Monday, March 30, 2009


I was out & about yesterday doing my usual Sunday-afternoon grocery shopping & had just grabbed a number for the deli line when I saw him in front of first, I didn't think it was him for sure, but then he turned sideways for a split second & I saw that not only was it definitely him, but he had a toddler in the shopping cart he was pushing! I absolutely first instinct was to just turn & quickly walk away, possibly even out of the store altogether & just head straight home. But instead of running, I completely froze. I couldn't even move an inch, or take my eyes off of him even though I feared he would literally feel me staring a hole through his back & turn around. So I just stood there & held my breath...he was next in line to order. When he stepped forward I turned my head & pretended to look at something else just so he wouldn't possibly see my face. When he started to walk away & it was my turn to order at the deli, I ran up as fast as I could to the counter, looked down & just pointed to what I wanted...I couldn't risk him hearing my voice since he was still within earshot. Then he finally disappeared into the sea of people with his little girl in his shopping cart.

I am talking about a run-in I had with my ex-boyfriend for the first time in over 5 years. Obviously things ended badly between us, which is why we haven't had any contact at all for so long. But what's more than that is how deep our relationship went before it went wrong. Not only did we date for 3 full years, but we went through SO much together. We went through his diagnosis with Bi-Polar Disorder together. We went through hardships with his mom being admitted numerous times to the psych ward for overdosing on pills together. We got through high school together. What's even more than that, we shared a child together. And we gave her up for adoption together. So you can't really even fathom the millions of thoughts & emotions that ran through me when I saw him standing there...with his daughter.

Well I had avoided him through most of my shopping & was almost to the checkout line, when we passed each other & he whirled around & called out my name. Again I froze. He came back to where I was standing still & cheerfully said "Hey stranger...long time no see" we were long-lost buddies. It made me sick to my stomach. When I finally turned to face him, I couldn't stop staring at the little girl in his shopping cart. I braved it & made small talk...except he did most of the talking. He congratulated me on my marriage & asked about the wedding...turns out he works with my father-in-law at a steel mill only miles from my house. That made my stomach do flip-flops. He asked about my father-in-law & how he's been recovering since his heart attack. He asked about my family members by name. Then we got to talking about how other used-to-be-mutual friends were doing & got onto the subject of children. He told me his daughter's name is Leighaden, which was a name the two of us initially picked out as a potential name for the baby girl we gave up when I was 17. That hurt & I let it show through my words, which is a defense mechanism I am trying to correct. Then before the conversation came to an end, he stopped & said, "You know, not all guys who have done bad things turn out to be bad dads."

As I drove home I thought about the things he had said, & even the way he called out my name like we were old pals. And I realized that people change. Life changes us. We grow up & we are sometimes so different from how we were years ago. Sometimes hardly even the same person at all. I have a bad tendency to hold grudges against people who I feel have wronged me...sometimes for years I harbor this hatred & disdain for them, as I did for him. But when I was reflecting on how upbeat he had sounded & how interested he seemed in my life & how truly happy he sounded when he offered his congratulations on my wedding to the man who had practically stolen my heart away from him, & how caring & gentle he was with his daughter, I realized that he hadn't been the least bit concerned about hating me or avoiding me at all. All this time I had spent being angry & hateful & trying to avoid him everywhere I went...& he had been free from all of that for this entire time. Not only did he not try to avoid me, but he actually embraced the opportunity to run into me & talk to me. It made me open my eyes & see that I don't have to forget...I'll never be able to forget the things that we went through in our relationship, but I really need to learn how to forgive because the people who hurt me in the past are not always the same people they used to be.


Mrs. Rebekah Simon said...

Oh Awkward! I'm glad everything turned out alright though. =) I don't know what I would do if I ran into my Ex's!

J said...

You articulate this experience and the truth you learned from it so very well. And this is indeed a profound truth that I wish I'd realized much earlier in life.