Two days before moved to London for the semester, I found out the guy I liked this summer had cheated on his girlfriend…with me. Not only that, but I found out from said girlfriend.
I found out I was the “other woman” in someone’s relationship. Then I flew halfway across the world to London. I spent a week touring Europe with my dad, and the following week moving and settling into my new home. The week after that, classes started up and I had to prep.
In other words, had not processed anything. In fact, aforementioned boy called me the night before I left to “apologize”. And I accepted it – or I thought I did. I even went as far as THANKING him for the “good” parts of the summer, telling him we would be cool as soon as we got over it, and basically acting like the whole cheating situation hadn’t really happened.
Funny thing, though – it DID happen. And even if I pretended like it hadn’t hurt me too badly, it WAS a big deal and it was NOT okay like I said. Ask me how I know!
Last week, after my dad flew back to the US and I found myself on my own again, I immediately saw some scary habits creeping back. The scariest was the emotional eating, and all of the negative feelings that come along with it. That is to say, the guilt, the shame, the sadness…the horrible self-image, the hopelessness, the desire to purge…generally hating what I was doing, and hating myself, all at the same time.
I felt overwhelmed, and it all came crashing down on Saturday night. I finally, FINALLY broke down and just let myself process everything. I needed the chance to feel sad and betrayed and whatever else, instead of pushing it aside and ignoring the underlying emotions. But the worst part of even THIS was that, despite it all, what I mostly felt was disappointment – in him, in myself, in the situation, in general.
My biggest issue was that I felt like I made great progress in my personal growth the last few months. Coming out of my last relationship, I felt I picked myself up quickly, channeled my energy into positive things like exercising and eating better, and worked so hard on treating myself right.
But this guy had NOT treated me right, and I let him. He played me for two months – strung me along, sent mixed signals, took advantage of my innocence and trusting nature, and used me to fill whatever void was in his life. Yet all I could think was that it was somehow my fault, that if I had only liked myself more then I wouldn’t have put up with his poor treatment, that I could have avoided this situation altogether.
HE was the manipulator, the cheater, the one who lied about everything from the very start – but I was putting the blame on MYSELF, and rapidly self-destructing. There are so many things wrong with that kind of logic, and it is such a dangerous line of thought. All it did was make me feel even worse than I already did, while simultaneously taking the blame away from where it should have been from the start – on HIM.
A few days ago, his girlfriend got in touch with me again. I told her my side of the story and we filled in some of the missing pieces of the timeline together. We’ve made our peace, which I genuinely appreciate. However, despite learning that he has STILL been lying all this time, even though she’s giving him a second chance that he does NOT deserve, she’s decided that she wants to stay with him.
It’s her life and her choice, I guess. But seeing another sweet, kind girl give in to someone like that pushed me over the edge. It is a month later, almost to the day, and I am FINALLY angry about it. Not annoyed, not sad, not in shock – truly and genuinely ANGRY! I haven’t felt like this in ages.
You see, I strive to be a good person. I want to be a positive piece in the lives of those around me. I try to not speak poorly of others (even if they hurt me), forgive quickly, and take the “high road”. But there’s this quote I saw, and it resonates deeply:
“Don’t light yourself on fire trying to brighten someone else’s existence.”
My goals of kindness, positivity, and forgiveness are noble aims, and they generally do help me keep focused and continually work on being a better person.
But my constant effort to let go, move on, and then welcome the damaging people and relationships back into my life were also attempts at fulfilling these goals. I thought I was showing that I was nice, healthy, and mature – and let me just say, that behavior is NONE of those things. In reality, I was hurting myself even MORE, just to make other people feel better.
Well guess what? I don’t owe those things to anyone, LEAST OF ALL the people who chip away at those better pieces of me. I am trying my best, but I am HUMAN. I am ALLOWED to feel hurt, and angry, and betrayed, and any other emotion on the spectrum that I experience. I am allowed to feel this way, to work through it on my own time and in my own way, and without obligation to anyone else.
Seriously, this guy was awful. He CHEATED on his girlfriend of a YEAR, put me in a position I would NEVER participate in knowingly, and painted me out to be some desperate little girl. He objectified me, sexualized me, DEHUMANIZED me. He made me question my self-worth, damaged my confidence, and set me back in my incredible goals and progress from the summer.
So NO. That is not fine, and not something I have to forgive. I will move on – clearly, I will not let someone break me, much less someone like THAT – but I think this time around, I will utilize this backbone of mine and not let this person back into my life.
Coming out of this terrible experience, I can genuinely say I learned a lot. More than anything, it opened my eyes to some of my subtler unhealthy habits – in all types of relationships, romantic or otherwise. It’s okay to support people; it’s NOT okay to NEVER put myself first. And it also showed me that although I made AMAZING physical progress these past few months, I still need to focus on my emotional and mental growth. I am a much stronger person than I was before, but that doesn’t mean I can’t continue to get stronger.
The reason I’m sharing this, and in a way that’s perhaps less upbeat and cheerful than my usual posts, is because I know I’m not the only person who feels this way. We are constantly taught that anger and sadness are negative emotions we should avoid at all costs. They’re not worth it, we should just get over it, we are in charge of our own happiness…and so on and so forth. And a lot of that might be true – I mean, I much prefer having fun and being happy! BUT IT IS OKAY TO HAVE THESE BAD TIMES, TOO.
Sometimes when I’m going through something, I sit here and think things like, “Well, logically, I know I shouldn’t feel XYZ” or “GOD Ariel, it’s all in your head”. I’m not wrong, but I’m also actively devaluing my emotions and my experience. Even if it IS illogical or in our heads, not addressing it and bringing ourselves down is not the way to go. You don’t have to beat yourself up even MORE for feeling the way you do, and you also don’t have to explain or justify it.
A caveat – there’s a fine line between letting yourself process something, and letting yourself dwell even more on something. The important thing is to let yourself feel whatever you need to, and once you’ve done that, then it’s time to start doing what you need to do to move forward.
All of the above writing? That’s me venting, listening to angry Fall Out Boy, and working through the last bit of these emotions. Then I’m finishing my homework, going to bed, and getting up early for my morning workout. That guy is, in the words of Jean-Ralphio – the wooooorst.
This post was for ME, and also for YOU. Because WE are what matters MOST!
I really hope this helps someone, and I say this (literally) in every blog, but PLEASE feel free to talk to me. I’m over-sharing on the internet to hundreds of people (ha…ha…NICE!); you can over-share to me in my email or Facebook or Tumblr or in person! Seriously – the support you all give me is amazing, and I am ALWAYS happy to return the favor in any way I can.
Anyhow, that’s all for now. Positive London adventures and life updates are to come soon, I promise! Until then, keep being you, kick butt, and stay awesome!! #cliche Much love to you all!