It’s still the worst thing I’ve ever done
This is the story of how I lost myself and broke a heart. He didn’t deserve it. He loved me in armfuls. He loved me so hard and so fully that he took that love and continued to dump it onto me. Load by load. Until finally, I couldn’t move at all.
We met in college. We met after I had felt my heart ripped out of my chest by the boy I thought would be in my life forever. We met at my own apartment where our friends giggled off to the side, proud of their efforts to hook us up. He didn’t talk to me. He sat on the couch, curled into his ball-cap and his body that was too tall and took up too much space in our little living room.
It took alcohol to open him up. We found ourselves on the same side of a beer pong table. Then we found ourselves talking late into the night. Then we found ourselves in my bed, just sleeping, but still wrapped together in the hope for the future we both pictured.
He didn’t deserve it. He said “yes” to dating me despite the long-distance we were headed for. He bought a plane ticket and he downloaded Skype and we made it work. He wrote love letters. He found a pedestal for me to stand on and he pointed at me to all of his friends and family while saying, “There she is.”
There I was. I was the girl on the pedestal.
I was the girl buried under all the love. The shadow-side of all this smothering love was jealousy. Those same guy friends we shared would text me and he would pout and turn away from me.
“It’s a group text,” I would tell him. The truth. “They aren’t even talking to me.”
It didn’t matter. He threatened to dismantle the pedestal. He threatened to take back the love. The jealousy rose and rose and I was buried and buried until one night it all blew up.
We were at a gala. We wore our best suits and long dresses and we had the makeup and the photo shoots and everything was fine, just fine. I was shoving down all the stifling. I was handling it. Until I reached for the liquor.
I reached for the liquor and the feelings spilled over. I reached for the liquor and I found myself outside in the lobby on the event center with my tongue down the throat of an old fling. I reached for the liquor and I became the bulldozer that flattened the fuck out of that pedestal.
He didn’t deserve it. He didn’t deserve to walk out into that lobby and see his girlfriend — his future, his hopes and dreams, his everything — pressed up against the wall by the exact guy he’d been worried about all along. He was right. He knew he was right. He had known it all along.
There are a cause and effect here. Who’s to blame? Me, ultimately. I am the one who cheated. I am the one who gets to wear the Scarlet A. But it was not me. The person with her mouth on that guy’s mouth was not a person that I knew. It was not something I ever fathomed doing.
I could have made a better choice. I could have ended the relationship months earlier. I could have searched in my soul and realized that this was wrong. That I deserved to be trusted. That I was a person who knew how to love someone well. I did not have to prove that I was not. I could have stepped off the pedestal, rather than abolish it.
But equally true is the idea that his lack of trust pushed me past the point of myself.
Did he cause me to cheat? Absolutely not. But would I even have had the idea to cheat were it not for the endless hours of conversation on the subject? I do not believe so.
We both failed. I failed the most. I fed into the trust issues that had already been lurking underneath the surface. I granted him the baggage that he was already leaning toward. I broke him.
He’s married now. He found the girl that would fit the image of the life he had picked out for himself. I got to move on and pursue my dreams. I got to be a writer. I got to travel the world. I got freedom, and he got his new pedestal.
Honoring what we know in our core will always lead us to the right decision. If I had acknowledged that the relationship was not working earlier on, we would both be better for it. I try to do this more now. I try to listen to that still, small voice that leads me to the right path. It’s the best I can do.