This is a personal post about something that happened to me a long time ago that I think most people can relate to. I’ve thought of it many times over the years, but I’ve never written about it. This is more of a journal entry than anything else, but I hope it connects with someone out there who might be going through a similar journey.
You can taste the dishonesty, it’s all over your breath, as you pass it off so cavalier
What inspired me to revisit this lonely chapter of my life, believe it or not, was hearing the album Lemonade. Beyonce quite eloquently tells a story of loss that I immediately related to emotionally, spiritually, and physically. Though I’d buried the ax, forgiven and forgotten, and long since moved on with my life, the experience of being with an unfaithful partner changed me in ways that are still hard to describe. Long after the dust settled, I found that I still lacked the boldness to reflect upon the experience. It felt safer up on a shelf gathering dust. I am thankful this album came along and inspired me to not only revisit but to reclaim this part of my life.
Maybe we’ve all been cheated on, or maybe only a few of us unlucky ones have. But I think that the feeling of needing someone and having them turn away from us is a very universal one. My story isn’t that unique, but it’s an interesting chapter of my life. Nothing has ever turned me inside out quite the same way.
My lonely ear pressed against the walls of your world…pray to catch you whispering…pray you catch me listening
When I heard those words, they hit me in a place that had long since healed but still remembered the violent taste of betrayal. The anger, the self-doubt, the numbing, the shattered ego, the grief, the rage, the desperation, the heartbreak.
I wish I’d had this album when I was going through the inward loss that accompanies a relationship breaking down through dishonesty and cheating. It’s an experience many of us share, but in the moment I felt so alone. More than that, I felt crazy. The soul sickness of knowing your parter is falling in love with someone else and seeing the seeds of loss being planted all around you is almost unbearable. It was an awful time.
What’s worse, looking jealous or crazy? Or like being walked all over lately…I’d rather be crazy
What I remember most is the constant suspicion. The hardest part about being so suspicious was the fear that I was going crazy. The idea that something was wrong with me and caused me to see things that weren’t there. You’re just jealous. Relax, nothing is happening. You’re reading too much into it. She’s just a friend. He loves you. He’d never do that to you. Constantly trying to comfort the gaping hole in my heart that needed reassurance which couldn’t be given or received. We both knew – everyone knew – but I wasn’t ready or capable of saying out loud what I knew in my heart. Those are the things that stick out the most when I think back on the experience.
Something don’t feel right because it ain’t right
Especially comin’ up after midnight
I smell your secrets, and I’m not too perfect
To ever feel this worthless
And then there was the feeling of comparing every square inch of myself – body, mind, spirit, and heart – to another woman. I spent my time desperately trying to figure out what was wrong with me and what made her so irresistible. What is it about her? She’s so confident and liberated. She does whatever she wants. How did I get so boring?
Those questions seared my mind day and night. Jealousy is a bitter, scary feeling. I was often too unsure of myself to confide in anyone about my worries, and when I tried, I was told it was all in my head. I constantly questioned myself, which left me on the sidelines of my own life.
At times I wondered why I couldn’t just be happy he had other people in his life and look for new friends of my own? When did I get so clingy and dependent? But the denial that goes along with being in the grips of codependency keeps you trapped. I placed all my eggs in one basket, and it was slipping away from me. I didn’t have a backup. This person had been my emotional survival, and I didn’t know how to function without him. In my sickness, I felt like I was getting ripped apart and someone else was stealing pieces of me.
What a wicked way to treat the girl that loves you
In the brief moments when I fully let myself feel the loss, the anger welled up alongside my anxiety. There haven’t been many times in my life when I felt so burned. I felt someone else creeping into my relationship – sneaking around – and if I noticed or brought it up, I only created more problems. He’ll see how jealous you are. You’ll look crazy. So I kept it to myself as much as I could. But in those rare times I let myself be angry, I got swept away with rage. The anger that someone could break up my happiness and take away my identity just so she could keep it all for herself. I wanted to lash out.
People always say it’s easier to blame the other person than your partner, and that was true for me. Especially since I had put such a naive and unhealthy dependence on this relationship. I knew he was lying to me, but it was so hard to point out because every time I brought up how unhappy I was, I got closer and closer to losing him. So I let him escape the wrath in my mind and tried desperately to find a way to salvage our relationship.
Tell me, what did I do wrong?
Feel like that question has been posed
I’m movin’ on
Only after things were over between us was I able to accept and process my emotions. The hardest part of the whole ordeal was clinging onto something that was shrinking more and more each time I tried to tighten my grip. Once the worst happened, I was able to grieve the loss that I had been preparing for all along. It was excruciating and involved a lot of back and forth – swearing him off forever, being mean, engaging in self destruction, flaunting my life to make him jealous, allowing him back in only to close the door again – but after enough time, I realized that happy people don’t treat their partners like he treated me, and a little bit of empathy for him grew in the place that had been filled with jealousy and rage. That’s when I knew this painful chapter was finally over.
I heard from someone much smarter than me that you can’t be mad at a person once you truly understand them, and when I was able to play back this part of my life and watch it like a movie, I felt bad for both of us. What helped me heal the most was realizing that I wasn’t an innocent bystander to a car crash. I was part of something that was going down and causing everyone involved to suffer. That realization helped me let go of the feeling of injustice that drove me crazy for so long.
I hope sharing about this is helpful because the message I mean to send is that we all suffer and hurt in the loneliest and scariest ways, but there is always light in the darkness. In some of the moments I thought my life was ruined, the biggest blessings were waiting just around the corner. It’s so important to keep hope alive no matter how awful things get.
And remember, we’re never in this alone. I kept my pain bottled up for a long time, but on the occasions I would bare my soul, people would open up to me about the wildest pain they had endured, and those connections made me feel whole again. Sharing creates a safe space to be seen without fear of being judged. It has helped me so much over the years to talk about my deepest fears and innermost pain, and I hope that sharing this chapter of my life helps even one person know that they’re not alone.