Running into (and away from) your ex

I got divorced in January of 2010, walked out of the courtroom, hugged my ex husband one last time, got in my car and drove away and never saw him again. Welll, that’s not 100% true, because there was one time about seven years ago that I saw him in the food store and hid in the bread aisle until I could run out, but that had more to do with the fact that I looked like a slob and was in my pajamas, rather than not wanting to see him because by that point I could have cared less.

When M. and I broke up, I was still very emotionally invested in his health and his life, but I knew any interactions with him encouraged him and that was not fair to either of us. I did not want to give him false hope that we would get back together. Neighbors would tell me they saw his truck on our street by my house, so I knew he was around, but it seemed harmless. Strangely enough, we didn’t run into each other anywhere, even though we lived only a couple miles apart. However, I was very aware of my surroundings, sort of knowing that us running into each other was inevitable and mostly dreading it.

It finally did happen last December. I was coming out of the gym and he was going in. As with most things, it was not as bad as I thought. We chatted for a little bit. In retrospect, I am grateful for this happening because he died less than two months later. It was the last time I ever saw him.

My gym was closed for a long time because of covid, and then because of flooding from a terrible storm. It just recently reopened and I finally started going back. It was weird because I felt like I kept looking at the door, thinking he was going to walk in. I feel like that happens a lot. I see someone who looks like him from behind walking or I see the same color truck as his and I have to remind myself that he is gone. I will never have to think about running into him again. How strange life is…one of the things I used to worry about is now something I wish could happen.

My boyfriend (also an M. name so I need to find an abbreviation for him….maybe Dr?) has an ex wife with whom he coparents, so she is very involved in his life. Luckily, she and I get along well, minimal problems and she is accepting of my relationship with the kids. But it is weird to me to be with someone who has baggage who is still present. Like they text about the kids and see each other multiple times a week. I can’t imagine what that is like because I have literally ZERO interaction with an ex at all.

It is like you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t. I never wanted to run into M. until he passed away and now I wish I could run into him, to see him one more time. As far as my ex husband, I hope he found a new food store really far away…preferably another state! 😉

Love hard

I think I love my boyfriend too much. I have never felt like this before. I am like a teenager who has a major crush. Sometimes I just find myself just staring at him and I always want to touch him. It is sweet, but it also makes me uncomfortable. It makes me feel vulnerable and it is hard to think about how much it would hurt to lose him.

When I was in college, I dated a guy for a couple of years. He treated me really well, but his family was also very supportive of me during a time when my own family was incredibly dysfunctional. When he ended our relationship, I was completely heartbroken. He made a fleeting comment that has stuck with me, even 20 years later. He said something about me putting him on too much of a pedestal and how it put so much pressure on him. He was a great boyfriend, especially considering our ages at the time, but I think I allowed myself to depend on him too much. I became needy, which is never a very attractive quality to have.

I am very independent. Before meeting my current boyfriend, I was fine being single. I have never really been someone who needed to be in a relationship. In fact, after my divorce and after my other long term relationship ended, I wanted that time to myself, to focus on myself.

I think part of the issue is that I really just think my boyfriend is amazing. He is the sweetest, kindest, hardest working, most responsible man I have ever been with. It’s a good problem to have. But…it still feels like a problem. I am always waiting for the other shoe to drop. It is like I need to pinch myself that this is real- that this is really the relationship I am in. I dealt with so much drama and pain in the past and it is still hard to believe that a relationship can be so healthy and good and easy and drama-free. We have only gotten into a couple of disagreements and neither manifested into a fights. That is very foreign to me, as my previous relationships were full of conflict and arguments.

I have written before about my lack of self-worth. Obviously, I think that plays a role in this. There is a part of me that truly feels like I do not deserve someone as good as him. It is just crazy that I look at this man and feel what I feel. It isn’t just attraction. It isn’t the “newness” of it- we have been together for almost two years. I don’t know how else to explain it besides I just feel like I love him too much.

I read an article about the “dangers” of loving someone too much and I feel like I am pretty introspective (20+ years of therapy will do that!) and am honest with myself. I tried to see myself and our relationship in the examples, but none of it fit. I have good boundaries with him, am still very independent, and have a full social life outside of our relationship. Hs is with his children several days/nights a week and I keep very busy. I can see his flaws (look, even though he is wonderful, he still makes mistakes) and I don’t think he takes me for granted (this has been a problem I encountered in other relationships). I think the only one that stood out to me was that he might end up feeling smothered. Like I am going to be like that cartoon girl who picks up the cats and hugs them too hard and they hate her. I don’t want him to feel pressure that he is responsible for my happiness and well-being because he is not. I say I can’t imagine how I would survive losing him, but the realistic part of me knows that I would because I have gotten through very difficult times and lived to tell about it.

