"I'd been dating Michael* for about three years. He was a good guy; he was faithful, helpful, and did whatever he could to make me happy. I loved him tremendously and hoped to marry him someday.
"There was only one problem with Michael: He had trouble sticking to a job. In the few years that I'd known him, he'd had about six different jobs. But he was only 28 so I figured it was only a matter of time before he found his true calling and got serious about his career. The only downside to his job-hopping was that he was usually strapped for cash.
"At 27, and working as an executive assistant, I wasn't that cashed-up either, but at least my financial situation was stable. Despite our lack of funds, Michael and I still managed to have fun together. We both still lived with our parents so we didn't have any real living expenses. We usually saved as much as we could every month and put aside a small amount so that we could take short trips together and eat at nice restaurants every now and again."
"Michael knew that I had a small collection of gold jewellery. I'd inherited the bracelets, earrings and necklaces from my maternal and paternal grandmothers and my grandaunt. I knew that they were worth a lot of money, but exactly how much, I didn't know, because I had no intention of ever parting with them. I kept these precious pieces in a wooden box, which I stored in the back of my closet.
"I rarely took the jewellery out, but one night when I was organising my closet, I decided to look at them. When I opened the container, however, I was shocked to find two pairs of earrings missing. No one else but Michael knew where I hid the jewellery, so could he have stolen the earrings? There was no other explanation for it.
"I was so upset at the possibility that Michael had stolen from me that I couldn't bring myself to confront him about it. But when another pair of earrings went missing, I knew I had to get to the bottom of it.
"I remembered that I had a small security camera that worked remotely - I simply had to position the camera somewhere in the room and plug it in, and I could monitor whatever it recorded from my smartphone. So one evening, just before Michael came over, I set up the camera and placed it where he wouldn't notice it. After hanging out in my room for about half an hour, I excused myself to get us some snacks and brought my phone with me to the kitchen."
"I was nervous when I accessed the camera from my phone. My body felt cold and my palms were sweaty. Would this be the moment I caught Michael stealing my jewellery? And then it happened - the camera showed Michael taking the wooden box out of my closet and helping himself to a couple of necklaces. He placed them in his backpack, and, just as he was about to return the box to the closet, I barged into the room."
Caught in the act, and then dumped
"I was so shocked that I didn't know how to react. I remember frowning at Michael and saying, 'How dare you!' I went to his backpack and pulled out the gold necklaces and asked him to explain himself. He could barely get two sentences out because he was surprised that he'd been caught in the act. He looked sad and ashamed, too, but I refused to feel sorry for him. All he could tell me was that he was close to losing his current job and was desperate for money. He didn't want to borrow money from his parents or me, so he resorted to stealing and pawning my jewellery. He added that he was going to buy all the pieces back once he could afford to.
"I'd heard more than I needed to know. Now I was visibly angry. My face was red and my body was shaking. I told Michael to get out of my house and gave him till the following week to replace the three pairs of earrings. 'If you don't give them back to me I'm taking this camera recording to the police', I said. He apologised and promised that he'd be a better, more responsible man if I just gave him another chance. But I told him that I couldn't trust him anymore and that our relationship was over."
"As soon as I closed the door on Michael, the tears fell. I don't know what I was more upset about - the fact that Michael was no longer my boyfriend, or that he had betrayed me in the worst possible way. A range of emotions ran through my body - shock, anger, sadness, disappointment, and disbelief. There was absolutely no way I could forgive Michael for what he'd done. He knew what the jewellery meant to me and he knew how close I was to the women to whom the jewellery once belonged. To have him act like none of that mattered was extremely hurtful.
"Michael returned the stolen earrings to me a few days later, and the following week, I decided to store my jewellery in a safe deposit box at the bank. I wasn't going to risk losing it again.
"It's unfortunate that I couldn't make it work with Michael. He continued to ask for my forgiveness and begged me to give him a second chance, but I told him that I couldn't look at him the same way anymore after what he did. The way I see it, you can't have a real relationship without trust, and Michael had betrayed mine."
*Names have been changed
This article was first published in Her World Online