Seeing your ex with another man is hard

Seeing your ex with another man is hard. It’s hard because you don’t know how to feel. You want to be happy, angry, enraged, and delighted. The smile on your face is deceiving; never before have Smokey Robinson’s words been more poignant.
Smokey Robinson & The Miracles – “Tears of a Clown”

I had just been out with a friend. We went to grab a sandwich and have a chat while we walked about. After I said goodbye to my buddy, I turned the corner and, across the street, saw her. I knew it was her because I’ve seen every side of her. I’ve seen her close up, naked, and vulnerable. I’ve also seen her from afar, clothed, and resolute.

Standing next to her, having a conversation with her, making her laugh and smile, was a man who I can only assume is new in her life.

My curiosity piqued, I picked up the pace to get ahead of them so I had a better view of her face when I looked across the street. I had to be sure it was her, even though I already knew it was. I saw her face, smiling and laughing. I saw his face, too, smiling and laughing, too.

When I called my buddy to tell him what I had just witnessed, the phone kept cutting out and I didn’t hear what I wanted to. My sister and father couldn’t say the right things, either, when I called to tell them what I saw but didn’t quite understand. Because I don’t know what I’m supposed to feel because I don’t know how I felt because I don’t know what the truth outside of my version of the story is, I won’t ever hear the right words to soften the thump of my beating heart.

We’re not together anymore because we weren’t able to make each other feel the way we each wanted to feel. I’m not the man she wants in her life. I know that she should be with someone who is a better fit for her. I know that she will find someone to be with. Yet, I don’t know how to make sense of it all. The sum of the parts is less than the whole. The gap that remains is my understanding of the situation.

If you fill a cup of water to the very top, stretching the surface tension around the lip of the cup, you can’t lift the cup to your lips to drink from it without spilling some of the water. There has to be some room between the top of the water and the top of the cup if you want to quench your thirst without wetting your shirt. The empty space is your safety.

And, that’s how it is. The cup that was our relationship has been filled, leaving only enough room for us to be able to lift it to our lips without spilling on ourselves. That gap, the empty space, keeps it all together. Now, too, we must find another cup to fill if we’re to keep drinking in life.

Maybe this is why another ex (married now) messaged me last night for the first time in years, after telling me to fuck-right-off, to apologise for how she treated me while we were dating. She also let me know that I’m an “innocent soul” who annoys her. She was angry with her husband because he told her that she is “sensitive”…she thought to message me?


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