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Throughout my whole young life I always thought cheating was bad. When I was younger it was cheating on a test or calling someone your best friend and then the next day you found a new best friend. To young adolescence it doesn’t matter whether the cheating was in a  literal or psychological sense… It was just wrong. I always thought that a cheater never deserved love or adoration. I thought that karma should kick them so hard in the ass that they’d never walk straight again. I had all these stigmas of what terrible people cheaters were until I turned into one.

I don’t like to think about my past and what I’ve done, but sometimes it creeps up on me like the slow rise of fog. It all seems so long ago, but the pangs of hurt still linger on my heart and in my conscious.

I had just arrived at work yesterday, a Monday, and had a weird feeling that it was just going to be ‘one of those days’. I wasn’t very motivated to work and simply just couldn’t stand the thought of another ungrateful guest barking orders in my ear as if I was a servant and not a server.

The first guy to walk in the bar during my shift sat a high top table. He looked nervous and on edge… Quite frankly, he looked like he’d be hit by  a bus. I bring myself over to his table and ask if he’d like a drink or maybe some water. He looks at me bleakly and says he’ll take a double shot of Patron. So this is how it’s going to go…

I bring him over his double shot and set it on the table. I walk back to the bar rail and watch him down the shot, not even so much as a twinge in his face. After he shoots his tequila like a champ I start to see tears well up in his eyes and the hard time he is having holding back his true feelings. I don’t know why but I got this pit in my stomach, like we could relate to each other. I go back to his table after a few minutes to see if he needs anything more and he just orders a Lunetta split and informs me he is waiting for someone.

After about ten minutes his guest arrives. She’s beautiful. She has these long legs accentuated by a pencil skirt, long curly brunette hair and a set of gorgeous big brown eyes that light up once she sees his face. She looked relaxed, almost relieved. She looks like she’s had a long day and by the way she’s dressed I assumed she just got off work. I go to greet her and ask her what she is drinking and she orders a split as well.

Once I drop her drink off and ask if they want any food, she looks at me and almost yells, “Can’t we just have some drinks?!”

I was taken aback, thinking that they were here for drinks and happy hour appetizers. My eyes got big and I apologized for bothering them and left them to their conversation. As the afternoon kept on, the bar got busier and I kept my eye on them. After about thirty minutes they ordered more drinks and a round of shots. Throughout this entire encounter the guy kept bursting into tears and had to compose himself multiple times. The girl didn’t seem very upset and kept consoling the guy. She was holding his hand, cupping his face and seemed to genuinely care for him. In my head, I am thinking maybe someone close to him died or his significant other just broke up with him… I assumed they were friends.

I felt so bad of this guy that I wanted to buy them a round of drinks. I knew I wasn’t having the best of days and obviously this guy wasn’t either, so maybe showing some sympathy could help… Even if it was just in liquid form.

The guy goes to the restroom after breaking down for the millionth time and I approach the table where the girl is still sitting. I ask her if they’re doing alright and her response was more than I intended. She let out a sigh, but more like a sigh of relief. She looked at me and said they had just gotten finished signing their divorce papers at the court house. The guy she was with had cheated on her with a twenty year old. They had tried to work their marriage out and she realized he had more baggage than she bargained for and that him cheating was the last straw. She didn’t cry or even look upset. She looked at peace with herself and her decision. I told her how sorry I was to hear what was going on and she told me that it wasn’t all bad and there were great parts of their marriage. She told me that they truly did love each other, but love wasn’t enough to keep them together.

Once the guy came back from the bathroom, I looked at his face again and saw his sad eyes and red nose and I felt sorry for him. He was so distraught about this failed marriage and I think he knows that he was ultimate ruiner of their love. He did the most unholy thing a husband could do to his wife. He disregarded her love and broke a trust that not many couples can regain once infedility happens. He sits down and they trade off seats while she then goes to the restroom. I drop by the table to set their check down and give him a small smile. He looks at me and we hold a gaze for a moment and I gently squeezed his arm. I think in that moment we had a silent understanding. He gives me his card and I go to run it… Only it declines. The girl ends up picking up the sixty dollar tab and they leave. I watch them give each other a long hug as they stood in the parking lot. It looked like he was crying again and she kept her composure.

I told some of my coworkers what was going on and they were all disgusted by this guy. They were disgusted that he would cheat on his loving, beautiful wife. They were disgusted that she picked up his tab. They were disgusted with her love and compassion towards her ex-husband. I couldn’t even begin to understand where my coworkers were coming from. Then they started the cheater bashing. They kept saying that all cheaters should go to hell and that they don’t deserve love. They were saying that nobody deserves that pain of being cheated on. Little did they know, I had cheated before. I had been a cheater.

I cheated on someone who didn’t deserve it. He was good to me… At times, he was too good to me. He was kind and showed me what loyalty in a relationship meant. I always pictured my first true love to be special and beautiful… But, when I think about my first love it’s just pain and agony.

I don’t think many cheaters ever expect their partners to find out… Which is why they do it. I told my partner that I cheated on him. I remember the exact moment I told him. I was pacing my bedroom and tears were streaming down my face. I think he thought I was going to break up with him or something… I probably should have at that point. And I just blurted it out. I asked him not to hate me, but if he wanted to leave me, I’d understand. He was beyond shocked… He wasn’t angry, either. But, the pain I saw on his face that night and every other day for the next six months (we fought hard to stay together) is something that will always be burned in my memory. I literally have nightmares that replay that night over and over. And I wake up every time in a panic thinking I haven’t escaped that part of my life.

