Two days ago, I ran into an ex-girlfriend's cousin where I work. Small world. Yesterday, the ex called me at work for what turned out to be a very awkward 15 minutes conversation. Those 15 minutes felt more like 15 hours. It seems that her cousin had informed her of my current location. I've not seen nor spoken to her in 5 years; but the turbulent emotions stirred by the sound of her voice were as fresh as the day those wounds were torn deep into my heart.
6 years ago, when we first met, it was nothing but total reckless bliss those first few months. She seemed so adventurous, always doing things to stand out, and I blindly followed. There was something irresistibly attractive about a daring woman, seemingly spontaneous and unafraid of the consequences. It was just so exciting to be with her, and I truly believed that we were happy. Life seemed so fantastic those first few months, everything so new and fun.
Six months later, I started to get an uneasy sense of where our relationship was going. It seemed the more I learned about the mystery of this woman, the more I felt like I did not know her at all. What I mistook for adventure and spunk was a desperate need for attention. She wanted to be an actress, and that should've been my first clue as to who she really was. I started to notice that she craved constant praise, even when she did nothing. When she did not get what she wanted, she would throw tantrums or whine endlessly, wallowing in self pity, complaining to anyone within an earshot of how unfair she was being treated. I found myself starting to give her the cold shoulder, avoiding going out to places with her, which only made her mad and lash out.
I found myself somewhat confused and upset at her actions. When things were great for me at work or I accomplished a goal, she never acknowledged my success. Often, she would use my good news as an opportunity to make the conversation all about her problems, and somehow, she would drop little condescending remarks about how pedestrian my work was; her life, she would declare, was somehow more fabulous than mine. Never mind the fact that she had moved in with me because she was evicted from her apt and I was the only source of income between the two of us.
Things only got worse. She started criticizing my friends. She was particularly rude to my female friends, who I've known far longer than she. We started arguing, as I had given up trying to talk sense with her. I was tired of always apologizing for her mistakes, for being the only one compromising while she just took and took everything I offered. As I hated arguing, I would often walk out of the apt and stay away til I cooled off. Several times, I would return to find the apt in shambles. She would've broken dishes, tipped over furniture, and somehow managed to cut herself. Like a fool, I would try to make things up, falling into her damsel in distress trap over and over until things came to a head.
The final straw was when we had our last big fight. I was going to my friend's birthday, solo, as my ex did not want to go. She pleaded for me to stay, but I said, no. This friend is one I've known since grade school, and I would not miss her birthday just because my ex did not like her. I came home in good spirits after a great party, but that feeling quickly left when I got home. The apt was in terrible shape, holes bashed in the walls, posters torn down, furniture ripped. What made me angry was that she had gone through my personal foto albums and torn out the faces of my friends from the pictures. She wasn't home, and I'm glad she wasn't. In fact, she didn't come back for three days. By then, I had packed my stuff, cleaned up the apt as much as I could, gave notice of my month to month lease, and moved out.
Later that week, I heard from friends that she was arrested when she tried to break into our former apt. She didn't know that I had moved out and the locks had been changed. Then I heard she took off with another actor from her class and went out to California to make it big. That was the last I heard of her. I spent some months drowning myself in work to forget her and the mess of a relationship we had. Now, here she was on the other end of the line. I wanted to hang up, but my hand was frozen, holding that telephone receiver tight. Small talk and fake pleasantries about the weather and howdy do faded in the first ten minutes.
The last five minutes, was an uncomfortable silence that ended when she remarked, "We were good together, what happened?".
I hesitated, but finally, I replied, "Things just weren't meant to be."
She was quiet, then asked, "Maybe we can be friends?"
I heard the pleading in her voice, and the feeling of utter disgust overwhelmed me, reminding me of how much I hated her pleas, and I answered, "No, I don't think that would work for me. I don't think I ever want to hear from you again. I wish you the best," and I hung up.
Suddenly, this feeling of relief washed over me, and I finally realized why I was so upset at hearing her voice. I wasn't angry at her and what she had done; well, not really. I was angry at myself for putting up with such a horrible situation for a long time. I was angry at myself for being stupid, for being ignorant, and for fooling myself into thinking that I was in love, and whatever happened was my fault for not trying hard enough.
Later on, her cousin chatted with me during lunch, and revealed what had happened to my ex after she left for California. The actor she ran off with dumped her, and she started going out with another man, who not only did drugs with her, but would not tolerate her tantrums. More than once she was beaten, but by then, the need for drugs had consumed her. She was later arrested for prostitution and somehow, like other convicts, found Jesus (Why is Jesus always found in jail? Is he an inmate or a prison guard?). Apparently, she wound up in rehab and was putting her life back together.
I was not looking to forgive her; rather, I was just going to forget about her. I realized that, instead, I had to forgive myself for all the mistakes I've done. I'm only human after all; and I learned so much from that experience. Whatever happens now, I know that life goes on, and that we live and learn. Life is too short to be wasted on anger or sorrow, and every day I'm alive is an opportunity to live life to the fullest, doing the things that make me happy, thankful that I'm still here.