The Other Woman

Is the other woman really the enemy? Is she really the other woman?

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Things are not always what they seem.  When you have been involved with someone that has proven to cause more toxicity than peace in your world, and are freshly out of the toxic relationship, you tend to see anyone who is involved with that individual as destructive as well.  Especially if you see that that the person you were involved with has quickly moved on to the next woman…  The one that infamously gets coined as the other woman…  I am not speaking of the other woman that knowingly and willingly causes harm to a relationship.  But the other woman that gets this title because she happens to be the next one to fall victim of his fabricated charm.   

When the wounds are fresh, it is easy to lash out and label this woman as the betrayer of all women.  But what if she doesn’t know the harm that he has caused? What if she simply sees the appeal in him that you initially saw in him? 

I have definitely been guilty of jumping to conclusions about the other woman. I have had friends that have chimed in with their statements of “he definitely downgraded when he chose her” or “you are so much prettier and smarter than her.” Which, let’s be real, it is amazing to have a tribe of women who have your back.

I have been through quite a few rough breakups that have done great damage. But as I took the time to work on myself and have become more healthy and stable than I have ever been, I couldn’t help but think about the other woman.

Is he causing anxiety in her so bad that she struggles to sleep at night? Is her depression so intense that she is missing meals? Is she trying to be what she thinks he wants her to be and feeling like she is not enough? Is she comparing herself to other woman that he seems to be showing more interest in than her? Does she leap to her phone every time it beeps to see if he took a moment to think of her?

I remind myself that she is a woman who has emotions. Although I believe in change. And that it is possible for him to be a better man. I also remind myself that in truly changing, you take responsibility for your actions. And from what I have experienced, most men make their ex-girlfriends out to be crazy. And as women, we tend to take the bait and believe every word they utter from their lips.

Why is this the case? Why are we so quick to believe that the other woman is toxic and he was just an innocent bystander?

I believe a lot of why we choose to believe is because society continues to apply pressure on the belief that if we are not in a couple, there must be something wrong. Furthermore, if we are not in a couple by a certain age, we are running behind.

I am guilty of falling in line with that belief. Of course, I would tell myself that it was love and the guy at the time was the one, only to find out that he was not at all right for me.

It took so long for me to figure out that my life was delicate and I was not being wise in who I was allowing in my life. He can utter a string of pretty words and I allowed myself to get hooked.

When I finally took a step back, I came to the realization that I was a walking ball of anxiety because of who I allowed in my life. I welcomed the toxicity. He told me that I was pretty, so I allowed myself to be flattered. He told me that he had never met anyone like me and that I was different, so I allowed myself to believe him.

However once he knew that I was hooked, that is the exact moment he took a step back. I was no longer a challenge. He had me. I would wait around for his calls or text messages. If I didn’t hear from him, my day would be ruined.

But he wouldn’t completely ignore me. He knew that if he showed just the bare minimum sign of affection, he could keep me for as long as he wanted.

And when it came to the moment where I couldn’t take it and told him how I felt, he was gone quicker than I can finish my sentence. And on to his next victim. The next girl that he would tell how she was different, how he fell in love with her, how she was perfect for him.

And then it was the next girl’s turn to observe his ex-girlfriend list and swallow every lie he uttered about her. “She’s obsessive and crazy.”

Yes… it is possible for men to change. But let’s be real, it does not happen over night. And the girl he left behind, remember he was once reciting all of his beautiful words to her. It is so easy to think that he could only be sweet to you and that he just had a string a bad luck in dating, but it is also naive to think that way.

I have been naive in my thinking. And I knew that in my life if I wanted to be different and not follow the trend of hating the other women, I needed to make a change. I needed to humble myself. Although being humble sounds pretty, it is not easy. You have to admit when you have been wrong. And so I knew that in order to be truly humble, I needed to reach out to those women whom I unfairly judged. Yes, I was going to cross a line I have never crossed and take the risk.

Of course I had the fear of looking like the crazy ex-girlfriend or the chick who could not get enough drama in her life. Before I actually took the step in reaching out, I prayed. The verse that God put in my heart was from Psalm 139 “Lord, you have seen what is in my heart. You know all about me. You know when I sit down and when I get up. You know what I’m thinking even though You are far away. You know when I go out to work and when I come back home. You know exactly how I live.” 

That is when I realized that it does not matter how my apology is viewed because God knows my intentions and He is the One that I am accountable to. So I ventured out of my comfort zone. I reached out to the women whom I felt that I judged without knowing the full story.

I must say that doing this was not the most comfortable feeling I have felt, but I knew that this was part of my journey to continue walking in peace. Another Bible verse that came to mind was Romans 12:18,“If it is possible on your part, live at peace with everyone.” I knew that not everyone I reached out to was going to believe that I was reaching out to just be at peace with them, but I continued to remind myself that I knew my intentions and far more importantly, God always knows my intentions.

So I looked up as many women as I could think of whom I feel I unfairly labeled as the other woman. I reached out through social media, phone calls, and emails. I was surprised on how many women were receptive to my apology. Although not all of my messages or phone calls were returned, which was to be expected, I felt a weight that I did not even know I was carrying lifted and a peace of mind that I had never experience consume me.

And I knew this experience made me different in that whether I received a reply or call back or not, I knew that I respected each and every woman that I reached out to and that was enough for me. As far as how my message of apology was perceived, it took me awhile to understand that others’ opinions of me are none of my business.

So the message, I suppose, is to truly respect one another in any way you know how… You may be feeling the sting of hurt, so allow yourself to feel hurt, as it is healthy and very normal. But do not allow the hurt to turn into bitterness. Bitterness can prevent you from moving on in your life. Bitterness prevented me from moving on for so long in my life.

When I chose to ditch the bitterness, my life did not turn into sunshine and flowers, but it did help me to recognize that every relationship is a risk and when you enter into it, you are choosing to tell that person that they are worth the risk. And furthermore, it allowed me to become more picky in deciding who I was going to allow into my life.

So I am a girl living in this world without a trace of bitterness. I never thought that to be possible. Again it isn’t a perfect life. I struggle. But I have learned to let go. I have learned to trust my faith. I have learned to ask for help. I have learned to admit when I have reached my limit. I have learned that I am only human…

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