Your punishment is living with your betrayalI
Photo Art by Katie Dutch
I was catching up on the HBO show Big Little Lies because I’m hip and on the pulse of pop culture and, without really spoiling it for anyone else equally as hip, one of the wives cheats on her husband.
The more she realizes how much her husband loves her and how much he does for her and the family the more guilty and horrible she feels. She tells a friend she wants to confess to him but she hasn’t gotten up the courage yet.
I’m screaming at the screen, “No! You don’t get to tell him! Don’t you dare tell him!”
She wants to tell her partner she cheated on him in order to make herself feel better. What’s telling him going to do? Hurt him. Badly. Irrevocably. So she’ll feel better and now he’ll be in pain. Or maybe the truth is more that she’ll lessen her pain.
Guess what? You don’t get to lessen your pain. You cheated. That’s your punishment.
You don’t get to hurt your partner by telling them you betrayed them. As if cheating on him wasn’t selfish enough, now you’re more concerned with alleviating your guilt than you are hurting your partner.
Have you ever seen people who’ve been cheated on? So many of them carry that trauma with them, doubt their worth, their value, and never trust themselves or anyone again.
You want to lay that on the shoulders of your innocent partner? What an asshole.
Honesty is the best policy? Bullshit. If you cheat you don’t get to unburden your soul. Your punishment is carrying your betrayal with you for the rest of your days. Your punishment is knowing you took vows and broke them, made a commitment and broke it, earned trust and flipped it the bird.
Your punishment for cheating is to live with being the kind of person who took everything you had for granted and making a huge fucking mistake.
Or your punishment is knowing you’re a huge fucking coward who didn’t have the balls to end your relationship.
Because those are the two reasons you cheated: you’re stuck in a rut and not talking about the problems you have, or you’re unhappy and don't want to be there anymore.
So, you have one of two options when it comes to cheating on your partner.
1. Wake the fuck up to how great your partner is, to all the amazing things you love about them, and appreciate all the things, big and small, you’ve taken for granted.
Make your relationship a priority. Address your issues. See the therapist you’ve always talked about but never gone to. Be the kind of person you want to be in a relationship with.
2. Leave your partner
Notice one of those options was not tell your partner you cheated on them?
What is the benefit of telling them? Instead of one hurt person, now we have two.
Instead of one person suffering the consequences of their actions, now we have two people suffering the consequences of one persons actions.
Instead of two people trusting each other now we have one person who may never trust the other person again.
You made the mistake. You fucked up. You do the time. They say it builds character.
So sit with it. Sit with that uncomfortableness and squirm, feel ill, hang your head, unburden your soul to your preferred religious figure.
But don’t you dare hurt that innocent person you committed to a partnership with by telling them you cheated. They don’t deserve that.
Recommit to your relationship or get out. Those are your only options.