I think it is the vulnerability that scares me the most. Loving him makes me feel weak and out of control. My anxiety does not enjoy that feeling. The LAST thing I want or need is to be in another codependent relationship. I probably need to just stop analyzing things so much and actually just allow myself to he happy and enjoy being in such a great relationship.

Sixty seconds

Recently, I saw a post on Reddit that asked the question: if you could go back in time and had ONE MINUTE to give advice to your past self, what would you say?

I have to admit that I have spent way, way more than a minute thinking about this question. Part of me rejects doing this because I know everything I have gone through made me who I am today. But then I think, fuck that cliche…why not tell myself all the things that will help “past me” be able to avoid pain, heartbreak, rejection, loss, and negative experiences???

So, here is what I would tell my younger self in sixty seconds:

“Listen to your gut. When your gut is telling you to run, run. When it tells you, don’t marry him: DON’T. MARRY. HIM. Don’t lie to cover other people’s mistakes or behavior. You think that you are protecting them, but you are really just hiding the truth, from the world and yourself.

Don’t settle. EVER. Forget having to kiss frogs and all that dumb shit. Kiss the frogs for fun, but when it comes to relationships, don’t settle for less than you deserve. Please, please do not be with someone who drinks. Promise yourself this and then DO NOT BREAK that promise. You cannot save anyone who doesn’t want to be saved. Don’t ever put yourself in a situation where you put someone else’s needs above your own. Don’t lose yourself in someone else. And always, always have an exit strategy.

Be nice to everyone. It isn’t a weakness. You never know what someone else is going through. When you think to yourself that you should call or text someone to check on them or see if they are okay, don’t assume you will always have the time or chance to do it.

No one has a perfect family or perfect life. Make the best of what you have. If you focus all your energy on the bad things, you will miss out on enjoying the good things. Forgive people, especially your dad, who don’t deserve it, even if they never apologized. Try to be the bigger person as often as possible.” *

*Okay, I literally timed myself reading that aloud. And I did not go back and edit it because I wanted it to be as authentic as possible. At first, this seemed really easy to do, but it much more difficult than I thought it would be, because how do you sum up twenty years of advice and lessons learned into one little minute? It is an impossible task. And really, how much do young people really listen to anyway? Lol! I teach 11th grade (so mostly kids that are 16 and 17 years old) and as much as I would like to think they hang on my pearls of wisdom, I know that they will have go out into the world and learn life lessons the hard way, just like all of us did- I guess that is a rite of passage. But really, why didn’t anyone stress to 16 year old me the importance of not settling…that would have been REALLY helpful 😉

Nice.

As an English teacher, I often stress to my students the importance of using creative words. Instead of the word “bad”, use “terrible”. Instead of the word “pretty”, use “gorgeous”. One of the biggest offenders when it comes to nondescript words is “nice”. The dictionary defines it as fine and satisfactory…not exactly the most flattering or sophisticated adjective.

I remember when I was in my 20s, I met a guy through a mutual friend. Afterwards, she asked him what he thought of me and his response was that he thought I was “nice”. I remember being offended by this and over analyzing it- “What does that MEAN…nice?!??” I thought it indicated that he wasn’t really interested in me. It felt like an insult.

I didn’t realize the significance of this simplistic, four letter word until I was 30. To put it bluntly, my ex husband was mean. After getting divorced, I remember saying to my sister that all I cared about when it came to meeting someone new was that they were nice. After experiencing my dad not being nice and my husband not being nice, that word took on a new, deeper meaning. I am very happy to say that my new boyfriend is truly nice. It took being with some unkind men for me to appreciate someone who is genuinely a good, kindhearted person.

I can honestly say that I am a nice person. I strive to be. I try to do things to make other people happy. I am thoughtful. It is kind of weird to write this because I feel like I am bragging (and trust me that I have many flaws). During the time my coworkers were teaching from home during quarantine, I mailed out 70 cards, just to say hi and keep in touch. I also sent congratulatory letters to the 120 graduating seniors who were my students from last year. This is one of the ways I know how to show love and appreciation.

