Archive | April, 2014

Letter from a Reader: Leaving a Cheater

30 Apr

Why You Should Leave a Cheater remains my most popular post.  I continue to get at least one or two emails a week, often more, from people who are dealing with similar situations.  The stories are always sad, heartfelt, and usually inspiring.   There are always a lot of emotions involved.  This is an issue that far too many people struggle with, sometimes after years of having the same negative behavior repeated by their partner.

They are all different, yet very much the same.  Men and women are both affected, and reach out to me in fairly even proportions.  None of them expected to be where they are.  Some of them try to hang on and fight for their relationship, others are struggling to make up their minds or seeking support and reinforcement for a decision they’ve already made to cut the cheater out of their lives.

Despite my strong personal feelings on the subject and the decisive wording of my article, I try to be an ear more than a giver of advice.  Every situation has its own complications, and I am not a trained therapist.  What I do think is that everyone should listen to their inner voice, be very cautious with someone who has already lied and cheated, and not settle for a bad partner out of fear and complacency.

Today I was contacted by a woman who very eloquently shared her story and what brought her to my blog.  I requested permission to share her story because it resonated with me.  Her story sounds like mine.  Maybe it sounds like yours.  There are many common threads in relationships where cheating is involved.  There is also power in hearing other people’s experiences.   She was kind enough to allow me to share in the hopes that someone could benefit from reading it.  Here is her personal story of leaving a cheater:

“I am a young woman from Ireland who has just discovered your blog. I just wanted to send you an email to say that your post ‘Why You Should Leave a Cheater’ is probably, no, most definitely, the best piece of advice I ever could have read.

Recently I’ve gone through a very rough patch with my partner of 1.5 years. I would consider myself a strong, confident, ambitious woman but because of him, I felt like nothing more than a few pieces of broken glass. He completely tore me apart as a person, and still, I stayed with him because ‘he needed my help’ to sort out his mess of a head. My family and friends hated him, but I thought that love conquers all, excuse the cliche.

After all my attempts to keep both of our heads above the water, I discovered he cheated on me, not physically but emotionally. Although there was no physical contact, I have no doubt that I will never feel pain comparable to that of seeing filthy pictures and messages exchanged between my partner and a woman from his past. I broke things off, and just as you described in your post, his tears started streaming, nose running, condemning himself for what he had put me through and the exclamations of how he couldn’t live with himself. And also, just like you, I felt so sorry for him. Look at this poor guy, he made a mistake, one stupid mistake and surely people deserve a second, third, fourth or fifth chance? How glad I am that I never offered that chance.

My partner was an emotionally abusive partner and it took me too long to acknowledge, accept and realise this. When I broke it off with him, I felt like I had been let out of a cage for the first time in months. I felt so free. I’m no expert, but I don’t think many people feel like that when they leave a relationship. So I was moving on, discovering new and amazing people, learning that there ARE people out there that I deserve, and yes, I do deserve better than the love he gave me. As I was moving onwards and upwards, we bumped into each other on a night out. We talked and he broke down in tears, exclaiming how losing me had opened up his eyes and changed him, making him see that he didn’t want to be THAT person. He begged me to consider giving him the chance to prove himself, and to prove that I could trust him.

After a few days consideration, it was last night that I told him I simply could not allow him the chance to regain my trust, as I had not yet accepted or moved past the hurt he caused me. Oh, and the fact that I didn’t, in the slightest, deserve any of it. Looking into his red,puffy eyes as he promised me he had been snapped into reality, and that he had changed for the better, I really did think ‘what if that is true’? He said it with such conviction that it made me think, ‘if he has changed, we could have the most perfect relationship out there’. I considered that maybe, just for the fact that he seemed so genuine about changing, we could actually be great together.

