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(The final installment in a series detailing a young woman’s path to coping with her boyfriend’s infidelity. Read part one here , part two here and part three here

After we’d been doing “better”, I was again pissed at _____ because I’d asked him if Sarah was Black and he said yes, she was mixed but very fair skinned. I knew she was not because she’d referred to her ethnic background in a comment at the meeting. He swore she told him otherwise, but she looked White and identified herself to me as White…she’s White! Even if she was claiming to have a Black great-great grand whatever the f*ck, he knew her ass was White and it just made me feel very odd. What a lame, stereotypical, cliched sort of thing to go through. Where’s Essence? This would be a great write up for your October 1994 issue. Put me in a sistah gurl novel with all my home-girls saying “Oh no he di-in’t!”

Except it’s not a novel and even though I’m writing it out (more about my own catharsis than providing titillation for readers, though I suppose I’m glad it’s entertaining to some of you), it’s not a story. It’s my life and it’s something I really never thought I’d have to go through. Don’t get me wrong; Sarah’s race is not the definitive offense here, not even close. Her being White is the sour icing on the rancid cake, but had she been a Black girl who looked exactly like me (as in a proxy to replace me in the absence of my affections), I would still be mad, sad and feeling bad.

The week or so following the Sarah revelation was marked by ups and downs; “I’m happy, I’ma let you live” and “I’m thinking about it again, so I’m gonna ruin your mood” took turns. We went to my college roommate’s wedding and I threw major shade when the DJ asked all the “happy couples” to come to the dance floor. I also skipped the bouquet toss, which for anyone who knows me is akin to a Kardashian bypassing a red carpet to walk through the back door. “I wonder what all my friends here would think if they know that you, the ‘good’ guy, cheated on me with a White woman,” I hissed through a clenched smile as we finished the champagne toast.

It was no way to be, no way to live and no way to treat someone. One of my best girlfriends gave me a good sit-down about it. “If you want this to work out, you can’t keep treating him like that. It’s okay to be hurt and you do need to talk about it. But saying nasty stuff and being sarcastic all the time isn’t go for either of you,” she chided. “If you want to break-up with him, that’s fine. But this isn’t going to work for either of you.”

She was right and after a bit of soul searching, I realized that I do want to stay together and thus, had to take on the difficult task of letting go of my nastiness and dealing with our problems in a more mature, productive way. And would you believe that our quality of life went up tremendously after I stopped using every available opportunity to bring up his infidelity? No more “I need to buy a ticket home for Christmas. Remember the song ‘White Christmas’? I’ll never be able to listen to it again now that you cheated on me with a White woman. I can’t even wear white anymore. I’m wearing black to my wedding…if I get married, because you know my ability to trust is gone forever now that I’ve been cheated on.”

Instead of cutting up, when I wanted to discuss what happened, I’d say “I have something else I need to ask you about what happened” or “I’m feeling kinda down right now, because I’m thinking about the situation.” And we talked about it like two adults. We also started reconnecting and having fun and communicating like we used to. And yes, I made him get tested and hell no, he was not allowed to so much as even think about getting intimate until I had the results in my hand. Even after he did get a clean bill of health, we took our time before hopping back in to bed and we got our true sense of intimacy back.

It would have been easy for me to go hookup with someone else just to say “We’re even!” But there is no ‘even’ when it comes to infidelity. He made the first strike, so a retaliatory blow would have hurt in a very different way. _____ hurt me because he was disloyal and selfish; had I then cheated myself, I would have hurt him for the sole purpose of hurting him, which may have been a death knell to our relationship. Prior to all this, I thought infidelity to be a deal-breaker (as many people who have never experienced it do). But looking at the entire situation, while I do NOT take blame for what happened, I see how the circumstances of our relationship made it very easy for him to make a big mistake. A big motherf*cking mistake for which he paid dearly and one that will take us time to get past.

We’ve been doing good for about a month now and each day is better and better. I’m in love, I’m happy and I feel we’ve proven our ability to weather a storm as a couple. What comes next, I can’t say for certain. Will he get another opportunity to cheat and be forgiven? That’s doubtful. If something happened five years down the line, that’s one thing, but if that happens in the near future, I’d know that this was no isolated incident and I’d have to get the hell on. But for now, we’re good. Judge away, but just know that it can happen to anyone.

 

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