The fourth side of cheating.

This week's column comes from our lovely Shameless community member Jade. After listening to the Love Etc. episode, "cheating from all sides", she felt compelled to share her own story. A huge thank you to Jade for being so raw and honest with all of us...

Before I go any further I want to make it clear that I do think cheating is wrong any way you look at it, no ifs or buts. It is wrong. I take full responsibility for the part I played in ruining a relationship, and hurting another woman.

It changed me. At the time for the worst and now, three years, on for the better. Before the whole situation unfolded, I was an unforgiving person, I was a person that saw black and white, right and wrong and absolutely zero in between. While it was unfolding I was naive, caught up and unaware that I was losing myself. After it happened I was completely lost; I had no identity left, no self-worth, no desire to do anything except cling to the hope that maybe the worst thing I would ever do in my life wasn’t for nothing. Now all I see is grey.

Here's the gist of it: I was the girl a boy cheated on his girlfriend with. Looking back, there was emotional cheating before there was any kind of physical cheating. Which some would say, and I would have to agree, is worse. He was my best friend, we did everything together, I’d chat with his mum, hang out with his brother, he’d call me when something bad happened, I would watch him play sport, he’d help me with my uni assignments, we would go on day trips - he was my best friend. It was far too late before I was honest enough with myself to admit he was more than that. It was too late before I could admit that I was in love with him. There were warning signs and red flags for him too, but neither of us had the emotional maturity to do anything about it. That is, until it was too late and the damage had officially been done.

I cannot and will not speak for every girl that has woken up one day and realised that they have become the ‘other woman’. But what I want to do is openly support those girls who have ended up being ridiculed, hated, judged and dismissed because they succumbed to their own lack of self-worth and, in doing so, let love become their undoing.

I stopped doing everyday things. I dropped out of uni, made myself physically sick and pushed myself as far into rock bottom as possible. This is not a plea for a pity party - everybody deserves to feel the full consequences of their actions - but feeling true guilt is an emotional rollercoaster all on its own. Adding heartbreak, judgment from your friends, disappointment from your family, the loss of your best friend and betrayal from a boy who told you he loved you is a recipe for turmoil.

It is the greatest displeasure of my life that my biggest lesson (and my most profound personal growth) came at the expense of someone else.

The question most people asked is "would you take it back if you could?" and I guess the simple answer, in a black and white perfect world, is an obvious and irrefutable yes. BUT the world isn’t black and white and it sure as hell isn’t simple. Would I take away the pain I caused another person if I could? YES. But I loved that boy more than I am yet to love a single other thing in this world. So would I take back feeling that kind of connection and that kind of emotion? NO. Would I take back the learning curve that comes with guilt? NO. Would I take back the events that pushed me into much-needed therapy sessions? NO.

Honestly, I am guilt-ridden and in desperate need of a community like the Shameless one. While cheating is wrong, everybody deserves support.

Love is complicated and heartbreak feels worse when you’re alone.

Emma Hackett