Today, I gave my mailman a card and a $10 Dunkin Donuts gift card because tomorrow is National Postal Workers Day and clearly I love mail (who knew?!?!) My boyfriend was saw me do this and said, “you are SO nice. You’re the nicest person I have ever known.” I just smiled and accepted it for the lovely compliment it was. There are far more creative and glamorous synonyms that can be used, but I now understand the simple beauty of being nice.

Hostess with the…leastest

I had a weird epiphany today while on the phone with my best friend. We were talking about when I was going to open my pool and she mentioned how I never invite anyone over to swim…or really ever. To be honest, I do not really like entertaining or hosting gatherings, but I never really thought about why. I said to her (really nonchalantly) that when living with my father and then my exhusband and exboyfriend, I usually felt uncomfortable having people over. She was quiet for a while and then said, “that totally makes sense now, I never thought about it” and I was like, “oh my god, I never made the connection either!”

I infrequently had friends over to my house when I was a teenager. It was pretty safe to assume my father would be drunk and would either embarrass me or would act horribly. I grew up under the unwritten law of “don’t let people know what is going on inside our house”, which is obeyed diligently by most children of alcoholics. Having an “outsider” at my house was not a comfortable feeling.

Once I got married and bought a house with my exhusband, we did entertain a bit at first. However, as our relationship deteriorated, I became very nervous about having people over. Keeping up the facade of a happy marriage was exhausting. He would sometimes fly off the handle at the slightest comment I made or would ignore my family members. One time we went to the food store to buy appetizers for a party. He loaded up the cart with a literal armful of different cheeses. I made an innocuous comment about whether we needed so many cheese options. He left the cart, and me, at the store and canceled the party. Needless to say, I was never very eager to have company over.

Most recently, my exboyfriend lived with me. We dated for nine years and he lived with me in my house for the last five years. He was not outright rude to anyone, but he was often detached when my family would come over- constantly looking at his phone or disappearing for an hour. Over the years, his depression and alcoholism had a very negative impact on our social life. I never could predict when he was going to stay in bed for an entire weekend or when he would drink to excess or when he would be normal and friendly. I did not realize at the time that I was hiding his issues from people, “covering” for him with excuses about him being tired from work, etc. I never wanted to plan anything at the house because I did not know which version of him would be attending.

Now that I have lived alone for the past year, I relish my quiet, calm house. Often when I am at a party with a lot of people and chaos, I get overwhelmed. When I am at a friend’s house who has children, I feel relieved to come back home to just my two cats. I don’t think that I was comfortable in many of my past living situations, so I am very protective and territorial of my “safe space”.

I am quite social and I do love spending time with my friends, but I prefer to do it at their homes or a restaurant. I have so much appreciation for consistency and predictability and security and tranquility when it comes to my home. I did not have those things for the majority of my life and they have become things I will not ever jeopardize again…not for all the cheese in the world!

20 Questions

1. Do you have any regrets?

Not seeing each of my grandparents one more time before they each passed away. My travel anxiety held me back from visit them and I will always wish I had one final chance to see them.

2. How would you like to be remembered?

As being kind, thoughtful, caring and funny. A good sister, daughter, aunt and friend. An inspiring teacher.

3. Have you ever broken a promise to someone?

Yes, myself. I swore to myself that I would never date or marry an alcoholic because of my father. I feel like a cliche that I did, but I am also relieved that I broke the cycle.

4. Was there one event that changed your life and the way you think?

When I was in elementary school, I saw a documentary on children in third world countries, specifically Ethiopia. I had never seen images like that before and I remember being shocked that there were kids starving in the world. It taught me to appreciate the life I had and I have thought of it often.

5. Would you sacrifice everything for love?

No. I have learned the hard way (twice) that love is not enough.

6. Are you afraid of dying?

I rarely think about dying myself; rather I fear losing someone that I love. Now that my parents are older, I am afraid of my mother dying more than anything.

7. Have you ever been abused?

Yes. My father was/is physically, emotionally, verbally and psychologically abusive. He is still very verbally abusive, but I think the psychological abuse affected me the most, even more so than anything physical.

8. Have you ever been in love?

Yes, I would say three times. In college, I had my “first love”- where you love so naively and hopelessly. I loved my ex husband and I love (present tense) my ex boyfriend. With both my husband and boyfriend, it wasn’t because of not loving them that the relationships ended, hence my answer to #5. I think the true love of my life/soul mate is my ex boyfriend, but there are very logical reasons we are not together.

9. Are you happy with who you are?

Yes. I definitely have my flaws, but I think I am a good person. I care about other people and always try to do what I think is right.

