I am not, under any circumstance, trying to win anyone’s
sympathy, pity, or sorrow. I am simply tired of having my character bashed on
an incident that happened several months ago. Yesterday I allowed myself to
become angry at the words of another human being and to myself I apologize. It
was out-of-character of me. In the end, I know that no matter how much good you
put into the world, some people will only remember you and see you as your
faults – to which they have the right – but no one deserves to be ridiculed and
condemned for the mistakes they made, have acknowledged, and are trying to
better themselves from.
As many of you know, because I use this space as a platform
to work through the choices, experiences, joys, and hardships of my life, I was
engaged for a short period of time before cheating on my fiancé and ruining
what might have (or, might not have) been a healthy marriage.
When I was younger, I grew up in a household where
infidelity was present. I remember sitting in the kitchen with my mother as a
she stood at the counter, on the phone, and in tears because my stepfather had
“did it again.” It took a few years for me to learn, exactly, what “did it
again” meant. After learning this, I always said to myself, “I will never cheat
on my partner” but time and actions would prove me different years down the
road of my life.
I have chosen to remain reticent on this ordeal to save
face. I do not want, nor do I intend, to speak badly or what appears to be
negatively about people – it’s not in my character. So, please, bear with me as
I attempt to explain the breaking off of my engagement from my point of view;
for my name and character have been slandered (by myself before anyone else) on
here. I only want my space and time in this life to be one of welcoming, one of
kindness, of compassion.
A part of my reticence on the ending of my engagement is
because people write off those who have cheated as bad people, as untrue
people, as unsympathetic people. We are viewed as people who are selfish, are
monsters, are sick, as people who have no heart (be this cheating only
happening once or numerous times – to the latter I cannot speak of). Cheating,
for many people, is a grave act, an act so unheard of and nonsensical that you
should not be forgiven for it; an act that you cannot return from with
knowledge and wisdom. Like life and people, cheating is complex. It isn’t
something, usually, that happens overnight and for no reason at all. People who
have cheated do not wake up in the morning or from a nap and say, “Hey, today
seems like a great day to hurt the person I am with.”
Cheating is not black and white and when these things
happen, sides are taken, opinions are formed, empathy is lost, truth is
realized from one perspective and that is it. You see, truth is tricky,
changing, fluid amongst its believers. Truth becomes distorted when there are
several mouths speaking what they know to be the truth and the “Why?” to what
happened instead of going to the source of the “Why?”
When I met Sakina, I had no intention on dating her (while I
was engaged) because I was happily engaged to Whitney. Something important to
know here, too, is that I was a new college graduate, was living with my
parents and didn’t have any bills to pay except for my cell phone and car insurance,
and was making enough money to make those payments and still enjoy myself
afterward. I felt complete, well-rounded and satisfied. Communication, in the
honeymoon phase of relationships, is golden; both parties are eager to stay
awake late for conversation, each wants to say their piece and listen too.
Things change when the honeymoon goes down and the next morning, or several
weeks, brings gray clouds.
When I moved to Northeast Ohio from West Virginia, it was with the intent to marry Whitney. We had set plans to marry long before the distance
made her unhappy and my communication was not enough. I wanted to know that I
was enough, that I made her happy enough to fight through the breakdown of
communication but wasn’t. As someone who loves deeply when they choose to love,
I agreed to make the sacrifice to leave all of my comforts at home and move
300+ miles away from family, from familiarity,
In a span of two and a half months, my entire life had
changed. When I unpacked my mattress and books and clothes and shoes and
settled into my small three-bedroom upstairs unit in N.E. Ohio, I felt safe,
secure in my engagement, felt as if I had made the right decision and fixed the
unhappiness that had infiltrated my relationship. I would learn later that this
unhappiness wasn’t a result of my performance as a fiancé but issues felt on a
more personal level by Whitney. Little did I know, that August, that the
hardship had just begun.
My time in Cleveland started off great but as my weeks grew
into 50, 60-hour work weeks and my months turned into long, long days, and
little pay was coming home and my car had given out on me, I grew depressed.
Meanwhile, Sakina and I were building a great friendship.
Mistake number one: forming
a friendship with a woman who was not Whitney and was not brought up to
After a month or so of my moving into my new neighborhood, I
started to notice changes in Whitney, in our communication. Communication had
always been something that we struggled with after the moon went down and gray
clouds straddled the skies about our new engagement. I would bring my
unhappiness and dissatisfaction with how little we communicated up to her when
we lived in different cities and states. I thought my moving would fix this but
instead made it worse. I write this now and realize that her reticence, her not
being able to communicate was on behalf of her fighting her own hardships. Our
conversation and communication dwindled rapidly. At one point, we only spoke 5
to 10 minutes a day before bed. During this time, Sakina made time to speak to
me, she asked me how I was, and did this daily. Something that keeps coming
into anonymous conversation is that I didn’t let Sakina know that I was engaged
but that is not the truth (as I know it) because I distinctly remember her
wishing a happy marriage for Whitney and me when we first befriended one
another. I remember this because her words came in the midst of Ramadan.
