You are Cathy, and your last boyfriend cheated on you.
You read these articles that tell you to not blame yourself, that the act of cheating is his fault and his fault alone, and you try to convince yourself that those articles are right, that he’s entirely responsible for your relationship falling apart. But they don’t make you feel better. They don’t make you sleep better at night.
Because you wonder, were you not enough for him? Were you not pretty enough, sexy enough, good enough in bed? Had you become uninteresting, had you become cold, had you started paying him less attention?
Was there a moment in the relationship where something you did or didn’t do could’ve changed how all this turned out? Was it that time you fought over that vacation you wanted to take together, when he said he couldn’t make it and you lashed out at him—should you have held your tongue then?
You try to make sense of everything that has happened: you read even more articles, you open up to close friends, you take up journaling, you go on a solo trip to have time alone with your thoughts.
But at night, you just lie in bed, trying to sleep and failing, while the clock continues to tick, a cruel reminder that in a few hours, you’ll have to drag yourself to work on no sleep once more.
When you do fall asleep, you wake up again with your heart racing, and all you can think of is him. And her. In bed.
And how clueless you were the night that it happened, sleeping peacefully in your own bed, not knowing a damn thing about the train wreck that was about to devastate your life.
The man you thought you would marry, the man you'd have two kids and a house with? He’s no longer that man, and the dream is no longer possible. You have to leave it behind now, build another one, on your own, without him in the picture.
You try, every day, to distract yourself from the truth that your boyfriend betrayed you and your dream together so brutally. Each time these thoughts enter your mind, you shake your head, visibly, as if the physical act of shaking them off can actually drive them away. But they never disappear. They’re always there, ready to creep up on you again as you try to get a work task done, as you try to have a casual conversation, as you try to watch a movie at night.
It’s not that you’re not trying to move on, because you are. In fact, you do every thing girls who get cheated on are wont to do: lose weight, look great, go out more, get drunk more, get on social media more so everyone knows you’re not wallowing in your bedroom on a Saturday night while your ex is off having sex with someone else.
But underneath all the flashy things you parade about your life post-split, you still feel unimportant, inadequate, unloved. He cheated on you. You were not enough for him. You were not reason enough for him to stay faithful.
But you will be strong, you remind yourself. You will soldier on. You are a modern woman, dammit, and you will not let this blow to your heart and to your ego prevent you from living anyway. So you continue to lose weight, look great, go out more, get drunk more, get on social media more—and through it all, try to silence that nagging thought in your head that says it’s all just a front, because inside, you’re still a wreck. Surely, at some point, these thoughts will just fade away? Or at least, you’ll learn to live with them so well, they’ll no longer have the power to hurt you?
Eventually, you’ll start getting your heart back out there again. You’ll meet someone new, someone promising, and you’ll finally be able to push these painful thoughts to the back of your mind. And this new guy, you’ll let yourself be vulnerable to him, and you’ll give him the power to hurt you. And you’ll hope that this new guy doesn’t turn out the way the last one did, because all you want to do is get to real love, finally.
Would that be too much to ask?