So far this year, I am breaking through into a new me. I am trying new things that I wouldn’t have done in the past. I am becoming more brave and adventurous in expressing myself and taking chances in relationships. I am breaking down walls of fear previously stunting personal growth, thus moving through my ‘rut.’
Recently, I met my current boyfriend’s ex-wife. They are still friends. I have never stayed friends with an ex before, and most of my friends haven’t either, so I really have no idea what that is like. And honestly, I don’t care to know (not at least at this point in my life). Last weekend the ex had a party to which we were both invited. I wasn’t thrilled. About two months ago, I had vowed never to meet her. But obviously that changed.
What changed, I wondered? Well, a few things. One thing was that my partner and I communicated—I told him my concerns and fears (of him seeing her and wanting to get back together, or something ridiculous like that). Rationally, I knew they wouldn’t be getting back together: she is set to be married this summer and my partner is completely committed to me. But for some reason, meeting her was scary for me. I realized that if I met her, then she would become a real person and not just “the ex.” I didn’t want her to be real—I was living in the fantasy that my partner had never been with anyone else but me.
As time moved on, I became more understanding and comfortable with their previous relationship, and the fact, that indeed, I didn’t have anything to worry about. I kept reminding myself that there was a reason their marriage failed—it was fatal, finite, over! The more I learned about her through other people and though him and his family, the more I realized that she is a sweet and generous person; why else would my ex marry her, after all.
Time heals, as I know from my past, and time helped me in accepting the previous woman as a part of my partner’s history. Plus, I remembered that I was engaged to be married to my ex, so I couldn’t really expect my current partner (especially at our age) to have lived a life of celibacy.
So now, let’s go back to the party with the ex. I honestly felt okay driving to her home, but the minute I parked the car, I started having a panic attack-just a mild one, though. I calmed myself by reminding myself that I was there with my partner, who is completely supportive and loving and that I had nothing to worry about. I was also mentally prepared for any discussions about their relationship; you know, the ones about memories or their old friends or trips they took while they were married. My plan was to stay calm and not react.
I was proud of myself. I remained calm and friendly and polite, even during their discussion of their past, as well as her discussing my partner’s bad habits. I tried not to engage in that conversation—I didn’t want to disrespect my partner by participating in pointless banter. We all have issues, right? Who wants to be reminded of them? So overall, I think things went better than expected. I acted according to my plan: I settled my fears with my partner through communication, I planned my responses to potentially dangerous questions and practiced not ‘reacting’ to any comments, and I was just myself. I was friendly and warm and helpful and tried not to worry about impressing anyone. After all, I already impressed the most important person—myself!
Ilwadians: what are some of the changes you have made this year that you are especially proud of? I can’t wait to hear all the good stories?