I’ve had a relationship column for a long time, and one of the questions I get asked the most is, ‘I was cheated on, how do I come back from that?’ I’ve found cheating is very rarely about the act of infidelity itself; it’s about all the things that led to it, which is what inspired my Audible project, Clean Slate, a novella about partners Cam and Holly who are both unfaithful. I was fascinated by the idea of dual infidelity. If you both cheat, who gets to have the high-horse? Is there one?
I don’t believe we live in such a binary world where when you cheat, it’s over. Or you don’t cheat, and you’re perfectly happy. Relationships can be miserable all by themselves without an inkling of infidelity. You can ride through it, but “work” is the keyword. It takes work. Work! And then you’ve got to retrain yourself.
I said to my friend once that the primal part of your head, the scar tissue, the trigger, will be there unless you work on it. I don’t have any of those problems anymore, because I’m with a completely different person who I trust wholly. I feel incredibly secure in my relationship with Hamish [Blake], and I think you can probably only have those discussions about fidelity and trust when you feel incredibly secure. I feel very proud of my marriage, after what feels like fucking 10 years, because Hamish and I are best mates.
There’s no such thing as perfect, and certainly not when it comes to two different people trying to coexist every day with the ups and downs of life. I’ve had friends in these dream relationships where their partner is so in love with them. And then, it’s like movie shit. Double lives, finding credit cards with flowers for his mistress. Chronic drug addictions that he’s concealed with work. You couldn’t make it up.
Cheating is part of life. I think the challenge is to try and figure out why you’ve been presented with it. Every “bad” thing that you’re given in life will ultimately make you more resilient and wiser, in terms of going in next time with your eyes wide open. I think for those who stay and work on it, they’re given a new depth of love because they’ve done a heap of work and they’ve come out stronger. And that is kind of a blessing.
Clean Slate is available on Audible now. Visit audible.com.au/cleanslate.
This article originally appeared in the December 2020 issue of marie claire Australia.