The Cheater


I’d like to share with you some truly terribly poetry that I wrote in high school. And when I say truly terrible, I do mean it. Brace yourself.

It breaks my heart to be so torn,
I shouldn’t feel this way.
I’m so loved by him,
But still I think of him each day.

One sparks excited passion.
One is my true best friend.
Both bring out different sides of me.
I cannot choose. It will not end.

I choose my best friend,
Scorn the one who makes me high.
I swear he makes me feel complete.
So why does he still come to mind?

So now I lie here and I dream
Of one and then the other.
I wonder if they dream of me,
And know about each other.

Ah, teenage angst. So fraught. And this is actually only half of the poem. I’ve omitted approximately every second stanza because apparently my writing style in 2005 was something like: bad, worse, bad, worse. I mean, the last stanza is probably the least horrible and it consists of rhyming the word ‘other’ with…the word ‘other.’ Oh for shame young Ibis, for shame.

So why am I sharing this sad specimen of teenage angst with you? Because what’s even more sad than my high school poetry is that it was prophetic. Young Ibis set a pattern that I have more or less stuck to my entire life. My romantic dramas have come in twos. First there’s one, and all of a sudden there’s another. And instead of saying ‘The End’ to Bachelor Number One, I start writing the story with Bachelor Number Two. And then I’m up to my eyeballs in self-inflicted drama and I really need to make a decision. So naturally I drag it out a bit longer. And then there’s a dramatic scene where tears are shed and passionate monologues are given. After that, I finally make a decision. And immediately regret it. And then try to go back on it. And now here is the difference between young Ibis and the Ibis of more recent years.

Young Ibis was an emotional harlot. When she was confused about how she felt and what was the right decision to make, she poured her heart out to both boys. These conversations included special, tender moments with each of them. These were emotional betrayals. Words. Since high school, the betrayals haven’t been limited to words. Hello, my name is Ibis and I cheat on my boyfriends.

This truth about my past has been on my mind a lot lately since I am single and searching for romance again. Every time things don’t take off and I’m sitting there feeling sorry for myself, I can’t help but wonder if I even deserve to find love. Perhaps my punishment for causing so much hurt is to be alone and unloved forever.

I’m tempted to list the betrayals now. Maybe even categorize them. Rank them on a scale. But I already know that confession isn’t enough. Confession doesn’t make what I’ve done ok. Although I will mention that after the confessions and the subsequent fallouts, the boys I betrayed all found love with other people. One is living with his beautiful, model-esque girlfriend that he’s been with for over five years now. The next just recently got engaged. Another just moved in with his talented and brilliant girlfriend. They all met the loves of their lives right after I unceremoniously ripped their hearts out and used them for target practice. The wronged have been rewarded by the Universe. And I sincerely wish them nothing but good things because they always did deserve the very best. But what does the Universe have planned for me?

If I continue with the pattern I set in high school, obviously I will never find love that lasts. I don’t want to be that girl. I’ve thrown out quite a line about it though. “Relationships are for the faithful.” As if I’m proud of what I’ve done. How can I be? I have friends that have been cheated on. I’ve seen how much it hurts them. I’m not proud. I’m ashamed. Disgusted. Why have I done these things? Why have I done them more than once? Lack of a moral compass? Innate selfishness? Cowardice? I don’t lack a moral compass. I know when I’ve done wrong. But selfish? Yes. Cowardly? Yes. These are not the kinds of words you want to use to describe yourself. These are the kinds of words that encourage self-loathing.

I finally know that I will never go down that road again. I want to be worthy of a great love. I want to be proud of who I am. And this will require so much more than confession. It’s not a matter of being forgiven by any of the people I’ve hurt now. They’ve all moved on. I’m not part of their lives, not even an important part of their story. The forgiveness I need now is my own. I have to acknowledge that part of me and then move on. Because if I keep thinking of myself as the girl who cheats, then that’s who I will be. There would be no reason not to do it again. But if I can start thinking of myself as the girl who loves deeply and faithfully, then I have something even more precious than love to lose. My good opinion of myself.



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