I remember the first emotionally mature relationship I ever had and the day I truly began to recognize it for what it was. We had been together for about four years on and off (as of that day, unofficially off). After three years of predictable romantic bliss complete with candlelit love declarations and fluffy teddy bear apologies, all that was left of our relationship were feeble attempts to recreate romance between two people that, frankly, we no longer were. We both knew it was over, but familiarity, the fear of becoming familiar with new people, and the occasional shared bottle of Absolut Peppar allowed us to tolerate each other for that much longer.
So as I sat in his pathetically furnished apartment one autumn afternoon while he was on a McDonald’s run, I made a decision. We both were banging on our hammers on the casket of our relationship for some time now, now we both just needed a nail to keep it closed. Today I was going to find the nail.
Equipped with my knowledge of his attention addiction and enthusiasm for leaving evidence, I fingered through his collection of black VHS tapes that were stacked in a milk crate cradling his 37” TV. After a couple of Dragon Ball Z episodes and random Japanese anime I began to think I was looking in the wrong place. But the snow cleared from the screen and an image appeared of him on his back, fully undressed and gripping the iron rings of the headboard I was laying against at that very moment. A cocoa colored ass proceeded to jiggle and gyrate on top of him. She was darker than me and even as I think back now I remember the rhythm was weird to watch…it was robotic and calculated. She obviously didn’t know what the fuck she was doing…and I laughed. I laughed because somehow I knew this tape existed. Laughed because he was the liar he accused me of being. I laughed because I was relieved.
He knew when he tried to get back in the apartment. I had put the chain lock on. And from that angle, all he could see was me sitting Indian style on the stained rug with a maniacal smile. He didn’t need to see the screen to know what I was watching. The panic drained the color from his face as he dropped the bag of Big Macs. He knew I had my nail. Now I could stop banging the shit out of that coffin.
As he explained how the cocoa ass had wanted to make a video after she had “found” ours and assured me that we were “off” during their filming, I cried. Not because I was hurt, because honestly I had been fucking someone else for a few months by then. I cried because he allowed me to find it. At least I had the consideration to do my shit discreetly and not get caught in the act. I cried because, truthfully, I had put this past him. All of the opportunities I had given him to be honest, and he lied. He lied for the same reason most of us lie: It was easier that way. When you lie (and you lie right) tears don’t fall and teeth don’t get knocked out.
Initially I blamed myself for being naïve and gullible. The truth is that trust is not complicated as we make it. Trust only involves accepting someone for the best and worst version of themselves that they can possibly be, and hoping that most of the time they will aim to be the best, but preparing for the occasion when they feel the only option is to be their worst. What trust isn’t is recreating a version of someone that he/she will probably never be, Trust doesn’t involve building some romanticized, fantastic icon devoid of flaw, because when that icon proves to be anything less than perfect, anything but human, that doesn’t mean that his/her intentions aren’t real or good. Mistakes, momentary lack of self-control and misjudgment are apart of the human condition and occur even to those under the illusion that they are in the most sincere states of love possible.
I don’t think all men cheat. Both men and women are capable of being monogamous, it’s simply easier to give in to every whim. What separates us from monkeys, cats and dogs is that along with this sexual instinct exists empathy, compassion, self-control and the ability to foresee the consequences of our actions.
My ex and the jiggly ass are now a part of my past. Four years later as I stare into the eyes of the man I love, I know he loves me. But I also know that he is human. He’ll be attracted to other women. He’ll find himself in situations where for a moment it may seem his love for me is no match for physical temptation. I trust my man, but I don’t put anything past him. All I can do is have faith that he’ll be the best version of himself that he can possibly be.