Last summer when I finally met the Martial Arts Man across the street, we hit it off so well that our first conversation lasted eight hours. The next day while I was cleaning the house the song “Girlfriend” by Avril Lavigne came on and I started singing along rocking out thinking, we didn’t exactly discuss if he is in a relationship but if he is, she needs to start packing.
The question did come up and he shared that he had recently ended a five year relationship. Apparently it was a pretty bad one so I was glad that it was over. They were not engaged, he did not want to marry her, they did not live together, or have kids, or houses, or a business together. In fact, she rarely if ever stepped foot in his house and he only sometimes spent the night with her. Five years is a long time in my book so I did ask if they were still in contact. He said yes. I wondered why, especially given how miserable he was in the relationship. And it wasn’t as though they were great friends to begin with. He didn’t have a reason. I asked him to stop communicating with her. He said he would.
Several weeks later it came up again. He admitted he was still communicating with her. I was confused. WHY?! What do you talk about? Nothing, I don’t know. What are you asking her? Nothing, I don’t instigate anything. What is she asking you? I don’t know. Just every day stuff. How is your day? I miss you. Why won’t you return my phone calls? Do you still have feelings for her? What the hell is the deal? Why are you responding at all to her?
“I don’t know. Habit I guess.”
I asked him to stop… again. He said he would.
Several more weeks went by. I was sitting on his back giving him a massage in my bed. The thought had entered my mind earlier in the day and had tormented me horribly. I had to ask, “Have you heard from your ex?” Yes, he answered. I tried to remain calm as I waded my way through this disappointing and perplexing news. Instead of asking why, I went another direction, “How often are you two communicating?”
“I don’t know, 5-6 times a week?”
This is where Katie snaps.
I have never gotten off a man’s body so fast as I did in that moment. I pointed to the door and yelled, “Get out! Get the fuck out of my house. Now!”
He reached out later that evening but I really had nothing to offer. I was hurt and confused. We had been dating for a few months at that point. There was no excuse for communicating with an ex-girlfriend who was allegedly so awful to him, after repeatedly telling me he would stop.
We spoke the next morning. He felt awful and would essentially do anything to not lose what we had. I was guarded and hurt. But we kept moving forward. With one final promise to stop communicating with her in any way.
The hurt from that remained for many more months. It irked me at times when I would think about it and I would toss out tiny passive aggressive comments about it. One time he grabbed me and asked, “Have I done or not done something that has brought that up again?” I was honest and said, “No, I just haven’t healed from it.”
Recently, it was brought up again. But this time he was ready to hear me and I was able to articulate the pain from that experience, “When you kept carrying on with her when we started dating, it made me feel like I wasn’t enough. It was unfair.” He heard me, he acknowledged the pain and the unfairness of it, he apologized. And I was healed. It was a tangible healing of a wound. I was grateful and we were closer.
I manage a couple business pages on Facebook. One of them is his studio. It does not have his name anywhere on it, but if you know him you know where he has worked for the past 13 years. This past weekend there was a private message in the inbox of his business page. It rarely happens, but it does happen.
“Why does it have to be like this? I know you miss me and think about me – tell me that I’m wrong??? And if I’m not wrong, then why are we apart? Why won’t you be honest with me and tell me what you’re really feeling? Why did we spend so much time together and then you just disappear without giving any real reason. I know there’s more to it than what you say. And if im not wrong, then why do you treat me the way you treat me, like I don’t matter, ignoring me, not responding, and if that’s the way you want things then why do you still think about me?”
When I read this my heart immediately dropped to my ankles. It had to be the ex. Of course she would write him through his business page, any other way and he would ignore her or have her blocked. I checked out her profile (people really should practice better privacy settings.) She was pretty. A runner. Two years younger than me.
I forwarded the message to two friends that I assumed were not working or not traveling. A girl and a guy. The guy asked, “why are you bothered by this? I don’t think there is a threat.” The girl remarked, “she sounds crazy. Like, really crazy.”
“We just healed from the this! And now she’s showing up again?!” I screamed inside.
I didn’t share this news with my boyfriend while he was at work. Knowing how upset this would make him I didn’t want to do it to him. When he arrived home he walked in and looked at my face and knew something was wrong. No matter how much I try to hide things from him, there is no way around it: he can see through me. “What’s wrong?” he asked.
“I’m assuming the name Leslie means something to you?”
He created this sound that sounded between a scoff and an exasperated sigh, “Yeeeessss.”
“She wrote to you through your business page.”
“Is it bad?”
I was trembling. After spending hours keeping this stunning message to myself trying to dissect what it meant: After all the time we spent together? Well, five years is a long time. OK. But, “I know you think of me”?! Hmmm… you sure? What exactly makes you think that. “How could you just ignore me…” Well, he tends to want to avoid things more than handle them head-on, so I can understand that after communicating so much and he just dropped it, that she might feel jaded. But, really, it’s been a year, darling. Move on!
“It’s not good or bad, it just is,” I responded.
After a few moments of silence he comes out and says, “I have not talked to her in, I don’t know how long.”
“Well, OK. But that doesn’t explain why she’s still so hung up on you. This is your ex, right?”
“No! This is someone else. This is a girl I went out with a few times right before I met you. We were not boyfriend/girlfriend. We were not exclusive. We weren’t anything…”
“But you were sleeping together,” I quipped. (Dick move on my part, I know, but it needed to be said. Don’t try and convince me it was nothing, if you were willing to stick your dick in her.)
Using the same exasperated sigh, “OK, yes…”
“Then it was something. To her, obviously, it was something.”
“I’m going to go handle this right now. I promise. I’m sorry this happened.” He left.
I my two friends as fast as I could. Really, I needed the alone time to process what had just happened. Firstly, I had NO idea this woman existed! NOT, that he needs to give me a checklist of every one he has ever been on a date with, but it just came out of nowhere. He was back in a flash.
“OK, here’s exactly what the email said.” (Grrr! Why can’t he just make a fucking phone call once in a while!) Anyway, I forget how he said it started but it ended with, “I’m in a relationship. Don’t ever contact me again.”
He took my hands. We were both trembling. He apologized but I assured him there was no need for an apology, he didn’t DO anything wrong! And, I am old enough to understand that this is of course going to happen again. And that’s OK. The gift is in what we each did with what happened: I didn’t ever question him, I trusted him fully. And he took accountability and handled it like a man.
We healed and were so much closer than even when we woke up that morning.
The next day when I was still reeling in the glow of our triumph he said, “That’s what is supposed to happen through trials.” I had never heard that word used in regards to relationships. But yes, we have had some trials. And we keep triumphing together.
Today I Vow to accept the Trials and the Triumphs of all of my relationships.