Two Women Talk About The Healing Process After Getting Cheated On: It’s Complicated
Healing isn’t linear.
A relationship can end in several ways: you can fall out of love. You and your partner may find yourselves on different wavelengths and you simply accept that you can be better people without each other. One of the most devastating ways to end a relationship, however, is when someone cheats on the other.
Now, there are different “shades” of cheating, which makes it confusing and complicated. There’s emotional cheating, sexual cheating, and the list goes on and on that when it happens to you, it leaves you puzzled and questioning yourself. Still, whatever “shade” of cheating it may be, infidelity is one and the same.
Khaye Talabis, 22, a marketing analyst in Taguig, was in a relationship for a year and a half when her partner cheated on her. “Cheating for me is having a sexual [or] emotional affair with someone else, one that violates the agreement or boundaries you set with your partner,” she says.
During the latter part of their relationship, she somehow felt that something was off. She tried to find reasons to understand her partner’s behavior, but her instincts proved her right time and time again.
“My ex cheated on me twice. First was when we were about one and a half years, second was when we got back together after a year of [breakup],” she shares. “I was confused, I wasn't even shocked anymore. I kept thinking how [he was] still able to cheat on me again, even though I gave him all I could, sometimes more than enough pa nga.”
The first time her partner cheated, she chose to forgive him and took a risk in the hopes that he’ll change, but he didn’t. “In the end, all I got was betrayal pa rin. I just don’t understand how someone can repeatedly take advantage of a good heart.”
As for 22-year-old online contributor Audrey Alcausen, she found out about her partner secretly chatting with other women using dummy accounts seven months into their relationship. He had also intended on having sexual relations with these women had he not been caught.
She says, “In my personal opinion, cheating comes in two forms: physical and emotional. The question of which one is more devastating is off the table because both are damaging for me.”
The initial reaction
“I saw a lot of conversations,” says Audrey. “Parang nakalutang ako. I was confused and nag-jump agad ako sa idea na mag-be-break na kami. I was mad, confused, and hurt.”
It took Audrey a whole day to process her emotions before she found the courage to confront her partner. She broke down and cried. Her partner couldn’t even look her in the eye.
Khaye’s initial reaction when she found out about the betrayal was to fix things with her partner, as she admits that she truly did love him. “Honestly, letting go wasn’t my first option, but rather to understand what was really up with him mentally and emotionally,” she says. “Because of course, I was looking for reasons to justify what he did.”
Not everyone processes the situation in an objective manner when they are cheated on. Sometimes, all logic goes out the door when emotions are involved, and you find yourself making excuses for your partner’s infidelity. Were you not enough? Did you do anything wrong? But at the end of the day, you know what’s better for you in the long run.
“When we broke up, the first few months were really tough because my coping mechanisms weren’t the healthiest. I wasn’t working on being better, I simply just wanted to numb the pain,” Khaye admits. She was drinking, smoking, and gave into her vices in an attempt to feel “better.” “[But] I always felt empty because I know those were just band-aid solutions.”
We often hear the cliché that “love can conquer all,” but it’s unrealistic. Yes, it’s possible to forgive and even get back together, but only if both parties are willing to work on the relationship.
“I thought love was enough, but I found myself being haunted by his mistakes and it affected me so much to the point that I was questioning myself, ano kulang sa ‘kin,” Audrey admits.
Healing isn’t linear
“I think pinaka naging hindrance sa healing process ko ay nung una, tina-try ko lang i-dodge lahat ng emotions ko. A huge part of my healing process was about embracing vulnerability,” says Khaye. It might sound scary, but basking in sadness for a week or two does help.
Getting out of a dishonest relationship is no easy feat, and surviving the consequences months and years after is an even more difficult one. You are bound to feel good on some days, like you’re on top of the world. There will also be nights that you’ll feel lonely, but that doesn’t mean you’re not making progress.
It won’t hurt like it used to
Bottling up your emotions without any output for release can be harmful, which is why having a shoulder to cry on was something both Khaye and Audrey were thankful for—their genuine friends, their family, and of course, themselves.
“I wouldn’t have it made it this far if it weren’t for me, too. Pinaka-importanteng natutunan ko is to just keep showing up for yourself and everything else will follow,” says Khaye. “Do what feels good and right for you at the moment. Kahit ‘yung simpleng pagbangon mo sa umaga, malaking bagay na ‘yon.”
You will wake up one morning and you might not notice it at first, but you’ll feel it. You’ll feel it and you’ll know that things aren’t so heavy anymore, that it doesn’t hurt like it used to, and you’ll be okay.