But I took a step back from my emotionally clouded judgement, and remembered the moment I found those pictures and filthy messages. I remembered the time he squared up to me and backed me into a corner. I remembered the time he told me I looked like a slut in my new top that I loved. I remembered the time he threatened to drive away in my car if I didn’t get back in it. I remembered the time he didn’t defend me when his friend called me fat. I remembered every little time that my heart twinged with pain. I looked into his eyes and told him I couldn’t do it, I couldn’t give him that next chance, because I wanted to grow and rebuild every part of me that he knocked down.

This morning, I had slight doubts and googled, ‘Have I made the right decision to leave my boyfriend’? That’s when your blog post popped up. And thank God for that. It’s so, so refreshing to know that someone ‘gets it’. Although I wish you and I had never gone through that pain, in a way, I now feel ready to offer helpful advice to others in a similar situation. I know that if my daughter one day goes through something similar, I’ll know exactly what to say and why.

Break ups, no matter what the reason, can be excruciating, especially when you feel like you’re not leaving just one person, but their whole family too. You’re cutting off what was your livelihood, love and passion for years. But when I doubt myself, and I read posts like the one you wrote, it makes me think I’m not the only one who has had to make these decisions. Thank you for taking the time to write that, because it really has cemented in my mind that this is what I want to do, this is the right decision. So thank you.

I read a quote recently that said ‘we accept the love we think we deserve’, and it’s very true. Right now, I’m certain that I deserve more, so why settle for shade when I can have sunlight?”

I hope anyone who reads her words will think about the type of love that you deserve and not accept less.

146

A Walk Down Memory Lane

3 Apr

Today I came across the receipt for the ring and journal I bought on my visit to the museum with my Mom.  When I looked at the date, I was surprised that it was before my separation from Mr. Mess. I remember that day as a defining moment of sorts.  I did something that I enjoyed, just for myself.  I spent hours talking with my Mom and immersing myself in history.  I laughed freely.  I recall that the weather was beautiful.  We sat in the sun and ate lunch.  I was happy.  Truly, simply happy.

Maybe that’s why I thought I was already separated.  In the warm, fuzzy memory I have of that day, everything was right with the world.  I actually had to come to my blog and look up the post to convince myself the date was correct.  Re-reading my words made me realize that I may as well have been separated by then.  I was already emotionally divorcing myself from the lies and drama.  Suddenly, I had an urge to write that I haven’t for a while.  I started an “update” on the post itself, but decided instead that a new post was in order.

Now that I’m here, writing for you all again after months of silence, I realize that I don’t have anything particularly insightful to say.  I still have the ring.  I don’t wear it that much because it is big and girlish and rather gaudy.  I love it, though.  When I look at it, I smile.  I let myself be gaudy and girlish.  I run my fingers over the cool stones that form petals on a white flower with pearls in the center.  I think of the sun, of laughter, of art and history and time with my Mom.  He doesn’t even enter my mind.  The memory of the pain and hurt and betrayal and emotional manipulation isn’t lingering there in the corner at all.

Maybe that is the important thing I have to say: the pain goes away.  Moments of true happiness were rare for years.  I carried the weight of that unhealthy relationship around, dragging it behind me when it got too heavy.  The burden became so commonplace that I was sure I’d have it with me forever.  That day I didn’t, though, even if only for a few hours.  Now I’ve left it so far behind that it doesn’t cross my mind unless some small reminder jumps out and jogs a memory.  When that happens, instead of being painful it makes me smile.  It reminds me of the considerable distance I’ve put between that version of myself and the one I am today.

These days I have happy moments all the time.  I have warm, fuzzy days full of laughter.  I am watching great movies, classics that I never saw and newer films by excellent directors I never heard of before.  I am learning about craft beer and “real” watches and designer shoes.  I actually cook, and sometimes what I cook is really quite good.  I’m going to have a herb garden soon (I’m going to a class with my Mom on Monday).  I am happy.  Truly, simply happy, more often than not.  I smile and sing and love the life I’m living.  Today I have on the perfect outfit for that big, gaudy, girly ring.  I wish I had put it on this morning.  I suppose I’ll have to wear the sentiment it evokes in me instead.

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