10. Would you ever give up your life to save someone else’s?

Yes, definitely my sister or my niece…without even a second thought.

11. Have you changed at all in the last year?

This last year has been life changing. I experienced my boyfriend being in a coma…I don’t think I will ever be the same. He was so close to death. I am so, so grateful he survived, but I lost him anyway.

12. What is something most people don’t know about you?

That I suffer from agoraphobia and at one point years ago it was so bad that I didn’t even want to leave the house to check the mail or go to the grocery store. I just recently told someone about this and they didn’t believe me. I guess that’s a weird compliment in a way.

13. Do you like being alone?

I really do. I need time to decompress and just think. Sometimes I just lay on the couch without turning on the tv, just to be in silence.

14. Is there something you would never do?

Get married again. I felt very trapped. I definitely did not grow up with a good role model of what marriage should be and I stayed with my ex husband far longer than I should have simply because I felt like I had to try everything to make it work because we were married. I want to be with someone by complete choice and I want the ability to walk away if it isn’t the right relationship for me or if the person changes.

15. What makes you uncomfortable?

Confrontation. Although I have gotten much better at standing up for myself lately. I felt like I had to be an advocate for both myself and my ex boyfriend through his illness and it severed the relationship I had with his friends and family.

16. What is the meanest thing anyone has ever said to you?

My dad says so many mean things pretty much daily, but excluding him, after I got divorced, my ex husband wrote me an email saying he was sorry he couldn’t “fix me”.

17. What is the nicest thing anyone has ever said to you?

I can’t pick just one thing because any time I get a compliment from a student or they tell me I inspired them in some way, it is the best feeling. Recently, a student wrote me a letter saying that through my actions, I taught her how to be a stronger person and that meant a lot to me.

18. What is your prized possession?

A green diamond ring from my maternal grandmother. My sister and I used to try on all of my mama’s jewelry and we each had a favorite ring of hers. It was a joke in our family that she would leave them to us in her will. During one visit, my sister and I were parading around with our rings on and when we went to give them back to her, she handed us the empty boxes and said she wanted us to keep the rings so we would have the memory of her giving them to us, rather than it being a sad time when we inherited them. That is also one of my favorite memories.

19. What is something weird or unusual that you do?

Every year when I decorate my Christmas tree, I watch the movie, “The Wolf of Wall Street”. I have no idea why there is a connection, but it has become a weird tradition. I love that movie 🤷🏼‍♀️

20. What is your favorite quote?

“Education is not preparation for life; Education is life itself.” -John Dewey

Uncomfortable much?

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One topic I hate to address is how inappropriate my father can be when it comes to issues related to sex.  In his emails, he will bring up how he and my mother are not intimate.  This is hardly a surprise considering he is drunk almost every day and he and my mom have had separate bedrooms for years.  My sister and I will sometimes tease my mom about this and she gets visibly grossed out.  As a woman, I can completely understand why my mother is not attracted to my father- both physically and emotionally.  As their daughter, I want to think about their sex life about as much as any one else would want to think about their parents having sex…AKA: NEVER.

My father, however, crossed the line recently.  Instead of a casual mention of my mother “not being a wife” (which is the euphemism he usually writes), he went into great detail about his libido, watching online porn, my mother refusing to have sex, him wanting to get Viagra and having erections during the night.  This was all in an email he sent…to his two daughters.  My sister and I were both completely disgusted and called my mother to tell her (she was horrified, of course).  She obviously yelled about my father about being so offensively inappropriate because we received an “apology” email the next day.  He seemed confused as to why my sister and I were so upset and stated that he would have thought that as his children, we would wanted to know about any medical issues he has.  Clearly if my father has a disease that affected his private parts or anything like that, we would be sympathetic, but being a horny old man is not a medical condition last time I checked.  What is almost worse than my father sending the email was his really not thinking that it was inappropriate.

When my sister and me (and my boyfriend) first read the email, we all kind of laughed it off, then got understandably grossed out.  It was only after an hour or two that my boyfriend and I talked about it in more detail and I realized how upset I was by it.  I have a lot of memories, some clear, some blurry, about my father saying and doing inappropriate things when I was younger.  One example that stands out is when I was a teenager and went to the mall with my friends.  I got home with a bunch of shopping bags from various stores, one of which was Victoria’s Secret.  My father insisted that I show him what I bought.  It didn’t come off like “I’m concerned that you bought age-inappropriate underwear so let your mom see and decide” kind of thing…it was creepy.  My dad was always a butt-pincher (like when we walked by him or stood in front of the open fridge), he made a lot of comments about my body (like calling me “thunder thighs”), he made funny, but sexual, jokes about waitresses and actresses on TV (“look at the boobs on her!”).  When he was drunk (which was most nights during my teenage years), my mother would ask my sister or me to go tell my dad dinner was ready.  He would slur that my mother had to put on a skirt, pantyhose and high heels or he wasn’t coming to eat.  He would lay out sexy lingerie on my mom’s side of the bed during the day (not exactly a subtle hint).  All of this is just to prove that my father has always been a bit perverted and there have been many times in my life that he has made me uncomfortable.

