Oh my, the title is so corny…you will see why shortly 😉
Today I ran into someone I have not seen in about nine months. Not someone I expected to see in a million years. Not someone I wanted to see. But nevertheless, there she was. Standing in front of me, talking to me….
My ex-boyfriend’s ex-wife.
There’s alot of “ex” in that statement, and alot of relationship “oomph,” so for those of you who are into that sort of thing, hang in while I dump some drama on you. Here we go.
I currently have two jobs, and one of them is at the community college that I have been attending for the past year. This week has been triage registration period, so I’ve been helping people troubleshoot gmail and webadvisor issues, fill out applications and financial aid, walk them around the campus, teach orientation classes, and make student IDs. I actually LOVE it.
This afternoon, I was sitting at a table with another employee, doing registration, and saw HER come in.
I really can’t explain how I felt in that moment. It was an undefinable emotion–not anger, not fear, not pain, not panic. But whatever is was made my heart-rate jump faster than it does on roller coaster drops, and when I looked down I saw my hands were shaking. SHAKING. “Girl, you can’t do this again,” I heard the little voice in my mind saying, “You can’t lose ANOTHER job over this stuff. Two, you’re still in the game, but three strikes and you’re out. This is your third chance. Pull yourself together…don’t blow it.”
So I did. I smiled, and asked her how I could help. I got her a registration paper and asked for her name, even though I already knew what it was. I wrote it on the paper, trying to disguise the fact that my hand was trembling with every letter. Later, I had to find her paper again because the other employees had lost it, and then walk her to the adviser’s office. At the end of it, she smiled and said, “thank you,” and I smiled back.
The whole time, the Imagine Dragons song was playing over and over again in my mind,
“When you feel my heat, look into my eyes, it’s where my demons hide, it’s where my demons hide. Don’t get too close, it’s dark inside…”
She looked right into my eyes and saw a nameless person. A face in the crowd. Any girl with brown hair and hazel eyes and a neon yellow uniform shirt.
I looked into her eyes and saw all my demons–dark, angry, prepared to break me down with a single blow–staring back at me. And that undefinable feeling…the feeling that I got from knowing that I had held hands with her ex-husband as we walked around the Target parking lot late at night, that I had hugged her son, given him a present for his birthday, that I knew so much…SO MUCH about her… I could have pulled off a Sherlock Holmes gimmick–the ones where he looks at a stranger and tells them everything about their past and present based off of physical cues–and have a darn good time with it too. I know a fair amount about her. But she knows nothing about me. Nothing. NOTHING.
That undefinable feeling…I couldn’t pin it down…but it was so strong. As I sat there, and she sat a little ways away from me…I couldn’t stop thinking.
In part, I feel like I owe her an apology–the kind where you get down on your knees and beg for forgiveness through tears. No matter how much I am told otherwise, I will always feel partially responsible for their divorce. I will always feel like the person, clothed in black, who stabbed her in the dark and then ran away without a word and left the wreckage behind.
But in the other part, I am angry. Because she hurt him. I know things she did, things she still does today, and for all the damage done she might as well have run him over with a train. But there’s only so much finger-pointing I can do…because…I hurt him too. She was supposed to love him, and didn’t, and that’s how she hurt him. I wasn’t supposed to love him, but I did, and that’s how I hurt him.
And then there’s the part of me that is jealous of the fact that she got to be with him for years and years and years, got to have his last name, got to really know him…all the things I wanted…and now, she doesn’t even care.
I looked at her again.
And in that moment I understood that I only know one side of the story. I know about her demons. I don’t know about what makes her happy, the things she shines at, how she is good toward the people in her life. I refuse to believe that she is any worse of a person than I am.
Because when it comes down to it, we are similar. We both fell in love with the same man. We both said we wanted to spend our lives with him. We both had parents that saw him as a threat and tried to put the brakes on the relationship. We both were given a choice as to whether or not we would choose him or our families. We chose differently.
So similar…and yet so different. We don’t even know each other and yet we are connected in a crucial, dramatically important way.
Life is such a crazy, coincidental mess, isn’t it?
The point of this…
The point of this is that you…yes YOU…know at least one person that brings all the bad memories back to slap you in the face. Like me…and her. All you have to do is see them, take one look into their eyes, and you are down for the count. They represent so much pain, so many memories, and so many thoughts that you can never even express. Maybe it’s an ex, an estranged family member, a runaway child, or a traitorous friend.
Just know…that you don’t have to be enslaved to how they make you feel. You don’t have to be afraid to go into a certain store or drive down a certain road just because they might happen to cross your path. This person has only so much power over you as you give them. They CANNOT make you break. They CANNOT make you burn. They CANNOT make you fail…unless you give them the power to do it.
By God’s grace, look them in the eyes, fight those demons, and say “no.” Know that you can fight. And you can win!!!
Im not saying your hands won’t shake and your heart won’t pound and you won’t feel the tears pushing against the back of your eyes. I’m not saying that you won’t remember anything, or that you won’t feel any pain. I sure did. But even with all these thoughts going around in my head, even while being in the same room with her for hours…by the grace of God…I looked my demons in the eye, stared them down, and kept on moving. I did not bow to them. I did not break. And I walked out at the end of my shift, on fire, because God had helped me to conquer.
It’s the first time since everything fell apart that I have had the strength to face up to the things that scare me the most. Her visit provided an opportunity….an opportunity to remind me of my weaknesses, to test my strengths, and to prove that God is faithful even over a past that still haunts me.
Today was a special day for me guys, and I’d love to hear about any similar experiences you’ve had. Seriously. They may be very much like mine, or very different, but we all have demons, we all have a person that epitomizes those demons, and we all have to fight that person’s appearance at some point. I hope that this post let you know that you’re not alone.
But for now…it’s 2am, time for bed. Goodnight, or good morning, wherever in the world you are.
See you tomorrow 🙂