*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events as told to me by a friend, who experienced them firsthand; used with permission.
I had a friend who was married, but he had a secret. He had a girlfriend, living overseas, and he would send her cash and presents regularly. I knew about it but never said anything to his wife. That was years ago, and now I can’t shake the guilt of knowing what my friend was doing behind his wife's back.
I remember when he first told me about her; it felt like a betrayal of trust between us. He had asked me not to tell anyone, especially not his wife. I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. It would have broken up their marriage and caused them unnecessary pain and hurt.
Now that some time has passed, I realize how wrong it was for me to stay silent and how selfish it was of me to protect someone else’s marriage while my friend cheated on his wife without her knowledge.
In hindsight, I wish I hadn’t kept quiet; if only I had spoken up then maybe things would have been different. It wasn’t right for him to be deceiving his spouse in that way, but at the same time, it wasn't my place to intervene or pass judgment on the situation either. Was it?
All I can do now is regret my inaction and vow never again to make this mistake in the future, taking care not ever again to put loyalty to a friend over what is right or ethical no matter how much guilt or shame may come as a result.
The guilt I feel has stayed with me all these years; it’s a hard reminder that despite our best intentions and excuses, staying silent in the face of wrong can be just as damaging as taking part in it. I understand that we are each responsible for the decisions we make and the actions we take, but sometimes those consequences can have a ripple effect that extends far beyond ourselves.
I wish there was something I could do to make amends for my mistake, but all I can do is learn from it and try to be more honest and courageous in the future. Now when I see someone trying to get away with something wrong or unethical, I know deep down that it’s my responsibility to speak up no matter what kind of consequences might follow.
You might wonder what became of my friend and his wife. Yes, they stayed together just as they promised in their wedding vows, "Till death do us part." Sadly, my friend's wife died from cancer just a few years ago.
He is currently single.
What do you think? Should I have spilled the beans or kept quiet? Comments are welcome.
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