When you first told me about his betrayal, you said you felt “stupid.” Not sad or angry, but stupid. And you worried that the other people around you would think of you as such.
I remember feeling that way too at first.
I remember calling my parents betweens sobs, and muttering the words “idiot” to myself while they patiently listened on the line. I remember my father’s voice rising as he told me, “Do not call yourself that. You are not the idiot here.”
But I couldn’t help it. I went back to every misstep, every bright, neon sign that could’ve been a flashing warning of his infidelity. I retraced his actions, scolded my oversight and danced with the “if onlys.”
My self-pity evolved as I suddenly saw myself as “that girl”– you know, the one you hear about through a friend over lunch, whose boyfriend had been cheating on her for months and you both ask, “How could she not know?”
I became paranoid that strangers looked at me with sympathy and I interrogated every friend that could’ve possibly known before I did– the shame I felt for not foreseeing his behavior ate at every morsel of confidence I once had.
It took me a while to accept the fact that there were probably a few people that knew about the affair before I did, and maybe some of those people shook their head in pity at me while keeping their mouth sealed. But hindsight is 20/20 and to go back and blame myself for not seeing it sooner became exhausting.
The truth is, both you and I loved these men– even when they didn’t text us back for hours or came stumbling home at 5:00 am. Their suspicious excuses and assured lies fell like poisonous apples from their mouths, and we ate them, because what else were we supposed to do? Sure, I could’ve kicked him out the first night he came home late– I could’ve listened to that gut feeling that whispered to not believe his apology. But sometimes it’s hard to convince your heart of what your brain already knows.
So I believed him. I believed him when he said nothing was going on and that he wouldn’t come home late again. And I’m no longer sorry or ashamed of that. You shouldn’t be either. There are some awful people in this world, Megan, and they will deceit you and take advantage of your goodness. But don’t be ashamed of that goodness.
You are not the idiot, Megan.