Mistake number two:
Sakina remained a constant shoulder for me to lean on when Whitney and I weren’t
on the same page; to Sakina I shared my doubts about Whitney’s fidelity toward
Before I talk about my own doubts about Whitney’s fidelity,
I want to openly admit my third mistake.
Mistake number three:
opening up to Sakina, to someone who was not my fiancé about my issues with
said fiancé. It is Whitney I should have geared my doubts and concerns to. Perhaps
if I had the experience and wisdom of this beforehand, Whitney and I would have
still been together but I digress.
Though it is communication that failed Whitney and me, I
want to make clear that I reached out to her several times discussing my
dissatisfaction with our communication and each time she said she would work on
it but to no avail. Again, perhaps, she couldn’t focus on me because she had
her own hardships and personal concerns. There were days where I would reach
out to her and wouldn’t hear back until I was going to bed.
Now, in my position I felt vulnerable. I was away from
family; Whitney being my only personal and physical contact in N.E. Ohio. When
I discovered that she had another male driving her to and from my apartment
regularly, I grew suspicious.
Mistake number four:
not sharing my concerns and suspicions with her openly.
I tried not to think too much into this but when I learned
that this fellow was borrowing her car regularly, it was hard for me to believe
that there wasn’t something going on. I remember once, as we were laying down
for sleep, a phone call came through and she looked at the caller I.D. and said
to herself, “Not right now (a male’s name I won’t say).” Yes, giving someone a
ride and dropping them off is innocent but the regularity of it and the time at
which this fellow would drive to pick her up seemed suspicious to me. He would
have to travel close to an hour west and then another hour east. He would
arrive at times as early as 4am and as late as 11pm. Another suspicion of mine
is finding another male’s clothes and belongings strewn about in the interior
of her car and trunk. As her fiancé, this unsettled me; but again, I didn’t
share my concerns and suspicions with her. That is where my passive-aggressive
behavior had lain. I believe that had our line of communication been stronger,
we would have been able to talk through these suspicions and whatnot and I
wouldn’t have turned to Sakina (who, by this time, had become someone important
in my emotional well-being).
Over time, it just happened. It wasn’t intentional, it
wasn’t calculated, but it just happened. Something that I want to make clear is
that Sakina lived (lives) in London and we never had sex, never held hands,
never touched one another. My being with her was purely emotional. She gave me
what Whitney was not. She took care of me in that sense.
I would learn, toward the end of our time together, that
Whitney was depressed – struggling with family business, unhappy with her
roommate and living situation, unhappy because she was struggling financially
(so much so that she had to take the first semester of her last year off from
university). I remember the last doubt planted in my mind came when we were
spending time with her family. This was the first time that I had met one of
her older sisters and her sister had asked me if I “was the guy from D.C.?”
Whitney had told me about this fellow before but the question still hurt. It
proved to me, what had been a long suspicion of mine from the beginning, that I
was a secret to the people in her personal life (save those she spoke with
daily). I had always felt a small piece of something in her life. Reflecting, I
realize there was no true friendship between us, no fluency, only frequency…a
sexual frequency that fed our worldly desires. I digress.
Trying to recall the events to her leaving me a text that
simply read, “Jason, we’re done,” is strenuous. I don’t want to do it. I don’t
want to nor do I wish to leave a bad impression on her name and character, nor
Sakina’s. Both are lovely women who deserve and will receive a better man that
me, a better man than I could ever be for them.
My reason for writing this is to let go. Let go of the guilt
I feel from cheating on her. Let go of the guilt I feel from breaking the
hearts of two women. Let go of the self-hate that I felt for doing something
that I once told myself I would never do. My reason for writing this is to
embrace and acknowledge and own my mistake, publicly (maybe one day they will
read this because I doubt that I’ll ever knowingly speak to either of them
again). My only wish and plea is to be given the space from others to grow from
my mistake. With or without it, I will continue to do so. I haven’t apologized
to anyone because no one cared to ask me “Why?” Instead, they answered the
“Why?” for themselves. All assumed and declared me to be a callous and
heartless person, someone who didn’t care, who didn’t realize that he was
hurting two amazing women. Had they the opportunity to go back and read my
personal journals, they would see the hurt and frustration and confusion that I
felt toward my own-self. They would see the days I spent writing 4, 5 page
diary entries trying to work through my behavior, through my actions.
I am an emotionally and academically intelligent man but
even a lion makes mistakes when vulnerable or inexperienced. Cheating is a
choice that stems from being unheard, from issues being unresolved, from not
being satisfied. I take full responsibility of my mistake and pray that neither
Whitney nor Sakina take any of it.
I know my faults, I know my mistakes, and that is it.