I was told by many that this article was not even worth writing. There have been pieces in the past crafted from the perspective of the woman on the other side of a failed relationship, and to the internet they are subjected to ridicule and distaste. Why would you label yourself the "side hoe" or the "slut" that came in between the two people in a relationship?
Though neither of these given names are ever true, as real life is so far from the fiction in books and on television. "Mistresses" are not always "sluts" looking to go after a man for the sake of personal gain, nor are they always “temptresses” in disguise plotting to see the downfall of love.
I'm sorry that he cheated on you.
I've said it.
You, in theory, are not supposed to sympathize with me. I am the villain of the story, the "temptress" that tears apart the two young lovers and causes the hero to fall into peril. I am the "harlot" that exists only to seek her own means of satisfaction. I am supposed to exist in the shadows, somewhere that is traveled to when hope is lost and morals wander.
In this world, there are variety of mistakes that people can make. We can lie, steal, and cause harm to others; through our words, actions, and otherwise. Contrary to what old movies about high school friendships and relationships may portray, it is not always the physical actions people take that leave the worst scars. In this digital world especially, it is more often the words that we say that become the virtual and mental bruises and cuts that linger where skin will heal.
You were hurt. I see that now. Though the pair of you were tumbling apart, and becoming nothing more than two people that simply took up space together, it was not in my place to interfere. The relationship between the two of you would never have started if you didn't have some feelings for him. It was not in my place to come back and try to take a spot at his side where you resided. While I watched your friends dictate your relationship as if we were all sixth graders on a playground, I should not have been the anchor on the ship that he came back to so easily.
At least, not yet.
All of us knew you two were falling apart. He recognized it himself. The plan to terminate this bond of neutral distrust and disdain was in motion, but it passively peaked one night when a simple action and mistake caused the moment of truth to arrive faster than anticipated.
In that moment of being caught, in a combination of blissful ignorance and compassion, I believed that everything between the two of you was over. You were out of my life. I would never again have to deal with being spied on, followed, or monitored on social media. I could be my own person again. I was no longer going to be subjected to your bough's of anger or distrusting of him. Instead, the truth, though destructive and painful, was setting not only me, but you free.
How foolish of me to believe that a simple discovery of the truth would've been the end of it all.
I said that I was sorry.
And I meant it. As a writer, all I have are my words. All I have are the words I say and the impressions those words leave upon others. And in that moment, I was unaware that the words I'd said or the actions behind them would change how I felt about being with someone I loved, going to school, and even myself.
I was wrong in my mistake, but you were wrong in making it the business of everyone that knew you.
I was wrong in my mistake, but you were wrong in turning people against me for your own personal gain.
I was wrong in my mistake, but you were wrong in the gossip you spread and the lies you wove for the sympathy of others.
I was wrong in my mistake, but you were wrong in curating your social media for "subtweeting" me and him five months after the event occurred.
I was wrong in my mistake, but you were wrong in making me feel as if I was no longer welcome at school, and was now an outcast among my peers.
I was wrong in my mistake, but you were wrong in scoffing at me as I walked past and whispering "slut" under your breath.
I was wrong in my mistake, but you were wrong in making me into the "harlot" that I am not.
What is more disgusting and disheartening than anything else, is your inability to say anything to my face. Instead, you rely on clever use of social media and coded words, whispered rumors and quiet remarks; done not in bravery, but in cowardice to claim what you are saying as your own. Never to insult me directly, only tearing away at me piece by piece in a quiet clamoring to take my happiness down to the level of your own emptiness.
We all make mistakes. We are all human. And I know that the root of all this is not vengeance or distrust, but your own insecurity. It hurts to be put second. It hurts to feel devalued, and I am not discounting that. I know what that feels like. I have stood where you stood; at a loss for words while someone you thought you cared about betrays your trust and your own heart.
But I have also let go.
Life is too big and there are too many people out there for our worlds to revolve around an event that is past. Continuing to hold on to the people that have hurt you is like continuing to get drunk in your friend's bathtub or encouraging your younger siblings to feel and harbor hate instead of love on social media. I pity for when the day comes you realize that all of this hatred, making a scene, all of this anger you are storing in yourself, amounts to nothing besides an unhealthy means of coping.
To be petty and refuse to let go is something I cannot apologize for. That, even in my mistakes, is your own vice and your own demon to destroy. It is only letting go and replacing the hatred in your heart with love that you will heal and let go. It is only believing that the world is bigger and brighter and more beautiful than what you are currently making it out to be, that you will learn to grow up, and move forward.
To wrap this up dear, I will say just this. I know that writing all of this puts me in the position for you to make more of a joke of me, of my friends, of my clothing, of my beliefs, and of who I am. I know writing all this is further fuel to the fire of your own attempt to tear me apart over and over and make me feel as small as you did that night it was my words against yours; and though everything had meaning, none of it felt like it made sense.
I hope that one day, you find a way to let go. In truth, it is all I want for you. I want you to grow up, and let go. Find another source of happiness besides drinking and ridicule. Let your heart heal.
Be brave enough to start over.
And for those who find solace or comfort in the words you have said; those whispered moments of hiding behind a social networking page, and thereby changing your own opinion of who I am based off of one mistake… I ask you to consider your own thoughts for a minute, your own past. None of us are perfect, that is something I can say with firm certainty, and the idea that we can somehow find joy in mocking one another and never speaking up when something just doesn’t feel right… sickens me. It saddens me. A society of so many bright people, reduced to standing back or falling for falsehoods… witnessing unkindness, and simply shying away.
An actress may perform on stage, but her voice resonates with none if there is no audience.
Just remember that.
Our words are all we have, and I claim each of mine as my own.
I hope you can someday do the same.
Love, the Other Woman
Poulson is an Editor for The Millennial Times. She has recently published her own book, Laundry, now available on Amazon.