just go together?”
We did. The whole thing was awkward and sweet, and I just figured, you know, things and feelings would just fall into place.
SO VERY WRONG.
We trapped ourselves in a 7 year stale relationship. We would kiss, but only pecking. Never anything beyond that. We really were just two kids who greatly enjoyed each other’s company, but lacked in the romance department, greatly.
So, at 23, I had just moved out of my parents’ house, had a job at the local grocery store where I found myself crushing hard on the night manager. That’s when I first realized, this was it. I needed to give Josh an ultimatum or bust.
Of course, later I realized that romance isn’t something you can fake (not unless you’re a highly paid actor/actress).
Tory was in town from the Navy, and we celebrated her 24th birthday together. Her FWB friend, Richard, was there. He told me we had met back in high school. I never recalled.
He was an obvious flirt. I knew he and Tory weren’t a thing, but she was maybe leaning that way. Then I found out his mom lived in the same complex I had just moved into. So after Tory went back home to the Navy, Richard and I started hanging out a lot. One night, I had my friend Erica with me and we were going to a softball game. Richard caught us in time, and tagged along. Got back to my apartment, and started drinking the booze. Then Richard suggested shots.
It wasn’t until then, until that night, that I learned how fast one can get drunk on shots.
But, I was still in control of my actions, of my words.
I suggested strip poker. (By this time, I did honestly forget about Erica)
Earlier, Erica and I were discussing our mutual lack of lust with our respective boyfriends while Richard listened.
That was probably my one and only opportunity for a three-some that didn’t come to pass.
I took all my built up hatred, hatred for not backing out sooner, hatred for trying so hard for nothing, hatred for not being honest with Josh.
I took all that hatred and turned it into passion.
I let it all go; everything, I stripped myself bare of not just my clothes, but of my feelings, both faked, and raw. I drenched myself in him, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
When it was over, we went for round two in the shower.
I learned that night that shower sex can hurt for the worse.
He didn’t stay over.
He did call. Text. Knock.
I was scared.
Scared of seeing Josh and Richard together, just hours after what we had done.
Scared that I could be okay in a FWB friendship.
Scared that I had lost.
I stayed there.
I hid there.
It was dark, depressive, and manipulative.
I started dating, at first. Not sleeping around, just dating.
And it was fine. I met one guy who played 20 questions with me.
One guy had dinner and a movie lined up.
Another had me drive north 3 hours for a free concert.
Then, I let myself get involved with Nick.
Nick, as I later learned, was the mirage type of guy.
On the outside he was an imperfect person, I thought I saw perfectly.
He worked as a stocker, lived with his sister, and talked to his mother on the phone almost every day. Co-workers saw the glances, the stares, the smiles. One was sure he was a “solid, good man.” But, like most people, he had his demons. So did I.
I thought, together, we could fight our demons, step into the light and be happy.
Happy doesn’t involve taking my prescription pills to kill yourself because I went to visit my folks for a day.
Happy doesn’t involve getting mad when I hid your booze from you, when I should have just dumped it out, but I didn’t because I needed it too.
Happy is not aiming to punch me, missing, at hitting the wall behind me instead.
Happy is most certainly not calling my loving mother a cunt.
All these things and more, he did.
I stayed. I stayed with him too long.
I let him in my apartment, I let him talk to me the way he did.
I let him yell, scream, get angry, all that.
And still, I stayed.
I thought I could fix what was broken.
Too bad he was broken beyond my repair.
He did teach me something I hold very valuable to me now.
Do not expect anything from those you choose to love.
Disappointment will also creep behind the corners when you do.
I eventually, continued to date around, trying to get to know more guys.
I failed, miserably.
Then an old friend called me.
It had been a few months since he was seeing someone and asked if I was.
I happily said no.
We’ve been together since.
I believe a big part of it was that was had the hots for each other when we first met. We both were aware of the sparks. We both knew the other knew.
Only problem? Josh.
I also believe it was for the best.
We are both more mature and more comfortable as adults than during our first years of college.
We love each other dearly, and I managed to love myself the way he saw me.
I have tattoos, and I believe that they are the scars we choose to share with the world.
While some scars I got from Nick, both real and verbal, still sting when ever I think about it, I know that even though he raped me in my sleep (which was the same morning I called my parents and kicked him out for good), I never felt that my being violated was something to be ashamed of. That’s why I refuse to make it a headline. It’s only ever going to be a footnote in my life. A very distinctive footnote, but a footnote nonetheless.
Amanda B Hansen