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Author’s note: My partner and I started our relationship on a rocky note, hooking up for a year and a half before making it public and official because he was in a committed relationship, unbeknownst to me for the majority of that time. He confessed to me that I was the other a few months before they let each other go for good, and although my feelings of betrayal hurt beyond measure, we made the decision to go down this path, together. There has always been something different with him, and I had to trust my heart to drown out the demons in my mind. I do not regret my decision, a year and a half later, but I still struggle with trust.
A few days ago, I snooped on my partner—dangerously violating his personal space by logging into his computer while he was away. I found nothing damning, aside from a flirty conversation with a college friend from a year ago. Prior to speaking with him about it, and in a frenzy of unbridled frustration, I wrote about the find on my personal blog—and published my concern for the world to see.
An anonymous comment showed up on my post shortly after it was published that read: Once a cheater, always a cheater is more than accurate when it comes to [him]. If you feel it in your gut, it’s happening. I, like you, was compelled to snoop on him and was dumb enough to hang in there longer even after confirming my beliefs. He’ll never change.
My assumption, as well as his, was that his ex-girlfriend was the guarded anonymous individual, and I felt inclined to respond, as my heart silently broke into pieces.
I don’t know you, but I owe you an apology.
I knew you were there, albeit late in the game, but I was blinded by the fear of losing something I didn’t quite understand then. I can’t speak much to your state of mind during that time, but I do know you knew I was there, too, just as late in the game, but stuck around, hanging on to something you desperately wanted. I know what that feels like, more than you’ll ever know. And I know you might not care.
Despite how much we may not have in common on the surface, we connect, whether we want to or not, over the same devastating truth; he broke something. And it hurt. Actually, it still hurts.
I read your comment this afternoon, and my heart exploded. Not because the few short sentences were necessarily true, but because I owe you more than the validation that would come from publishing those words, for the world to see. I have no reason to out him, in the off chance that he oversteps his boundaries in our partnership, and my off the cuff response to information I received as hurtful was ill-placed at a minimum.
You see, the hurt we’ve both suffered through—that hurt has affected me in a way I’ll never be able to fully explain to him. A song reminds me of what was broken then and what remains broken now… a certain look, or lack of focus, during a conversation sets me back a few years, to when I didn’t know there was a you but knew there wasn’t an us. When he won’t open up to me, despite how desperately I need him to, I am saddled with so much grief it’s hard to breathe. So…I write.
Without operating lungs, or clear eyes, or a sound mind, I cannot elegantly speak the words that are necessary in those moments. I open my mouth and nothing comes out.
Most will never understand that. But, Dear Anonymous, you do. Because we share a similar hurt with a similar history, I know you do.
My post, in part, was for you. I was unaware of that until your candid comment came across my phone, waiting to be published. In that moment, all I could think about was my anger toward him, because of what he did to you.
I sat in traffic, wondering how I would offer up an “I’m sorry.” A feeble attempt to take away some of what you’ve had to carry and add it to my burdened load. Tears streaming down an already run down face, I felt worthless, all over again. You don’t know, but I’ve been through a few of these, and been on the receiving end of peeking eyes. You don’t know, and you don’t have to care, but, really, we aren’t that different. And for that, I am truly sorry. For my part in what happened to you, I am sorry.
For knowing you were there, and refusing to acknowledge you, I am sorry.
As much as I take to heart your caution to trust my gut, that has, numerous times, lead me astray. I’ve broken down a variety of relationships following the misguided direction of my jaded heart, and it did nothing more than cause more pain than necessary, and more chaos than expected. My suspicions were unwarranted this time, and happily so, and I am not sharing that because I want to prove you, or anyone else who knows our story, wrong. I’m sharing that because it is important to know—people don’t have to fit into the mold we shape for them.
Our past does not create our future, and our hurt doesn’t have to define our journey.
I’m not preaching to you, please trust that. I just know how difficult it is to live with this hurt on a daily basis, and the power that seems to come when I let the slightest bit of it go. Today it all came back, with your short, direct sentences, and for that, I am sorry. To both of us, I am sorry. I let you down, by knowing you were there and letting it be. I let myself down by settling for a much lower standard than I knew I deserved.
You don’t know, and you don’t have to care, but really, we aren’t that different.
Because of that, Dear Anonymous, I owe you an apology.
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Editor: Rachel Nussbaum
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