My ex-girlfriend posed an interesting question last night. She said, “If you can’t forgive Fred for cheating on you, how can you forgive yourself for cheating on me?” (I’m paraphrasing, but that’s the jist of it). I sat there in silence and both loved and hated her for asking the hard questions.
This all came up last night in her kitchen. We were sitting there all pleasant, just soaking up each others’ existence, when she asked me about him. I shrugged off the conversation because I don’t exactly like to be reminded of people who broke my heart that I’m trying to forget. But then she started talking about how she wishes I would forgive him because it sounds like he’s really sorry. Say whaaaaaaaat?? This I just don’t get. #1. She still loves me #2. Fred is the person I cheated on her with #3. What ever happened to her having my back? All signs point to her benefitting off of my beef with Fred. So I pressed her about it. Guess what she says? “I mean, he didn’t do anything wrong to me,” she shrugged. WHAT??? Now on this response I call bullshit. That is a bonafide bullshit response. Everyone else has my back with this; my roommate has personally called him an asshole/dick at least five times, my best friend back home has already offered to key his car, but my ex who is supposed to love me and back me up? Nada. So I questioned her further, and that’s when she hit me with the interesting question at the beginning of this post.
Let me break down my answer:
- Context matters. Fred and I were in a 2 year committed relationship and spoke frequently about getting married, moving in together, having a kid, etc. My ex-girlfriend and I had been dating 3/4 months.
- I deserve to be angry. It is my right to feel betrayed. I did my best to love Fred and make him happy, and frankly I didn’t deserve to be treated the way I was sometimes. So I’m not going to curb my emotions so he feels better. He should have thought about losing me whenever he was fucking someone else.
- And, just for the record, whenever I told my ex-girlfriend I cheated on her I expected her to be mad. I gave her permission to punch me in the face. I thought we would never speak again. Because that’s what I deserved. I was mad at myself for cheating on her and hurting her, but it’s true, I had also forgiven myself. Why? Because I believed in true love. When I cheated, I thought I was cheating with my soulmate, the person I was going to end up with. And while that doesn’t make it right, it does make it understandable. I fucked up, and I’m human. I know Fred is human too, and I’ve accepted the fact that we are over. But I’m just not at the point of forgiving him, because he never told me he loved this person he was fucking, and I didn’t even know they still spoke to each other. My ex, on the other hand, knew I was still in love with Fred, that I was still sad about us breaking up, that I still talked to him and hung out with him. I wasn’t honest, but I was pretty transparent. Fred, on the other hand, completely blind-sided me. And that makes a difference.
It’s all sort of beside the point, though. I’m done wasting time thinking about Fred and my feelings for him. There’s nothing more to figure out, anyway. And I’m done pointing fingers at myself. I’ve made mistakes and I’m not perfect, but that doesn’t mean I don’t deserve love or self-respect. I’m not going to do any self-hating behavior that could cause a major depressive episode. And besides, I’ve got other stuff on my plate. There are other people in my life to consider, and I’m still figuring out what part they play in my life. (Namely, Issac, the guy I referenced in “Look At Me, Growing And Shit”). So even though I hope to get around to forgiving Fred someday, in the meantime I’m not concerned.
This is one grudge I’m willing to hold.
Forgiving yourself is one of the hardest things a person can do. But when you do, God, do you feel free….
Holding in hurt does nothing to resolve it. If you want someone to know how they made you felt, tell them. Maybe they won’t even care, but the fact that they know means everything. Maybe it will teach them something. Maybe they will fight to never make that same mistake again. Maybe they will ignore it, but no matter their response you will have learned something: The pain we feel in our hearts makes us love, makes us appreciate life, and give all we can to those around us. The people who are happiest in life are not those without pain, but those who have turned their pain into reasons why they will further embrace the opportunities to dream and fulfill who they want to become.
I just needed you to know.