I cheated. Those two words alone carry a weight that gnaws at the pit of my stomach, like when you first descend on a roller coaster. But, unlike a roller coaster, there is no sense of joy, excitement, or a sense that everything will be alright — only alarming discomfort.
My story is so ordinary that it almost takes away from its impact. I was very drunk. She was very drunk. She was a friend of a friend from out of town. She didn’t know I had a girlfriend, she never asked. We became separated from our group of friends at a bar, and absent their judgement I went in for a kiss. I can only remember the kiss, and have tried to convince myself since that I had a moment of internal debate before I leaned in, but I know this isn’t true. We danced. We kissed again. We hitched a ride from a random woman, who probably assumed we were a couple. I called her “babe,” “beautiful,” and “sexy,” words that I had reserved for only one person for over a year.
We made it back to my place and took off our clothes. Touching her naked body felt new and exhilarating. The unfamiliarity was exciting. I couldn’t get it up, but not because of guilt. In fact, my girlfriend was the furthest thing on my mind. As alcohol coursed through my veins, I pleaded with myself to get an erection. I wanted to have sex with her. I wanted to hold her and be inside her. I wanted to fuck her.
I went down on her and she returned the favor. With her warm lips on me I kept repeating that I only needed two more minutes and I would be ready. She said she wanted me, and I wanted her. After what felt like minutes of trying to have sex, but was actually hours, she suggested that we take a shower. It was around 5 in the morning. We crept naked through the hall of my apartment, careful not to wake up my roommates, and got in the shower. I told her that she looked beautiful and held her as the hot water dripped down from my chin and onto her head.
We returned to bed, wet and naked. The priority of sex had diminished and we held each other, falling asleep. In the morning the inside of her thigh was warm against my abdomen. I liked the way it felt. The first thoughts of my girlfriend came into my mind, however my urge was not to get up but rather to hold her even closer.
I lay there awake for close to an hour, and eventually she awoke in my arms. We got out of bed suddenly, the moment had ended. We realized we were strangers. She looked for her clothes and I threw on old ones. I agreed to go out to breakfast with her and our mutual friend and we all joked about our hangovers. The previous night did not come up.
My girlfriend called me later that day from her parents house, where she had been visiting, and asked me how my night was. I said it was alright. She jokingly asked if I got hit on at the bar. The roller coaster descended at that point, my stomach spinning as I pretended to laugh and say no. She had no idea I was lying.
I am not going to tell her. I don’t want to hurt her and I know that my cheating would destroy her and us. I think to myself that I deserve to be punished, that I do not deserve her after what I did. I hate myself for liking it, and for having the passing thought that I would do it again. In the week since I find myself looking for flaws in our relationship, reasons to end it. However, I know that I am just looking for a way out. Maybe we weren’t right together in the first place. Maybe I can love someone else enough to never even think about causing them this much pain. Or, maybe I am just an asshole.