September 2, 2015

Being Cheated On Was the Best Thing to Ever Happen to Me.

Color run Elena Gatti

Nothing has taught me as valuable a lesson as my partner’s affair and the subsequent collapse of our relationship. The whole experience caused me to grow as a person.

Okay, so it hurt. It hurt a lot. In the depth of my being and to the core of everything good I felt about this man and about us, I was devastated. I had been duped for a long time. I felt like a fool. I cried more than anyone should have to cry. But I also found peace, harmony and the ability to forgive by embracing the experience instead of letting it damage me.

When I finally discovered his affair, my world came to a screeching halt. I felt like nothing made sense, that I’d been betrayed on the deepest emotional level. The deception and heartbreak were too much to bear.

And then I got angry.

My anger propelled me onto a journey I hadn’t known before. It gave me the strength to remove him from my life and do things I hadn’t realized I was capable of. I was angry enough to distance myself from him and things that reminded me of him. I was angry enough that I didn’t want to talk about it with anyone or relive any moment of the experience in my mind. I blared music while I rearranged the house and threw out things that he liked but I no longer cared for.

But I was also angry that I’d become a person who was cheated on, who fell apart and who had managed to gain a lot weight over the previous four years. I was so angry I actually started using the gym membership I had paid for. When I felt angry, I ran. When I felt like crying, I ran. It was the one thing I felt I could do that have the power to change me.

And then I felt better.

I felt better because I fit into clothes I hadn’t worn in years. I had more energy. I felt confident. I felt alive again. I signed up for yoga and realized that I needed it in my life. I felt better about the way I looked.

I started meeting up with friends again. I talked to them about my experiences and the loss of my relationship. My thoughts were now focused on me: my role in the relationship and mistakes that I had made. I was no longer angry. I no longer cried. I felt energized, driven and empowered. I was proud of the positive changes I had made. Before I knew it, four months had passed, I had dropped 30 pounds and I enrolled in classes to finish a degree that I’d been putting off.

And then I was happy.

I don’t know when I fully realized my happiness. I think it happened several months later while I was rappelling into caves in Mexico. I had planned the trip with my ex, but I went on without him. One of my best friends took his place, and as we splashed in underground pools of pristine water, I felt happy. It wasn’t because he wasn’t there or because I’d made the trip despite the breakup. I was happy because I was in Mexico with good friends and I was enjoying my life. I felt blessed, peaceful and happier than I’d been in years.

My life finally seemed free from stress, worry and grief. I felt alive for the first time in years and realized that the thing holding me back had been my own self-imposed limitations. I realized I wasn’t happy before, even when the relationship was good. I realized that if I deserved true happiness, he did as well, and I hoped he had found it.

And then I forgave him.

I know exactly when I was able to forgive him. It was the moment I found peace, when I truly let go of our years together and wished him peace and happiness. It took a long time, but when I forgave him, I became the person I need to be.

While the scars remain, my life has become everything I never knew I wanted. I’ve challenged myself—I’ve changed careers, finished my undergraduate degree and am close to finishing my master’s. It’s been two years and I’m no longer angry or sad.

When I see him, I feel nothing. It is not an empty, bitter nothing; it’s a peaceful, calm sense of nothing. I’ve found peace. I’m not afraid to love or live my life for myself. I’ve become stronger, more decisive and content. I’m also able to love others more deeply because I’ve learned to love myself.

So being cheated on was the best thing to ever happen to me. I wouldn’t trade it for the world, and I hope that others will find their peace too.


Author: Dorinda Burnham

Editor: Evan Yerburgh

Image: Elena Gatti/Flickr

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Dorinda Burnham