It is possible to change your outlook and make amends, this is a story of how I did just that.
I wanted to hate her.
I wanted to take everything that she was that I couldn't embody and use it as logical reasoning to why she was the sole obstacle preventing my relationship from progressing. My then boyfriends' ex girlfriend lived states away, but through consistent emails, texts, and pictures she sent him, it felt as if she were living right next door. Her presence was a constant reminder every time the notification tone pinged on his mobile.
I REALLY wanted to hate her.
'Rockko' worked as a new cashier in the retail store where I handled produce. He was attractive, charming, and appeared adventurous with stories of travels overseas due to coming from a military family. We were able to share common ground and begin from this base as I to come from one myself. Rockko and I moved far too quickly in our relationship than we should have. Being a newly divorced single parent cast an unspeakable fear over me that I could no longer be choosy over partners, I'd be lucky that anyone would date me now.
Being cheated on and left for an ex or another woman was notorious behavior from the vast majority of guys I've been involved with. It was never something I had sought or hoped would happen, it just always seemed to result in that outcome. So within the first six months of dating, the standard 'Ex Talk' most people dread but have regardless, took place. Not one woman he spoke of was berated or slammed, all were poetically raved about for each of the memories they left with him. His favorite, I came to find out, was a young gal named Mica whom he proudly went on about having been a model. This was a prideful moment he regaled upon anyone who would listen while in my presence. He was so boastful that you would have believed HE had been the beauty queen himself.
At first his adoration was cute. How a man speaks of women in his past says a lot about him. If he's angry and blames all or most, it could be a red flag for anger issues. If he speaks so lovingly (and frequently), more than likely he's still carrying a hearty torch with her name on it. I would find out exactly where Rockko stood on the issue soon enough...
It was a Summer evening in July. We had stripped down for a late night swim in a lake down the road from my apartment complex after having ingested two bottles of wine between us. My recollection of how Mica came up in our conversation is blurry to me still to this day, but I will never forget those gut wrenching words. Slumped in a saddened posture, Rockko bellowed out in a cry, "Mica was The One I always saw myself getting married to." He had just been recently informed to her new engagement and he acted as if his entire world were now coming to a brutal end. Right then and there, I wanted to leave, and I should have, but he grabbed my arm and pleaded for me to stay. I asked if I had cause to worry about these feeling he had. If he was so adamant they they were meant to be together, why would he bother wasting time being with me? He did his best to convince me that things would be alright....but after four years of verbal abuse by being told how stupid and useless I was, physical abuse that on occasion led to body markings and blacking out, and endless times I contained evidence of him cheating with a handful of women, I kicked him out of my life for good.
Even in not really knowing Mica, the dust eventually settled after the storm and I felt my behavior and attitude towards HER being the problem was very immature and short-sided. She couldn't control the way that he felt about her. When someone is happy and committed to the one that they're with, nothing can sway their love. The only person we have any kind of power over is ourselves. It turned out that she followed my articles religiously and thoroughly enjoyed reading about my life. She related in some ways to pieces I wrote and felt a bond with me because of those experiences. Over time my anger toward her dissipated and my heart grew bigger, more susceptible to giving her the chance at being my friend rather than the role of foreign enemy that I had blindly cast upon her. Almost two years post breakup, and we eventually connected on Facebook. She inquired about myself, my daughter, and cautiously asked if on her upcoming trip to my state that we could meet face to face. Every fiber of my being had wanted this day to come as well, so I sent her my number and waited for her arrival.
My daughter and I drove to a local downtown pizza parlor expecting Mica mid afternoon. Within fifteen minutes of sitting, she walked up to the booth looking just as stunning as she does in all of the pictures I had accustomed to seeing over the years. Bundled up for our winter season in her fashionable coat and scarf, her snow white teeth beamed in a smile that ran from ear to ear as I stood and embraced her in a welcoming hug. She sat across from me and spoke about how nervous she was and how long she had been waiting for that very moment.
Why was she nervous? I've never seen myself as intimidating, or one of those women who have a barrage of sheep aimlessly following her around, smitten by immaculate beauty and perfection. If it made sense for anyone to have the jitters, it would be me.
From the moment she began speaking, I was in awe of her sincerity. It was surreal to hear how important and significant she saw me as in having changed Rockko for the better after leaving him. Mica told me that he had confessed every horrible thing that he had done to me but lied about for as long as I can remember. He felt ashamed for his inexcusable behavior and greatly missed my daughter very much as he brings her up all the time in talks they share together.
Isn't that how it always goes? Once we've taken a good thing for granted and it disappears, we long to have everything back the way it was before our ignorance got the better of us. There was long time relief and validation for how great I had been in our relationship in hearing that he had regrets. Even though the confession was being relayed through her instead of him, I felt like I had finally won the war I thought I would never get resolution from.
Mica held back tears as if I had saved a life, one that she proclaimed meant so much to her as he had been one of her best friends since they were teenagers. It isn't every day that one will get a genuine heartfelt form of gratitude, especially one that is sung from the mouth of a person you didn't believe you'd ever meet. It took almost six years for me to get beyond my paranoia and open my mind to the idea that she was as sweet as she appeared to be. Not every ex/woman is out to destroy another womans' relationship. While it may be a common staple in my dating history, I was lucky enough to have crossed paths with The Exception and made a wonderful friend out of the deal. I will always have a guard up when it comes to protecting myself from being hurt and losing the ones that I love, it's just in my nature to defend the life that I want and very well deserve. The thing about that logic though is, if it's meant to be mine, I don't need to sacrifice my sanity and self respect for it. A woman may come along and tempt my other half, but if he's worth keeping around, it will be my side he'll be choosing, not a short lived fling.
I'm thankful for what Mica did for me. She reaffirmed my faith, proving that there are those who have no secret agenda by wanting nothing more than to see the ones she once loved blazing down a new path of their own. She has been happily married for quite some time and a devoted supporter of my work. We even discussed my writing this piece so that I could share with others that even if a fantasy relationship may come to a grueling end, something wonderful could very well result from it. I may never be one hundred percent comfortable when it comes to exes of mine or the one that I'm with, but at least I have this one special experience that I can fondly embrace. As author Jodi Picoult quotes, "Some lessons can't be taught, they simply have to be learned."