It is sometimes hard to reconcile all the different aspects of my dad.  I feel like if he read this, he would be genuinely appalled that I think these things about him.  During the two year period he was sober, my mother explained to him all the abuse that she and my sister and I suffered from over the years by him and he was flabbergasted.  I mean, unless my dad has Academy Award winning acting skills (doubtful) or is a complete sociopath (possible?), he truly did not believe he was capable of doing the things she told him he did.  If he was sober, I know he would not be saying the things he is about sex to my sister and me, especially not in the blunt, very descriptive way he did.  But him being drunk as an excuse is getting really old.

Should she stay or should she go…

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One of the most difficult questions that I have been asked in my life is “why does your mom stay with your father?”.  I wish I knew (and I wish I had $1 for every time someone has asked me!)  I will never minimize how hard it is to leave a marriage…I am divorced myself and it was the most difficult experience I have ever had to go through.  I also did not have children, which can theoretically be a reason why someone might stay or leave a marriage. I have never believed a couple should stay married “for the kids” because I know my sister and I would have been much better off if my mother had left and we had not been exposed to the terrible things my father did.

On the phone with my mother last week, she was particularly upset with my father.  She was venting to me, which she rarely does, and said something along the lines of “I should have left him years ago.  I have had every reason in the book to leave him!”  I let her vent, but also reminded her that she actually had a reason to leave him even BEFORE he started drinking and being abusive, which is that he had an affair when they were first married.  She then confessed to me that my father had three affairs over the course of their marriage and that one of them was with a “mutual friend” of theirs.  I was floored!  I was not surprised when my mother confided in me a couple of years ago about my father’s initial affair.  By the time I found out it was almost 30 years after the fact and my dad had committed much more egregious acts against my mother than sleeping with a babysitter.  When I found out that he committed adultery several times, it brought me back to that age-old question of why she never left him.  I know that she cannot even answer that question with a satisfying response, but it does make me feel both sad for her, disgusted by her choices and a little impressed with her.  Sad because I always believed the breakdown of my parents’ marriage happened because of my dad’s alcoholism, when clearly there were major problems before that.  I always thought we had a “perfect family” when I was little and that it only changed when he started drinking.  I am sad for my mother that she has suffered so long because of my father.  I feel disgusted by her choice to stay with him because I know she deserves better than how she has been treated and that she allowed him to treat my sister and me the way he did.  However, there is a part of me that is impressed with my mother and her stoicism.  I know that sounds contradictory and it is- in some respects I feel like my mother is SO weak and in other regards she is SO strong.  She has a superhumanly high pain tolerance (which I did not inherit!).  She is almost 70 years old and still mows over an acre of lawn because it is “fun”.  She has rescued more stray and injured animals than anyone else I know…from birds to cats to turtles.  She lost both her parents within a one month period and at the same time still supported me through my divorce.

I can go on and on about all the wonderful traits about my mother, as well as some of her flaws, but if you gave me the rest of my life to do it in, I would still never be able to explain why she has never left my father.

Comfortably Numb

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I was showing my 11th grade students samples of a project in class today.  One of the samples was one that I made years ago, which included photographs of my ex-husband.  I have not assigned this project in years and I had forgotten that the sample included pictures from my “former life”.  My one female student, who is lovely and very inquisitive, asked me innocently if seeing the photo from my wedding “bothered me”.  I always try to be appropriately honest with my teenage students, so I answered her truthfully that seeing the photo did not really affect me anymore…that at one time it would have made me sad, but now that years have passed since my divorce, it feels like a lifetime ago.

