Sasha Answers: How can I forgive myself?
Hi Sasha, Almost 4 years ago I did something that has filled me with regret….I cheated on my boyfriend of 4 years with my ex. We had been in touch (which my boyfriend knew about) and after a night of drinking, kissed (quite passionately). Nothing else happened. I confessed to my boyfriend. He did not want to hear all of the details of the incident. Filled with shame and remorse, I apologized profusely and he forgave me. I was terrified at the thought of losing this relationship and the life we built together. I felt like the luckiest person alive to have been given a second chance. We have now been married for 2 years. We have a great relationship. I truly love my husband more and more each day. The problem is that I still can’t forgive myself. I am ashamed for what I did to the person closest to me; someone who I know is not capable of doing the same.
I have tried to bring up the incident with him in the past…in that I am thankful for the second chance he gave me and hopes that he knows how much I have learned from my mistake. His response is that he does not want to talk about it, and that I wasn’t responsible (what?! Yes I was). When we see stories of people cheating in the media, movies, real life etc. he tells me he couldn’t be with someone who cheated (what?! Didn’t I do that and he forgave?)
So, I’m a mess. Any advice you can give is appreciated. Thanks, V.
“May the bridges we burn only light our way.”
It’s one of my favorite lines from Miguel’s Candles in the Sun. Please tell me you’ve heard it - it’s so crazy good. Anyway S, the point is we all sh-t the bed on occasion and make mistakes, but the whole point is to learn and move on. And right now you are still lying in the sh-t.
You do see the irony here, right? The last thing you want is for this relationship to fail, but by constantly punishing yourself you’re making the foundation of your relationship weaker day by day. Cheating is such a selfish act and V, I’ve gotta tell you, you’re still being majorly selfish right now. You’re so wrapped up in how you feel that you’re ignoring what your husband needs and wants from you.
Look, he’s giving you a free pass, a clean slate, a f-cking tabula rasa and you’re not taking it?! I know you feel guilty, but at a certain point you have to unchain yourself from that state of mind and forgive yourself. And if it makes you feel any better, on the shadiness scale, you’re really only at a 5 – bad, but not deplorable.
I’m not saying it’s going to be easy but you owe it to yourself and your husband to put in the work. Clearly you don’t have the tools to do it on your own, so my advice would be to find a therapist ASAP and work through your guilt issues.
Hope this helps! Keep your LIFE + STYLE questions coming my way at firstname.lastname@example.org