It can start out innocently on the front steps of a brownstone in Brooklyn, an extreme hug lingering as if you’re making love right there on your stoop.
You become intoxicated in his arms and in the coming weeks get punch-drunk with late-night sexting, ravenous goodbye kisses, and eventually an afternoon delight in your antique bed with a fervor that breaks the wood slats below.
You love your boyfriend endlessly…this paramour is not your boyfriend.
Now, before the hate mail starts rolling in, I don’t condone cheating or wish the inevitable sh*t show on anyone. That aside, it happens…a lot. Most of us have been on one side or the other at least once. Even some of the most loving couples we know experience it (ahem, Bey and Jay, we’re looking at you).
When my dalliance was discovered, what transpired was a heartache that led me to the safe side of suicidal thoughts. I was a yoga teacher with a loving community and didn’t identify with my own scumbag behavior. Yet I committed these heinous acts.
We can continue to obtusely demonize those who have cheated or we can learn from them, before or after we have experienced it ourselves. Having been on both sides of this torrid equation, it’s not always cut and dry. The real kicker is that the growth that can come out of these experiences can be exactly the hard medicine we need.
Nothing happens in a vacuum, and cheating is no exception.
My boy-on-the-side was hot, but I’m a 34-year-old traveling yogi, I’ve had a lot of hot in my day. My infidelities uncovered a deeper chasm in my self-worth, faulty patterns that weren’t aligned with the kind of life I wanted. In a sort of backward spiritual sense, I actually needed to cheat to uncover these gapping potholes in my character and fill myself up with or without a boyfriend or a side piece.
So like any green-juice drinking urban bohemian, I was determined to be the Phoenix, changing my scandalous ways and rising to come out upgraded, on the other side. So my trifling tartlets, once the atomic bomb of expletives spewed, angry emails, and possessions being thrown out windows settles, it’s time to start the healing.
Here are six steps to end up better, smarter, and more ready for an honest loving relationship in the future:
1. Cultivate Compassion: That doesn’t mean just brush off your shoulders and keep truckin’ that road Siren, but it does mean you have to forgive yourself. You may be labeled a narcissist, a succubus, an energy vampire…and it may be true, but you did the best you could at the time. Now, you need to let go of the guilt in order to move on. Try a mantra like “I am loved, I am lovable, I am capable of love.” When I started this, I was so ashamed and heart-broken I couldn’t say the words out loud so I just mouthed it. That’s okay too, dear one.
2. Trust: This may seem ironic, but you need to trust this process even when life feels cray. Something was out of alignment and this is a way to learn and grow. Sometimes we have to totally deconstruct before we can build on a truly solid foundation. Your living situation, routines, and lifestyle may all be shaken up. You needed this. Take it day by day. Stay present and breath. Try a meditation like So Hum, meaning I Am. Inhale “I” or “So,” exhale “am” or “Hum.”
3. Reflect: Okay, it’s time to start the soul tilling, toxic emotional waste sorting work. Observing our patterns with honesty and transparency can be gnarly. What caused all of this? How can I show up differently in the future? Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages are a great way to start. Write three pages of stream of consciousness when you first wake up. This can be both cathartic and insightful. After three pages, stop so you don’t get too self-involved, then go make the most of your day with a clear head and a commitment to creating the glorious life you want, honey bee!
4. Pray: Kidding, kind of. You don’t have to go to church, lord knows this heathen doesn’t, but do your version of prayer. Gratitude meditation, spiritual exploration, whatever helps you stay grounded and connected to how you and your actions fit into the larger picture. It can help to keep yourself sane and focused during major life shifts. I was on an extensive regimen just to get through the day after my shit-hit-the-fan: 30 minutes of affirmations, gratitude journaling every morning and night, and 30 minutes of guided meditation. It was time-consuming and you don’t have to go to those extremes, but find what works for you, and do it—every day. Dr. Maxwell Maltz determined it takes a minimum of 21 days to form a new habit, so for those slow learners, book out a few months for this step. You may need it.
5. Get Physical: For me it was yoga, sometimes twice a day, often weeping in child’s pose while sweating through a Hot Vinyasa class. But I’ve always been an over-achiever, so I went the extra snake-oil laden mile trying every treatment imaginable: months of colonics, acupuncture, acupressure, psychedelic breath work, a Chinese herbalist up a dingy staircase, sessions to remove dark energy from my body by an Astral-traveling spiritual guide, and of course field trips to the requisite clairvoyant, astrologer, and tarot reader. Some of this helped and some just cleansed my bank account. Find what works for you. It may be running, boxing, or a trip to Peru for an Ayahuasca ceremony. Sort through the new age mumbo jumbo and avoid the healers and modalities that don’t feel authentic. These things can help along the way, realigning your molecules and shifting old patterns, but ultimately, no one can cure you. You still gotta do this work yourself, sweet thang! So try things, and when you find that trapeze makes your soul shine and your endorphins kick, rock on!
6. Love Thyself Passionately: All that loving you were trying to get from your partner or your boy on the down-low, give that to your damn self! You’ve done the reflecting, purging of old patterns and physical realignment. Now it’s time to rise like the beautiful creature you’ve always have been underneath your shady behavior. Figure out what feeds you on an emotional and physical level, and then give it to yourself. Buy yourself flowers, take yourself out to dinner, have a candle light self-pleasure session. Whatever your particular fancy is, do it, radiate that high vibration you’re now tuned to. Be patient with the process. Now go forth and have a love affair with you, babycakes!
Ultimately cheating is the wrong move, but if you use it for the life lessons that it reveals, it may just lead you to the better, brighter more authentic version of yourself and the happy ending you’ve always wanted.