Many of us can remember that indescribable pain of our first epic breakup. That debilitating sadness that lingers even though your instincts are screaming to just get over it all.
What I discovered firsthand is that, this sadness and hurt can become especially confusing when the heartbreak is a product of infidelity.
Two years ago, it was my turn for the epic first-love heartbreak and it hit me like a ton of bricks. I had been dating my girlfriend for over two years at the time and I was absolutely crazy about her. It was that kind of passionate love you read about, or hear about and only hope that you can experience one day. A whirlwind type of love with a consuming intensity.
In my usual dating fashion, she was very different than me in many ways. She was a firecracker! This loud-mouthed, unpredictable, party-girl bartender and I absolutely could not get enough of it. For the first time in a long time, I felt content. We had a beautiful apartment together, in a city that I loved. I was close with her family and I was fairly certain this was how I wanted to spend the rest of my life.
Well, that was not what happened.
About 15 friends, including my then-girlfriend and I, decided to take a trip to Miami as we had done for the past 2 years. She headed there a day earlier than I did. Given that I worked 9 to 5 and her bar gave her more flexibility than my job gave me, this was how it had to be. She met a few others girls down there who were able to go earlier and they began vacationing right away.
It didn't take me long to feel that something was up.
It's a weird female instinct we have, that feeling in your gut that something is going on with your partner, even if they are in another country. All of a sudden she was taking my calls less, seemed more agitated with me, and generally just not her usual self.
When I got to Miami the next day, it was so much worse than I had expected. Not only had she cheated on me physically, she had developed an emotional attachment to this girl that far surpassed any sympathy she had for me in that moment.
Her blinders were on, and to her, I no longer existed.
The worst part about this situation was the "other woman" so to speak, was part of our friend group and I now had to spend the next 5 days in their company trying to figure out what was going to happen with my relationship, while simultaneously trying to keep my ego at bay.
To make a long story short, what it took me close to two years to realize was, that her cheating was the best thing she could have done for me. I was so blindly consumed by my feelings for her, that I failed to realize that she was so incredibly wrong for me.
Sometimes we find ourselves in relationships that don't allow for us to grow but while we are in them, it's close to impossible to realize that's the case. I needed her to do something so awful to me that it forced me to leave her for the sake of my own dignity. Otherwise, I truly would never have left.
What I didn't realize at the time was, that I was so clearly confusing love, with infatuation. I was obsessed with living vicariously through this person that was so different from me as a means to better understand the human experience.
There are so many things in my life that I would not have, had I not gone through that traumatizing experience. I would not live in Vancouver, I would not have the job I have now, and there are so many incredibly inspiring people I would never have met.
Being cheated on deepened my understanding of the human experience. It allowed me to feel real pain, heartache, and sadness and awarded me a type of empathy I wouldn't otherwise possess. It gave me a new life, and although the road to getting here was rocky and difficult, I wouldn't change it for the world.