“I walk alone through sleet and snow and pouring rain to get my heart broken, forever ever lost inside of. I walk along to slip and fall on strong reactions. Keep my heart broken, never ever amend myself. That’s alright and that’s ok.” ~Pegboy, Strong Reaction
Prior to my leaving Chicago, I did my best to make the rounds and say goodbye to everyone I possibly could. I was pretty successful. So successful in fact, I got to see people I didn’t want to see. People I mentally and emotionally said goodbye to many months ago simply because it was too painful and toxic to mentally hang onto the relationship or think there was a friend future. Specifically, my ex husband…with his new wife in tow. (If you haven’t been following along my story line so far, I’ll give you some relationship math. We were together for a decade. We’ve been divorced for about 18 months. He is married again. I am very single. Good? Good.)
Much like my run-in with them months ago at Nada Surf, life made sure the last time I ever saw him was memorable. At least I hope this was the last time. It went like this:
A good buddy of mine also happens to be moving from Chicago. He was a mutual friend of my ex and I, so there was a solid chance I would run into him at my buddy’s going away party. I was hoping he wouldn’t show, but I always hope that. The party was going on long enough that I thought I was in the clear. I wasn’t. I was standing at the bar talking to a friend when all of a sudden three of my girlfriends were surrounding me in some protective huddle. (I know. How rad are they?) At first I thought, oh man! My gals are making sure they get every last second of hanging with me while I still live here. Then, slowly I turned following their gaze…oh…fudge. My ex had walked in, they saw him first and were surrounding me since this was the first time I would be seeing him as a newly married man to someone that is not me. I made eye contact with him, and I know my face did a disappointed eye roll while my head sunk and looked away. Part of my charm is not being able to hide that I am annoyed or disappointed. I stayed where I was while my girlfriends kept me in a lady huddle. I will never forget their efforts to make sure I was ok.
The huddle slowly dispersed as I insisted I was ok. I was ok. That was no lie. I felt calm, and I felt nothing. No sadness. No anger. Just awkward from knowing people were staring at me to see if I was going to have some sort of strong reaction to this bizarre situation we were in.
It was 20 minutes or so before there was any interaction. I was in a conversation when I felt a pat on the back of my left shoulder while someone said, “Hey! What’s up?” The pat was to my left, but the voice came from the right. I looked right and saw it was him. He didn’t stop walking as he did this, so I only muttered, “Hey.” Any more words and I would have been talking to air. My poor friend just stood there like a deer in headlights not knowing what to say or do. For the next hour they stayed on one side of the bar, and I kept my distance minding my own business with my friends. What else was I supposed to do?
I will say this. I have separated and closed myself off so much from him that it was strange watching my good friends interact with them for the first time. It was like watching this secret life that had been building on the nights and weekends we weren’t together. Except not really a secret because I know they’re friends. I just can’t find a better way to describe the feeling. It was strange at first, but I expected that. It was out of my mind after about five minutes. No big deal. Back to the main event…
At one point I was standing at the table by the exit with two of my girlfriends. Rookie mistake. This was the moment they decided to leave. Walking away meant walking towards them so I just stayed put hoping they’d breeze by but no. My two friends were mutual friends so of course he was going to say goodbye. As he was walking towards us one friend asked, “Is this awkward?” My response? “Yeah it’s fucking awkward!” My timing was impeccable because this was right as he stepped to hug said friend goodbye. His wife hugged my other friend then stepped back. My ex walked around towards me. I just stood there because I had no clue what to do with myself other than keep my hands wrapped real tight around my pint glass. There was another awkward back pat followed by a, “Well, take care.” I said, “Bye.” Then he looked at me for a moment and inhaled. Then nothing. Now I could be reading into this. It wouldn’t be the first time. He either wanted to say something and didn’t, or he just didn’t know what to do with himself. Either way it doesn’t matter. He turned to leave except turned the wrong way and ended up doing a full 360 turn to face the right way and exit. He walked out with his wife. It was entertaining and awkward. I felt relieved. I hope that was our last encounter because anything else would have made me bummed out, and I don’t want to feel that way. I’d rather my last time with him be him turning in an uncomfortable circle and walking away. That pretty much sums up the marriage, so it was perfect.
Now, I will say this. He could have said nothing to me all night and not acknowledged my presence. I would have been ok with that. It certainly was my plan. While super awkward, he did make an effort to be cordial. I had no intentions of speaking to him unless spoken to for a few reasons:
- He was there with his WIFE. It didn’t seem appropriate. I pictured myself walking over and saying hello to him in front of her, and it wasn’t a happy picture for anyone. No thanks.
- I was two weeks away from moving. It makes no difference to either of us if I made an effort to communicate or learn how to coexist at mutual friends parties because I won’t be around. I didn’t see the point. Right or wrong that’s how I felt.
- I just don’t care. I can’t pretend like I’m happy for him and his new life. I’m not, not happy. I don’t wish anything bad for him or have any ill will. I just don’t care. It has zero effect on me. Our marriage and the aftermath of its demise put me through an emotional and financial ringer. I don’t feel like inserting myself into that anymore. I will be cordial if I ever see him and say hi back and what not, but I don’t need to play catch up on each other’s lives. He is making his new life choices, and I’m making mine. As we should.
I’m not sure why life had to toss that last zinger in before I left. She threw in several last minute reminders and lessons in the weeks before I moved. Those are for another story. In terms of the ex husband saga, I can physically stop watching that unfold. The credits are rolling.