It’s been fourteen months since I cheated on my now ex-girlfriend.
Thirteen months since she found out.
Twelve months since she became my ex.
And around six months since I’ve been ok with it all.
Before I get crucified, let me clarify. I still miss her, love her and feel terrible about how it all went down. I feel terrible for putting her through what I did and I feel terrible that we aren’t together; I always thought we would be.
What I mean to say is that I’ve forgiven myself for what I did. Specifically, making out with a girl at a concert and texting with her in the days that followed. My girlfriend and I had been doing long distance for more than two years; I was drunk, lonely, upset and I fucked up. Friends who know the story are divided on how it played out. Some of her girl friends agree they would never take a guy back after that, some friends thought my ex overreacted. In either case it doesn’t matter. Though I hoped things would end differently, I don’t blame her for the outcome in the slightest.
Anyway, the point of this is to get the giant monkey off my back. For months after we had been apart I still felt like the worst human being on the planet. And for someone who generally has a pretty strong moral compass, it was pretty overpowering at times. But after a while I started thinking, started analyzing, started reflecting on the whole thing.
It’s strange to take a personal inventory, but it can also be pretty liberating. Here are some of the things I found:
- I sincerely regret how I acted and what I did — more than I could ever put into words.
- Aside from the obvious, I treated my ex with respect, did right by her and loved her to the best of my abilities.
- I try to be honest and kind to every woman I’ve ever had a relationship with, both before or since my ex, whether it be purely sexual or something deeper.
- I know what and who I am, and I’m proud of who that man is.
That last realization has made all the difference. As I tried to repair the relationship with my ex, I repeatedly reminded her that she knew the kind of man I really was, the one I’d always been, and the one I continue to be. She seemed to think that person didn’t exist anymore; she was so certain that I started to believe it too. But somewhere down the line I started to doubt her. Started to think that even though she was entitled to her opinion, she was wrong. I’m the same guy I always was. One stupid mistake can’t change that.
Regrets are a part of life. If you don’t have any, you aren’t living. As long as you’re continually trying to improve yourself there’s nothing to be ashamed of.