by Esme Leitch

Image credit: Lorna Robertson

“A letter to you,

I haven’t spoken to you since I found out and I hate that you’ll think I’m in the wrong for never giving you a chance to explain but I know I’m not.

The thing is that I just don’t care how drunk you were, I don’t care how bad you felt the next day or how close you were to telling me. I don’t want to know how few times it happened or with how many different girls. The more I know, the more I’ll hurt and I need to put myself first.

It’s been over three months since I discovered the truth of your infidelity and the web of lies I had been living was destroyed. Some days I want to scream at you and show you the damage that you caused, others I just long for the days we’d wake up next to each other. I hate the fact that to this day I’m carrying the burden of our relationship. I’m the one ensuring our social calendars don’t collide and we meet in public, even though I’ve blocked on you on social media. The hurt is down to you and, in my eyes, you’ve walked away unharmed. You should be the one scared to go out in case you see me, the one nervous about how your friends will view your actions, but you’re not. I am. Somehow, I feel you’ve won custody of the area we tried to make a life in together. There’s certain pubs I won’t go in without someone checking you’re not in first. Not that we’ve spoken about it, we haven’t spoken about any of this, but I think I’ve won the cafe we had our first date in and the bus route back to my house out of town. But most importantly, I’ve won the right to walk away.

A part of me wants to tell the world who you really are. I want your mother and sister to know, the rest of the Rugby team, the lecturers you look up to, crushing your nice guy reputation for good. I know that’s childish and won’t give me anything but short-term relief, so I don’t.

Some days I think I could pretend it never happened and, even if just under a pretence of happiness, consider the reality of if we could go back to how we were before all of this happened. Logically, I know that’s not realistic and I wouldn’t be happy so I don’t dwell on it for too long. I never thought I’d understand how people can stay with partners who cheat, but now I’m really starting to. On other days, I want to hide away from the questions from my friends and the kind, but unconvincing, small talk I have with yours when we meet in the street, avoiding the elephant in the room. I can tell they feel awkward; they liked me and won’t be impressed by your behaviour, but they’ll feel they have to stand by you. I get that, but I think I’d rather we talk about it. They have nothing to feel bad about.

Before it happened to me, I never thought I’d be cheated on. Let alone by the guy that seemed to make me feel so reassured and loved. We had planned our future together for goodness sake. Other girls get cheated on, not me and certainly not by you. That’s not what happens when you’re in love.

I’d do anything to be that naïve again.

The more I find out about you, the more I dislike you and the more aware I become of the signs of your narcissistic characteristics that I should have picked up on before you broke my heart. Looking back, your insecurities and paranoia about me being unfaithful was not a sign of love, but an indication of your guilt. Your hatred of my male friends and ex partners wasn’t based on logic or their personalities, but your own lack of confidence in our relationship that was nothing to do with me.

You haven’t put me off ever committing again, I’m not going to let you win like that, but sometimes I feel my insecurities creeping up on me. It’s ironic, but I still have to push away fleeting feelings that I’m cheating on you when I talk to guys. That’s how ingrained our commitment was in me, after all you’ve put me through, a part of me thinks I still owe you my loyalty. Logically, I know I owe you absolutely nothing and it doesn’t take me long to get past the guilt. All you’ve done is make me realise how strong I am and how much I’m worth. I know in the future that if it happens to me again I’ll have the strength to walk away and do just fine. That’s not to say this hasn’t affected me at all; I’m back in counselling and my self-esteem has taken a knock, but it’s nothing I can’t handle. I’ve got friends and family that love me and that’s more than enough. Our relationship never defined me, so I’m not going to let our ending do so.

My mum says in a few years’ time I won’t be able to remember your face and all you’ll be is the guy that cheated on me when I was 19. You know what, I’m looking forward to it.”

It took me reading this out loud to realise how full of contradictions it is, but maybe that’s okay. Maybe the fact I’m feeling ALL the feelings is me trying to tell myself that you don’t need to fully hate someone to move on. So, if you’re going through a breakup, don’t worry if you don’t know exactly how you’re feeling, or if you think you should hate your ex more or less than you do. Just give yourself a break and focus on the decisions of today. It really is going to be okay. Sometimes you’ve just got to take a breath and take a step you can’t take back. It could be the best thing you ever do.

Originally pubished on Humans.

Author Image: Esme Leitch

Esme Leitch

Originally from Brighton, Esme now lives in the Highlands and splits her working week between the local community radio station and her old high school, where she supports students through a social enterprise scheme. She is dedicated to raising awareness of the mental health issues that face young people and, one day, would love to make a career out of writing.

Artist Image: Lorna Robertson

Lorna Robertson

Lorna is a 2D artist for The Football Pools, currently based in Elgin. She graduated in 2016 with an honours degree in Animation where she specialised in background art and concept art. In the past she has worked​ in art education and a bit as a freelance illustrator (along with many other less exciting jobs). Lorna is trained in Animation (both 2D and 3D) as well as digital illustration and has skills in script writing, storyboarding and editing. She was also originally trained in fine art and has skills in traditional drawing and painting.