How did I get here? I ask myself this question every single day. Life presents us with paths we can pick to follow, crossroads, where your decision will define what the next period of your life will be.
I go back to young me, recently graduated from University. I had to make my first big choice: stay in Manchester or go back to my hometown. All I wanted was to stay in Manchester. My friends were there; my life was there, but I was expected to go back. There was no doubt in my parents’ mind that I would return.
I didn’t have a job and still depended on their money, so I basically chickened out. I went completely against my will and returned to live with my parents. Apart from my cowardice, the other reason was to support my mom. My parents’ marriage had crumbled and they ignored each other most of the time, unless they were fighting. My mom slept in my room.
My dad decided to leave after I lost my temper with him one day. My mom never did. She recoiled and cried instead of standing up to him. It was for the better, but additional problems at her work sent her into a downward spiral and she still battles depression to this day. They became friends and my dad has now remarried. My mom never even dated anyone else.
This is the decision I regret the most for myself but, because of my mother and what it meant to her, I can’t see myself having picked any differently.
Then, when I started seeing barely husband, there were a few times where I could have ended everything had I chosen a different path.
The start itself. I wasn’t really into him and I still accepted going out and pursuing a relationship. I could have easily got away, but I didn’t.
A few months after we started dating, he asked me for ‘some time to think about things.’ My usual hot headed response to that would have been “I’m no clock to give you time,” a line which I used a few times in my teenage years, but I decided to give him the time he wanted. I was upset, but let it happen.
It took him 3 weeks and me going on a work trip across the country, to where my paternal family lives, for him to change his mind. He knew I’d be out with my cousins and friends and he would be the last thing on my mind, so what did he do? He called me on the second day of me being there and we were an item again.
Another couple of months passed and he decided to break up with me. This time I was really angry. I was pissed and hurt that he would do this to me and, even though I cried myself to sleep at night, at work I was normal bubbly me and at weekends I was wild partying me. Another month and he orchestrated a way to meet me and get me back with another work colleague, as I refused to go to places where I knew he would be.
When he got there I had already had a few drinks. We had an emotional conversation and I took him back. Normal hot headed me would have told him to piss off. But I didn’t.
When he asked me to marry him we were at our happiest point. We were getting on, no fights and we wanted the same things, but I still should have said ‘no’ because he proposed while drunk – out of his head, falling down, slurred speech drunk. Of course there was no kneeling down, ring or anything romantic.
I dreamed of that day. I didn’t want anything fantastic. It could have been just us, in a room and him looking into my eyes and asking me to marry him with a smile. I never got that.
Finally came the last opportunity, less the 2 months before our wedding day. By then we were not working for the same company as I had got myself a new job saying I wouldn’t get married if we still worked together. Our jobs were conflicting at work and he got constantly mad at me because of my ‘attitude problem’ at work.
My manager loved my ‘attitude’ saying I actually had a backbone and stood up to him when most people cowered. That’s how I still am at work and I get on with the people I argue with. It’s easy because I don’t have to go home with them. I had found a new job which was better than the old one, so why not? I took it!
Working for different companies meant going to different events separately. He went to this big celebration I was not invited to. I remember calling him non-stop that night, or attempting to, as he never picked up. I knew something was wrong. In the morning I called a friend from the old job and she said she knew something had happened but she hadn’t seen it, so would rather not comment.
I was shattered, even before I found out the facts. We met and he told me he got extremely drunk and made out with this girl. I knew who she was. She had been hitting on him for months, even while I still worked there.
He apologised and said it was just a kiss. He swears it to this day, but most of the time I still think that counts as cheating. It’s not like you can grade the cheating on a scale from 1 to 10. It doesn’t matter!
He begged for forgiveness and decided to go to therapy for a while. I saw he was hurting, he regretted it and he was even depressed for a while and his therapist had him on medication.
I said I forgave him, but I really haven’t. The truth is I couldn’t get myself to call the wedding off when all invitations had been sent, when my mother had already planned and paid for the whole thing (because I didn’t want a party she took it upon herself to organise it – I agreed because it was important to her and to him, but let them know I wouldn’t do anything).
He has never done it again (at least to my knowledge) and he says that was a mistake he regrets very much as he suffered as a child with his dad’s antics (another story altogether).
The fact is I still think about it and it still affects me. I still use it against him from time to time when we fight. I never really got over it. However I chose this path, so I chose to be as guilty as he is.
I have never ever cheated in my whole life, not even on not serious boyfriends, and I never plan to, so what he did hurts me and haunts me to this day.
I am guilty again for accepting it BUT I can’t help going back and often wishing I had made a different choice.