Last night my middle sister, my fiancee and myself through a surprise birthday at a local bar for our eldest sister. The bar is located in a small town here in New Jersey where I just so happened to have dated my ex. Most of my family lives in the town, as does my ex. So I have no other option but to visit the town frequently. It’s been years since I’ve relocated to central New Jersey and I haven’t run into my ex once while visiting family members. But last night, while walking a half-mile to retrieve my sister’s car I came face to face with her.
As I arrived at the top of the hill I turned the corner to unlock the car and there she was. She was on the phone with someone, talking about a life she created in the years since our breakup when we locked eyes. It wasn’t the eye-lock in which we would suddenly fall back in love. No. In fact, we were never in love. It was the type of eye-lock that’s induced by a state of shock. I’m not sure why it was such a shock to me. I knew she lived nearby but I suppose I assumed the odds of me running into her were too great.
As we looked at each other for the first time in years, I felt a rush of panic course through my veins. I’m still very good friends with her eldest brother and he’s made it known that she hates me with a passion. I naturally assumed that her seeing me would cause some sort of uproar. Happily, I was wrong. Without saying a word to each other I got in the car and she carried on to her home. We once again went our separate ways.
Or so I thought. I woke to a text from her brother that reads:
“Did you see (not going to say her name) last night? She came home demanding I tell you to go fuck yourself.”
Our breakup wasn’t pretty. We were both stupid kids stuck in a toxic relationship. But I’m grateful for her because she taught me what not to look for in a woman. A lesson I believe helped me learn how to love after 28 years.
I thought I’d be able to shrug off what she told her brother. At the end of the day, do I really care what she thinks? After all, I’m getting married to an amazing woman in less than a year. But still, all day I’ve wondered why she still hates me so much. The breakup was almost a decade ago. I never laid a finger on her nor did I ever cheat. We just argued so damn much and I admit I said things I would never say to my fiancee.
I’ve deduced that maybe what’s bothering me about the situation is that I don’t understand her hate for me. Sure, when we first broke up the thought of seeing her made me see red. Yet in the time since, I’ve learned to forgive her. I see no merit in holding a grudge against her or anyone else for that matter.
What’s the point of living your life hating someone that doesn’t even exist anymore? The person I was when we broke up is gone. I’ve grown infinitely more mature in the years since. She can’t possibly think I’m still the same person I was when we parted ways. It would be illogical for anyone to think that someone would not have grown as a person in almost a decade. Wouldn’t it?
Maybe I’m frustrated with the situation because she’s a major roadblock in me and her brother's friendship. He was sadly diagnosed with cancer a few months back and as he nears the end of his first round of chemo I wish I could be there for him more. Yet I’m forbidden from entering his house and when he’s over mine he sometimes lies to his family about where he is. Which, if I’m being honest makes me feel like shit at times.
Lately, I’ve been coming to terms with the fact that her brother is a groomsman in my wedding. I want him to be there for me on my big day. I view him more as a brother than a friend. Yet I have this overwhelming sense of dread that when it’s time for him to get married I won’t even be invited. I can’t ask him to pick me over his family, but at the same time, I’d be massively hurt if I weren’t invited to one of my best friends wedding. This may be a selfish thought, but I know if it weren’t for my ex’s inability to let go of the past, our friendship would be much easier.
As I type these words down I find myself coming to the realization that I need to accept that the situation is out of my control. I can’t make her hate me any less, and nothing I do will change the fact that one of my best friends is her brother. I have to find solace with the life I’ve built without her. As I look around my apartment, with degrees on the wall and pictures of a loving fiancee, I can’t help but be happy with what I’ve built since our breakup. I can only hope that she’s as pleased with her life as I am.