I have made a pact with myself to never get cheated on again.
It’s simple, really, like cutting out unnecessary calories even when you want those unnecessary calories. I will be smaller in fragile hands and flashy in dull ones. A shiny prize effortlessly spinning on the top of a pedestal. With accomplishments underwhelming enough that they do not engulf my significant others’, but just enough that he’s comfortable showing me off at a party.
Maybe I’d even get to talk about him a little.
I will be okay knowing I am the bronze they settled for when they didn’t get gold. Worthy, but maybe not the award they initially had their eye on. I will mute my voice when a woman is not needed and be the loudest lady at a bar for the kind of guy who wants that. The woman with a penchant for slinging beers and talking about political issues. The perfect feminist to tote on the arms of any liberal man. I will speak my mind but never overstep my boundaries. I will be skinnier and big boob-ier, with my always ready to fuck, Olympic vagina that’s won a gold medal in every position but missionary.
Cuz’ missionary’s boring.
I’ve got it all down, the formula to avoiding another cheating scandal. A perfect plan, honestly. The only thing it requires is that I completely sacrifice the things that make me me.
The idea occurred to me after I realized how much it fucking sucks to get cheated on. Did you guys know this?
Getting. Cheated. On. Sucks. So. Much. Like. Oh. My. God. You. Lose. Your. Mind. When. It. Happens. It’s bogus. Wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. I mean, if I had known how much it hurt, I wouldn’t have put myself through it in the first place.
Some things that are shitty about getting cheated on: the slow progression into chaos that only you can save yourself from but have no desire to do so. You don’t notice it while it’s happening, but at some point, the turnaround comes and you realize you’ve been on a long, steep journey into the depths of a place you can’t retreat from.
And you’re in a hole. And you’re completely screwed.
The turnaround happened for me almost automatically. It was all consuming, like a coffin sinking to the bottom of the world’s’ largest ocean. One minute, I was laughing with my friends about how big an idiot my ex was, the next, I was barred from parties because almost all of them were at his house and heaven forbid the crazy girl with the likelihood to break something shows up with a bottle of Fireball.
It was confusing. To be on the right side of things but feel I was on the wrong. It was his fault. Did no one realize this? He was the one that cheated, caused a ripple effect that resulted in the wave of destruction that was me. I may have been hurricane Meggie, but he was whatever-causes-a-hurricane-Jake.
I won’t be cheated on again because I will never make a point of expressing my emotions over issues that have brought me intense distress. Instead, I will neatly pack my feelings into a tiny box to stuff in the back of my closet. When I lose my mind, it will be silent. A quiet battle I go through sitting next to him at dinner. I will look him in the eyes and say everything is fine. And it will be fine. Because I have no room to say it is not fine.
Luckily, the whole world was there to watch me fall apart. And boy, did I fall apart. I took to the internet immediately, visibly airing my dirty laundry in the worst way possible. I called her every name imaginable and never addressed his wrongdoings. Went for the easy target when I should have been focused on the main prize. It was easier this way. Attacking her for the faults of him.
Better to swallow the idea a stranger had caused this chaos rather than someone I loved.
Twitter happened to see, and love, my very public meltdown, with people liking and retweeting the discourse between me and his new object of desire every step of the way. His best friends’ current girlfriend. What a scandal. It felt like a scene out of a poorly written Shakespeare drama. Boy hooks up with best friends’ girlfriend. Boys’ current girlfriend slowly goes insane. The two girlfriends have a feud in the town square about what equates bad feminism and no conclusion is made.
That’s the other shitty thing about getting cheated on: everyone knows when it happens. Most often by word of mouth. Most often, before you even knew it was a thing. A rapidly mutating virus growing larger beneath the surface before I could even access the damage. Did I know the things he was doing behind my back? Did I know the things she was saying? I certainly didn’t. But my best friend, and all of Iowa City, did.
I don’t like feeling dumb. I like to think I am a very, very smart woman. I read books. I listen to NPR. I have notifications turned on for TIME articles. I should have seen this coming. But sometimes the unexpected happens and you’re left on the sidelines, feeling like you’ve been played.
People didn’t intend to make me feel stupid, but they did. For 4 months, I was standing on the outside of my relationship, looking through the window as everyone had a party without me. The air thick with conversations, some of which I’m sure went something like: “Ho-ho Jenny, how’s that cocktail? Would it pair well with some crazy gossip I have on Meggie’s failing relationship? Let me just leave you with this parting gift before I go. Her boyfriend fucked another girl while she was at Comic-Con, dressed head to toe in some silly cartoon outfit. I know! Absolutely wild.”
The future will no longer be filled with Fullmetal Alchemist and Samurai Jack because that’s not what the perfect girlfriend does. Instead of leaving for a weekend to enjoy myself, I will stay saddled like a horse at a watering trough, waiting on the hand that feeds. I will make sure to clear my entire schedule, but keep a few nights booked to show I’m available, but not too available. “Oh, goodie” I’ll say. “What will my wonderful boyfriend want to do this weekend instead of cheating on me? Will he want me to meet his parents? Go to a new film by his favorite male director? Anything he wants, I shall follow.”
There’s nothing worse than the pity you feel from everyone after they realize you didn’t know. Nothing more agonizing than the face of someone after you tell them your story and they respond with an “oh, I’m so sorry.” Nothing more painful than looking the person you love in the face only to realize they are a stranger to you. That you want to fix it, but can’t. He is not the same man you fell in love with and you are not the same woman he pinned over. You are hard, hollow.
Time has aged you and now you are a fine wine that is bitter on his tongue.
I will not get cheated on because I will never allow anyone the opportunity to break me down like that again. I will shape shift to my own standards and live the way I want to, hands-deep in a bowl of mac and cheese with Golden Girls blasting in the background.
It won’t be easy. Nothing ever is. But if I do happen to get cheated on again, I will not allow it to consume me like it did in the past. This minor bump will not be a road block on my ability to love. If anything, I will love the people in my life ten times harder to get back at the person who wronged me in the first place.
Ha. Take that, dumb idiot boy.