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Staying after being cheated on

29 Jul 2018 at 09:13hrs | Views
STRANGERS love telling me their problems. I have often wondered why most people I bump into immediately open up and tell me shocking personal secrets. A lady I had never met before told me this tragic story.

"The only time I have ever suffered in my life, was when I was cheated on. I could not understand why it had happened. I spent years thinking it was my fault and I underwent several personal changes to try and make myself "heat-proof.'"

She said she remembers spending hours, months, days and years even, grilling the culprit about what it is that made him cheat on her. Sometimes the answer would be, she was not giving him enough attention. She would then go on an attention giving spree, only to be shocked yet again by the discovery of another affair.

"But I'm giving you attention," she would cry, then the answer would be, "you don't respect me enough!" leading her to periods of agreeing to utterly ridiculous endeavours and biting her tongue at the face of the worst kind of contempt and total disregard for her feelings.

She said her ego had never suffered as much as it did when she was being cheated on. Her self-esteem plummeted to the lowest levels as she was convinced there must have been something "inadequate" about her, something unsatisfactory and unlovable.

"I remember crying all the time, I recall the moments of deep despair and helplessness," she said.

I watched her helplessly as she continued, not knowing what to do; not knowing what to say. All I could do was listen. And she went on:

"The pain was unbearable. The mere thought that the person I loved deeply and could never dream of hurting or being unfaithful to; did not share those feelings used to rip my heart to pieces. I read all the self-help books, from Stormie Omartian's The power of a praying wife to the famous Fascinating woman-hood, by Helen Andelin, all to no avail."

The embarrassment of being cheated on was more than she could bear. She felt as if everyone knew and the fact that she had people pitying her, laughing at her, judging her and even trying to help her, was more than her fragile soul could bear, she said.

"I have always been a 'private' person. Being cheated on took that away from me. My life became open to dissection to anyone slightly interested in me and I became more of a recluse because of it. I avoided people, from my family and friends, to acquaintances and clients; because I couldn't bear to be an object of sympathy and 'charity' of any kind."

She says she avoided some people because they kept advising her to leave. She said, "I hated that with a passion because I was not ready to give up on my dream of being happy with my 'cheater', and being told I had to leave him made me feel stupid. I suppose I knew that the intelligent thing to do, was to let go, but for reasons I cannot fully explain, I still had hope."

I told her I didn't understand. I asked her to explain. This is what she said:

"I will try and reveal some of those reasons why I stayed. They are more of fears, than reasons. My biggest fear, I believe, was rejection. This one is difficult to explain, but I will try. Because this guy kept coming back after I discovered his affairs, it gave me an 'illusion' of not being rejected. Somehow the fact that he would come back and apologise and tell me he still loved me and wanted me to stay, fed my need to feel 'needed' by him."

She went on with her explanation.

"I suppose finding out he was cheating, would make me feel rejected, then him coming back to say I need you, would soothe that pain of being rejected by him in the first place and make me hold on to the thought that 'ok, I am lovable after all. He didn't really reject me, maybe we can work things out.' Sordid, I know. But it was what it was! In other words, he would break me and put me back together again; only to break me again . . . he became both my tormentor and my saviour. A cycle that would take me years to break."

I remember her mentioning that she was afraid of failure and didn't want to be that woman with a failed marriage. The divorcee who couldn't keep a man.

She went on to say, "when I think about it now, how trivial, superficial and vain my fears were, I feel like beating myself up for all the unnecessary torture I put myself through. I also didn't want to prove my advisors right. The ones who had warned me against getting into the relationship in the first place. I dreaded the words 'we told you so'. And for those stupid reasons, I stayed, I endured, I suffered in silence."

I found her feelings terribly heartbreaking, even more so when she continued and said:

"The fear of judgement also held me hostage. What would people say? They would say I didn't love my children enough to stay for their sake. They would think I must have done something for me to be unmarried again. There was always the unspoken (sometimes spoken) question: what do you do that drives him away? They already thought the reason for his cheating was that I must have been a bad wife; he was running away from something at home; so I didn't want to validate those assumptions by having them think maybe he finally left me."

This left me wondering; why do people always think there's something wrong with the victim whenever we come across such cases. Why do we believe that women somehow are to blame whenever they are treated badly?

She said she was also afraid to exhibit weakness. She couldn't imagine seeming weak. She hated to be in a position where people saw her as that "poor little victim. She said she wanted to preserve the image of being a thriving, happy   person who had her life together.

To justify her staying, she found herself blaming everyone except the perpetrator. She hated his friends for taking him away from home. She blamed his parents for failing to reign in their son. She even felt anger towards his mistresses for "stealing" her man. All this because, putting the blame on him, would have forced her to realise he had to go. And for some reason, that was not an option. For that reason she focused all her pain, anguish and bitterness on everyone else, except him.

"Are you still together", I asked?

She says she woke up one day and decided to take control of her life. She says her fears crumbled once she made came to that decision. For the first time in their relationship, she accepted the fact that he did not love her and never could, not in the way she wanted to be loved. She said she  was enveloped by a great sense of relief and finally had the answer. She left.

This lady's story broke my heart because I know it is the reality of a lot of people today. People are suffering in silence because we refuse to discuss these things openly.

As humans we need to tell each other that being cheated on is never your fault. If someone is unhappy with you they should be bold enough to let you go.

Human sexuality is unstable, and cheating is not necessarily a sign that someone does not want to be with you. Some people cheat simply because they can, and because they think you will never catch them. Some because they do not value you enough. Some fall in love with other people. The reasons differ but none of them should reflect badly on you, meaning being cheated on should not embarrass you!

We seem to stay in unhealthy, unhappy relationships because we are afraid of judgement. Yet the people we fear will judge us, are also afraid we are judging them. Making us a community of perpetually unhappy people, all afraid of what the other will say about the other's problem. True freedom comes when we overcome the fear of what others will say.

Source - zimpapers
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