September 4, 2012

Why He Really Cheated


excerpt from Note to Self . . .
There was silence. She was giving my statement a moment of reflection. Finally she said, “Jess, I have to be honest with you. I love my kids, but sometimes I wish I never had them. I know they can take care of themselves but somewhere deep inside, I blame them for Jon leaving me.”

Hearing her say those words immediately made my analytical-therapist-self kick into gear. “Tina,” I said with an air of profundity, “your kids aren’t the reason why Jon cheated on you. I’m sure he loves the kids. You want—wait, let me correct that. You need someone to blame, and the kids seem the more logical choice. To admit to yourself that Jon left you—left Tina—is admitting that you’re fallible and human. You didn’t hold up to your end of the marital bargain. You let yourself go, and you want to blame having three babies as your reason. But what you tell yourself, delusional as it is, is something that most women tell themselves when their husbands cheat on them. Do you get what I’m saying?”

Again there was silence, and I was waiting for her to tell me to go fuck myself.

“You’re right,” she said in a softer voice. “I used the kids as an excuse to binge and not exercise. I gave my attention to them and at the end of the day, I was too freakin’ tired to fix myself up and play Stepford wife. And you know what’s really bothering me?”

“Tell me,” I said.

“What’s really bothering me is that I knew it all along. I knew that I was letting myself go. I knew that Jon was losing interest. It was obvious by the way he was acting—only I chose not to see it because seeing it meant that there was something wrong with me. I wasn’t that perfect looking girl from high school. It’s entirely . . .  my . . . fault.”

She broke into a quiet sob.

“Tina,” I said, trying to calm her, “it’s not your fault. Can I tell you something?”

“Please,” she sniffled, “tell me anything, just as long as it helps my broken heart.”

“When someone cheats, it’s not you they’re cheating on. There’s something within them that’s empty and can’t be fulfilled. It may feel like it’s being done to you because you’re the one suffering the consequences of the infidelity. Those who hurt others, whether through jealous acts of vengeance or infidelities, do it because they’re hurting deep down. You have to believe me on this. I’ve studied the mind for a long time, and the people who come to me for help aren’t any different from you or me. We’re emotional beings, and when we feel unfulfilled, when we think we’re not good enough, we subconsciously seek out situations to either validate it or reject it. He cheated on you for the same reasons Kevin cheated on me. They both needed to feel young—to be validated—because deep down, they believe they’re over the hill—that they’ve lost it. We were too busy to make them feel better about themselves, so they sought out others who would.”

Her sobbing seemed to have slowed down, and she took in a long breath, as if she was giving my statement full consideration. “Dear God, Jess. What you just said, could it be true? Do people really cheat because they feel unfulfilled?”
“They do, Tina. It’s the only reason they cheat." 

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