It made me realize how far I have come since that time.  I got divorced in 2010 and during the process I was a complete mess.  That is no exaggeration.  I cried every single day…for like a year.  It did not help that I also lost both of my grandparents, my two favorite people, at the same time.  I thought I hid it reasonably well at school during that time, but when I run into students I had that year, they always tell me how worried they were about me (I remember getting quite a few really thoughtful cards that year from kids).  I remember people telling me then that I would get through it and that someday I wouldn’t care anymore or even get upset.  I thought that was literally impossible.  I really felt like I would NEVER get over my divorce.  But those people were right and now it is such an afterthought in my life.  I never think about it- or my ex-husband- at all, unless it is in a very specific context.  It is funny how your life can be SO affected by something or someone and then one day you realize that it has been hours…days…weeks…months since you cried or even thought about it or them.

I kind of feel the same way about my father.  He is still a big part of my life and he had such a negative impact on my childhood and teenage years, yet I really try not to think about the things that happened that much or what is going on now.  I think over the years, I found a way to compartmentalize everything that happened with my family.  I mean, at some point, I just had to find a way to not obsess about it or it would have literally drove me crazy.  I haven’t seen my father since Christmas- for over six months.  Part of me finds that really weird and part of me doesn’t care.  I am so disappointed in him for starting to drink again that I had to find a way to separate myself from him.  Whenever I start to think about it, I try to just *snapping my fingers* STOP.  I do go to therapy, so it is not like I am naively ignoring my problems; I just simply know that I cannot let it affect my everyday life, which is often easier said than done.  I know in AA, one of the mantras is to “let go and let God”.  I am not religious, but I think that is sort of my mentality when it comes to my dad right now.  I tried for so long to control him, my family, my life, everything…and ironically, the more I tried to control, the more out of control I felt. There’s just no point in worrying about things I cannot do anything about.  If worrying and caring and crying could have saved my marriage, I wouldn’t be divorced.  If worrying and caring and crying could make my dad stop drinking, he would be sober.  I have wasted a lot of tears on people who didn’t deserve them.

Seeing signs

  
It finally happened…I saw my exhusband for the first time in over six years. The last day I saw him was when we walked out of the courthouse together after signing divorce papers. I remember standing in parking lot and hugging him one last time, still in disbelief that it was really over. I remember feeling so much relief but also overpowering sadness- I still loved him then, but knew our marriage was over. 

I knew he still lived in the area- a few towns away. For the first year or two I kept waiting to run into him. I had a couple close calls when I saw his brother. I knew he got remarried (after annulling our marriage which is another story…but even that required no communication between us). It was like I spent almost eight years of my life with this person and then- poof!- he just disappeared. We did not keep in touch with each other’s families, we had no children or even mutual friends. It was truly a clean break, which was a blessing because it made it much easier for me to move forward. 

On Sunday, my boyfriend and I ran into our local food store and as I casually glanced down an aisle, I saw him. He never looked up and did not see me. I told my boyfriend and we left the store quickly after- I desperately did not want him to see me. As far as running into an ex goes, I was pretty lucky. He looked the same. I saw him leave the store with a woman I assume is his wife. To be honest, he rarely crosses my mind and as years passed I could no longer close my eyes and picture his face anymore. 

Afterwards, I felt a little shaken up by the sighting. I thought a lot about it throughout the night and could not put my finger on what I really felt. Luckily, my boyfriend was understanding about my reaction- he was previously engaged and said he wouldn’t want to run into his ex either. I kept thinking it was a “sign”- my boyfriend and I had a pretty big argument over the weekend and had just made up right before going to the store. I guess I was wondering if seeing my ex was a sign that my current relationship was failing. I’m not a huge believer in the idea of signs, but I also felt like the timing was very ironic. I have been feeling a bit insecure in my relationship and a little unsure about if my boyfriend and I are moving in the right direction…and then I run into my exhusband?

But then it struck me- I remembered that Sunday was also my parents’ 45th wedding anniversary.  My parents have been very unhappily married for years and years due to my father being extremely verbally and emotionally abusive. I realized that I was interpreting the situation incorrectly- seeing my exhusband wasn’t a sign relating to my boyfriend (who is a great guy…we have issues but I know we will work things out), but it was a sign that I did the right thing by leaving him six years ago. My exhusband was cruel to me for a long time, but ultimately I was able to do what my mother has never done: leave him.  Seeing him was a reminder that I made the decisions in my past and went through such a traumatic experience for a reason.  After so many years, the pain from my divorce has ceased and the bad (and good) memories from our marriage have faded, but I never want to truly forget the lessons I learned from my marriage and divorce. Going through it taught me to be strong and independent and to not let someone treat me poorly. Seeing him was a good reminder of how far I have come…but I’m more than happy to go another six years before I see him again!