When a person makes a decision that results in consequences, the moment after the decision comes to light defines who that person is at their center. Will the person own up to their decision, admitting fault, accepting consequences, and grow as a person? Or will the person throw blame around shamelessly to prevent suffering any consequences? Will they take their medicine or will they continue trying to find any way to not be responsible for any blame?
As some of the readers know, I had a relationship with a man who I didn’t know was married. After a year of working to let it go and actively working to not tell his wife, I told her. My message wasn’t sent out of vengeance like it would have been had I sent it a year ago when I found out that he had lied to me for years. The message wasn’t sent out of a desire to destroy a marriage. It was sent because he was continuing to send me stuff after I had asked him not to contact me. It was sent because my friends who were married told me that his wife deserved to know who she had married. It was sent because I remember having suspicions of my ex-husband cheating and never actually knowing until I asked him, and even then I didn’t trust him to tell me the truth anymore. Every single person whose significant other had cheated said they would have wanted to know. After a year of me working to “let it go” as he so eloquently asked me to, I sent the message to her and then wrote this blog.
The culmination of events that took place post-message were eye opening to the type of person this man became when standing at a moral crossroads. Instead of taking the path of admittance and humility, he took one of anger, hate, blame, and threats to my child. That panic and fear that he was experiencing is one that I know very well. I made a very poor decision when I was 20 and had to face the music. I acted then as he acted this Saturday. Instead of having integrity, humility, and personal growth, I lied to try and get out of facing my problems. So when he was yelling and cursing at me this Saturday as he realized that his life of lies was being exposed, I felt sorry for him because I used to be him.
When my phone rang on Saturday (I had given the wife my phone number for any additional questions), I was struck with fear. I would have to admit my faults, of sleeping with someone who I knew was married. I would have to fall on my own sword, unlike how I did when I was 20. When she asked for me and said her name, I started shaking. How do you open the conversation with someone you have wronged? I stumbled as I asked what she wanted to know.
I could’ve walked away from him forever once I knew that he was married. In fact, I had tried but was so hurt and blinded by love that I allowed myself to continue being manipulated by him for another six months. My problem of sleeping with a married man was my fault. It was time for me to accept the blame and face the consequences, mea culpa. I spoke with her for 17 minutes, and it was 17 minutes that broke my heart. She didn’t deserve to be treated like that by him, or me, but she deserved to know.
My husband talked me out of telling her for a year. “Don’t pass your hurt onto her.” The man who cheated on her with me tried convincing me not to tell her. “She is innocent.” Precisely. She is innocent. I had debated for a year on the morals and ethics regarding the decision to tell her or to keep my silence.
Why do I feel like shit for telling her? I faced my music, mea culpa. But admitting my fault ruined lives. There was no exultation, there was no cleansing of my soul for admittance of my sins; there was only heartbreak, anguish, and shock. We had both been lied to for years, but I have healed over the past year. Her journey towards acceptance and forgive was just beginning.
But as she sat there and apologized to me, as she sat there and thanked me profusely, I know I did the right thing for a woman who deserves more.
Mea culpa. Through my fault are others harmed.