He didn’t leave me at first. He wanted to make it work. He thought that it was a phase I was going through… It wasn’t. I realized shortly after my confession that being in that relationship wasn’t what I wanted to do, but I felt trapped. I felt like I owed him some sort of consolation? And for months we played house, but never truly acted out our parts right. The relationship quickly became toxic and he turned into someone I couldn’t recognized… I only had myself to blame. After our lease was up, we officially decided to part ways.

We would make mistakes… I would call him crying or he’d show up at my apartment and we’d play out our old characters. But, the truth is, we both changed so much and I think we were just so in love with who we met, almost two year prior to our relationship ending, that we never wanted to admit we didn’t love the strangers we’d become. It was comfortable and easy to fall back into bad habits… Something we did regularly. It wasn’t until I met my current boyfriend that I really realized how devastating this whole situation was.

After that couple left the bar, I felt so sick. The hurt that that guy was feeling was the exact pain I felt once my ex and I decided to officially break things off. I still talked to my ex and tried to keep things civil and friendly, but that was hard to do with so many emotions. I felt like I was on the Teacups like at Disneyland. I felt like my life just kept spinning and spinning out of control until everything was one big blur. I couldn’t make out the faces of the people in front of me, and any little emotion I felt was like a bomb was exploding in chest and I couldn’t breathe. Anytime I would see him my whole world would fall apart.  I literally shattered my cellphone into pieces after an explosive argument ensued between the two of us over the phone. I slammed it into tile flooring and that was the end of my iPhone’s era. I couldn’t eat or sleep… Life was happening all around me and I was stuck on this God awful ride that I couldn’t get off of.

I will always carry that pain around just like I’m sure my ex will always carry around the pain of my infidelity. Having your heart broken is said to be equivalent to dying… All the symptoms of heartbreak are very similar to those who are expected to die. I think I’d rather die than ever feel heartbreak like that again.

And I am sure some of you reading this are thinking, well Taylor, you deserve that. You deserve to feel like the piece of shit that you are. What you did is the WORST thing you could do to a human being. He really loved you and you broke that. You shattered his security. You disturbed your relationship. Karma hit you so hard you couldn’t see straight for months… And you deserved that.

Maybe I did. I think I definitely repaid all of my karma back and then some. My life was in shambles… So that poor guy, whom I’ll probably never see again, is feeling what I was feeling at one point in my life. And I’m sure he’ll be fine in a couple months, just like we all do, but it is important to feel sad. It signifies you going through and understanding the grieving process. He’s grieving the loss of his love… Even if it is his fault.

After I came home last night, I was sitting in my bed, looking at the clothes my boyfriend always leaves on the floor… And how angry it always makes me. But, I’d rather have his dirty clothes on my floor than them be on someone else’s floor. And then I started thinking about everything I’d done to my ex, and how lousy it made me feel. How I could never, ever do that to someone ever again because I destroyed more than just his life… I destroyed OUR life. And the mere thought of destroying something as sacred as my current relationship would be a death sentence equivalence to me.

Cheaters don’t always cheat because they’re bored… Or lonely, or sad, or whatever. Being a cheater doesn’t ultimately make you a bad person. You’ve just made some mistakes. You should definitely own up to them and right your wrongs, but cheating shouldn’t deem the person you are. Sometimes when people are lonely on the inside, they feel the need to act out in rebellious ways to get attention… I am not justifying my actions or the millions of other people who have cheated, but it is just human nature. Humans aren’t supposed to be monogamous, but there is something in our brains that persuades us to think we are. It’s a thing called love. You can love someone and make a mistake… You can love two people, I truly believe that. Nobody can tell you what is right or wrong because we all live by a different set of rules.

I hope that the guy from the bar gets peace… And I hope he heals his wounds. Life isn’t all beautiful… There are ugly parts, too. But, it is what we do in the current chapters that matter because we can’t change what is already written. You made a mistake, or your partner made a mistake… Forgiveness can sometimes be the ultimate reception of an apology.

And it is OK to forgive yourself for cheating… It is OK to hate what you’ve done, but never hate who you are. Even if you’re the only person who loves you, never stop loving yourself. And never give someone the power to make yourself feel like you’re not worthy of love.

And if you’re the person on the other side of this message… If you’re the person being cheated on, I am sorry. You probably don’t deserve it and I know it sucks. You have choices though… Sometimes love is or isn’t enough to keep a relationship. Their deception isn’t a reflection of you, it is solely on them. Don’t make the cheater feel like you did something wrong because ultimately they knew what they were doing. But, being forgiving can be just as powerful as being revengeful. Don’t get even, don’t dwell or feel like the need to drag this problem throughout the next year of your life. Move on. You have so much more to live for than a failed relationship. It’s not going to be easy, and it’s going to hurt like hell, but sometimes walking away from an unreceptive partner is the only solution. Think of the demons your ‘bad guy’ is probably going through… And if it is any piece of mind to you, just know that even the shadiest of people do have feelings. And at 2 AM when they can’t sleep and they feel like their world is falling apart, it is probably because they feel really guilty and ashamed of what they did to you. And every time they think about you and how amazing you were, they’re going to feel that pang of regret in their heart. You will always be a heart string.

Thank you for reading.