I have a friend, Ben. Ben and I met at work and we flirted a lot, we kissed and we slept together. Then he told me he had a girlfriend and he thought I knew. They live together. He thought I had a boyfriend too. I was going to see Ben in a couple of days. He was going to come over for breakfast. The rest you can guess. It was all a great plan until I told him I don’t want him leaving my house guilt ridden, like the last time. That was almost a year ago. He changed his mind about meeting. I am happy he did because it would have made me feel terrible if he had come over and then felt bad about being here.
I wrote this because it is what I wanted to tell him. It is a stream of thoughts that I’ve not edited. It’s the conversation that I would like to have with him, in an ideal world. Usually people avoid hard truths and conversations that might lead to them. So this is what I wanted to say to him as a friend, even though I don’t know if he sees me like that at all. I’ve written it as a letter because I am talking to him. But really, it is the beginning of a chat that I wish he and I could have.
* * * * *
Guilt is not a feeling. Guilt is a thought process. It is not real and all it does is confuse you. Why? Because it stops you from realising what you’re really feeling.
Granted, you might not want to go that deep into your thoughts and feelings right this moment. Especially since once you’ve faced the truth, you can’t unface it, can you?
But the fact is that what you call guilt is nothing more than you telling yourself you’ve done something wrong. Something bad. You’ve disappointed someone. Perhaps yourself too. Disappointment is a feeling. Regret is a feeling. But what is it that you really regret? Is it the action itself? Or the circumstances surrounding it?
See, a bad action is bad regardless of the circumstances. You are not doing something bad in itself. But you are letting someone down. You are lying and if you’re caught, you will hurt someone. You don’t want to be hurtful. You’re a nice guy, I know you are.
You’re also used to being cautious. You don’t leave one job before you’ve secured the next one. You don’t take risks. You calculate, you measure.
Have you measured your happiness Ben?
Ben, why is it that we are back where we started? There are temptations everywhere. It’s not just me that tempts you. It’s just easier with me because we have a sort of history I guess. It doesn’t feel like it’s only been a year, does it?
Are you being your own best friend Ben? Are you doing what is in your best interest? Are you telling yourself the hard truths that only a friend would?
Ben, is this the life you want to live? Have you given up on yourself Ben?
You and I are very similar when it comes to flirting and tempting and playing.
I like the game. I appreciate a good player. I could never be with someone that doesn’t excite me. It’s one of my favourite thrills. I thought we had that in common.
You remember too. I remind you of everything you’ve given up to be with your girlfriend. Your cautious nature is not doing you any favours here Ben. This is not a matter to be decided using reason. This is all about feelings. And the truth here is that you are letting each other down.
You have given up something very important to you. You’re fighting to keep yourself in check.
It’s tough to admit a mistake. But it’s the right thing to do. You’ve got to do this for yourself. She needs to do this for herself. It’s unfair to both of you.
So what is guilt? It is a thought Ben. A judgment. It is condemnation without trial. Would you do that to a friend? Would you let them do it to themselves? You probably wouldn’t. You would speak up. You would rationalise. So why don’t you do the same with yourself? Why not take a step back and ask what really matters: what made you do it? What makes you want to do it? What are you really feeling? What drove you there?
When you meet the right person, the idea of sleeping with anyone else will be inconceivable.