So before I sent the screenshot to mine and J’s girlfriend’s mutual friend (we will call her “Sarah”), I did not know that he was engaged to this girl. I didn’t find that out until the next morning when I talked to Sarah. So when I found the profile picture with them both in it (the night before), I sent the screenshot to J and followed it with, “and unless you want her to get a lengthy Facebook message, you will call me with an honest explanation when you wake up.” To which he replied that he would call me on his way to work in the morning.
The next morning, he told me he would call around 10, so I got ready for my day and headed to Sarah’s apartment. We talked some more about the girl and how she knew this girl. They used to work together. Then she showed me the pictures that were all over her Facebook of the house she and J bought together, the vacation they went on together that he told me was a guy’s trip (I had seen him the night before he left for it), and the picture of their engagement on the beach two days after he’d told me he just wanted to “be friends.”
So, as I waited for the phone call, Sarah and I discussed what I would talk to him about. J and his now fiancé weren’t friends on Facebook (but I was), so I wondered if she even knew he had one. He wasn’t tagged in any of her pictures, which surely had to be a red flag for her?? Did she even know he had kids? Where did she think he was all those times he was with me? God, he’s a good liar!
When 10am rolled around, he called in with FaceTime, which was weird and threw me off a little bit, but at that point, it didn’t really matter. He asked me why I even cared because, by the looks of Facebook, it looked like I had moved on. And “quite happily!” Well, you were right about that, dude.
But, to be honest, it was a good question. I wasn’t 100% sure why I cared, but I knew I was hurt. I thought most of me cared because I had spent the past six months of my life (over the course of a year) wanting a future with him, and then I quickly had to come to the harsh realization that I never stood half a chance with him. I had wasted six months of my life. I told him as much, and he had the balls to say, “I feel like I’ve spent the last six months dodging bullets.”
Well, buddy, you’re the one who put yourself in the crossfire.
He said he’d made a mistake (thanks, asshole), and why couldn’t I just trust that he was never going to do it again? No sir, a mistake is one time. One slip up. He came back after I’d called things off with him three times. He chased me. I rarely even initiated a conversation with him because I never had to! This was monthsof both of our lives. This was not a mistake. This was a choice. This was a relationship.
And, as we talked more and more, I started to realize that the entire conversation was about him and how this was going to affect him. He never once apologized to me for everything he put me through. He never really even mentioned her that much. It was all about how sick hefelt when he got my message and how he was going to have to deal with this and how his life was going to change.
And then I realized it wasn’t me that I cared so much about. It was her. His fiancé. She had spent much more than 6 months of her life with this guy. She was going to marry him. She was about to spend the rest of her life with someone she knew nothing about.
And she had no idea…
The more I talked to J, the more I realized that he was never going to change. He’s told me before that he cheated on previous girlfriends. Once a cheater, always a cheater in my book. He asked me to let the guilt of what he’d done be enough to know he wouldn’t do it again. I didn’t believe that for a second. He only felt guilty because he got caught. He never thought any of this through. Certainly never thought about how it would affect his kids. Or her, for that matter. I always knew he was selfish, but I never knew quite how much until this phone call.
He knew I was teetering on the edge of telling her, so he asked me to give him a heads up if and when I made my decision. I told him HEshould be the one to tell her, but he said he didn’t want to. So I told him to consider this his heads up. Because if I don’t tell her, Sarah would (I knew that just from listening to her reaction in the background when I told him I needed to think about whether or not I was going to tell her).
Sarah actually knew this girl, had worked with her. That girl was going to find out whether I told her or not. I told him as much and said he’d probably be able to talk her into going through with the marriage anyway because we both knew he was a damn good, convincing liar. He had nothing to say to that.
The phone call was full of long silences on his end. He had been caught, and he had no idea how to talk his way of this one. He’d lived his life thinking nothing could ever touch him, and that he’d never have to pay for his mistakes. He’d never thought to prepare for a situation when he got caught lying and cheating despite spending the entire past year (if not his whole life) living on the edge of it.
I don’t know about some of you, but, to me, marriage still means something. I don’t ever plan on doing it unless I feel like it is 110% right. And divorce is not something that I would even consider. Unless the person I am with cheats on me. That is my one deal breaker (I think). And if I were about to walk down the aisle with a cheater, I would hope that someone would have the decency to tell me.
So I went back and forth on the decision to tell her multiple times. I am not in the business of ruining people’s lives. It really wasn’t fair that he even put me in this position. I hated him for it. And I can’t say that some small part of me wouldn’t get some satisfaction out of ruining his life. But that was not what I wanted to do.
But I also didn’t feel like my conscience (guilt?) would just let me let it go. I knew eventually I might learn to, but could I really live with myself if I did? I was at a loss.
Do I tell her? Do I let it go? Can I live with myself either way? Will I look like the “woman scorned” if I do tell her? Would she even believe me? Should Sarah tell her instead since she actually knows her? The few people I talked to seemed to think the latter was the better way to go about it, and I tended to agree. But I still wasn’t sure even that was the right decision.
I’m not normally one to talk about my religion very often. I don’t want to come across as one of those pushy Bible Thumpers. But I am Catholic, and I do go to church, and my religion is still a large part of my life. And a large part of me wondered what God would want me to do. And how would it be fair for me to continue to pray for him to send me someone if I was seriously about to ruin another relationship and possibly multiple lives along with it?
So I called my priest back home (not that close with my priest here) and gave him the gist of the situation. He made me feel immensely better about the entire thing. He said first I had to forgive him. He said I could still be angry at him – that people tend to think forgiving and forgetting go hand-in-hand, but they don’t have to – I don’t have to forget what he did, and I can still be angry about it, but I had to forgive him and let go of the hate that I felt. I didn’t feel much hate towards him at this point, so that was somewhat easy – had this happened a few months ago, this would be a different conversation. I was far enough removed from the relationship that I was even able to think somewhat clearly about all of this, so I did not and still don’t hate him. Fr. Curley also said that I should get Sarah to tell her, since she is the mutual friend. He said if we did not have a mutual friend, that I should let it go.
He also said that it was okay if, one day, I looked back and was able to feel some joy at the times we did have together. And I already do. I will miss the times we had together and the friendship we had developed and how easy it was for me to talk to him. I will also miss the person he was when he was with me, when the rest of his life was just that.
But I won’t miss him.
We are not all inherently bad. But we all make mistakes. But a mistake only happens once. Maybe twice. After that, it becomes a decision. And sometimes, the decisions we make define who we are as a person.