My ex-boyfriend was away last semester, studying at another university. I was aware of this before the semester began (not because I creep on my ex-boyfriend or anything…if it shows up on my Facebook news feed, though, it’s fair game). It would be a bit of an understatement to simply say I was relieved in not having to see him around at the tiny liberal arts school that we both go to. More accurately, in having this knowledge, I was over the moon.
Yeah, it’s kind of impossible to avoid people here.
To those of you who aren’t already aware, my past relationship with my ex-boyfriend was extraordinarily unhealthy; by the time we broke up, we were both broken and hurt in more ways than I would have thought possible when we initially started dating. I would see him around occasionally last year and always felt extremely uncomfortable when I did. I tried to avoid him when I did see him. Once or twice, he approached me to talk; if I was a bit more of an aggressive human being, I surely would have told him to get lost. Instead, I painfully stood there for the view minutes we conversed, wishing more than anything to be anywhere else.
So, he was elsewhere last semester, and I was so unbelievably glad that I didn’t have to worry about seeing him around. I just needed that guaranteed distance from him.
By the middle of last semester, I had honestly thought that all of my sore feelings toward him had dissipated over the summer and fall; I mean, I was interested in another guy and would have jumped at the opportunity to date him if he had shown any interest in dating me (which, he hadn’t). I had a wonderful and supportive group of friends, and I had overcome the worst anxiety of my life. I was feeling really, really good. Last semester was fantastic for me mentally (despite the stress and the lack of sleep); as far as I was concerned, the ex-boyfriend was so far off my radar. As far as I was concerned, he didn’t matter a wink to me anymore.
Yeah, ha, nope. Not the case.
Here in Morris, there’s a shady dive bar in town that sells cheap liquor; it provides music so loud you can barely hear yourself think and an accompanying dance floor where many, many heavily intoxicated individuals have danced their drunk little hearts out. Every Thursday, this bar has Quarter Taps from 9-10 pm, where the cheap liquor becomes even cheaper. It’s a big hit for the college students; particularly, the last QTs of the semester semester is always a big deal, with finals over and everyone free from the responsibility of school. I mean, what better way to celebrate a semester’s end than with cheap alcohol?
My friends and I had been planning to go to the last QTs of the semester for ages. I had turned in my last paper of the semester that morning and should have been feeling nothing but excitement at being done with my second-to-last semester of undergrad. Instead, I was feeling kind of anxious and my stomach wasn’t feeling well; I decided to still go out with my friends, regardless, because I didn’t want to miss the last QTs of Fall 2014.
He was pretty much the first person I saw when I entered the bar. The ex-boyfriend I mean. I was a little taken aback, because I was under the impression that he was still away from Morris. His semester obviously had gotten done earlier at the university he was studying at, though, because there he was. In all of his ex-boyfriend glory. Well, to be more accurate, there was nothing glorious about it.
Upon noticing him, I immediately felt ill. Granted, I already felt a little ill because of my anxiety and stomach ache combined, but seeing him actually made me feel nauseous. I was most certainly not expecting to have such an unpleasant response to seeing him in the flesh since, you know, I thought I was done with him completely.
It was only in that moment that I realized I wasn’t okay. I was so not okay. My time with him was coming back to me in flashes, which made me feel more ill. I very quickly realized that, while having him away was good for me in continuing to remove myself from him, it didn’t mean I was healed from all of the emotional strain that my relationship with him had put on me.
To make matters worse, I had meant to order a vodka collins, but for some reason I got confused (probably because I was preoccupied with seeing him) and accidentally ordered a vodka tonic, which I found to be quite disgusting. Regardless, the alcohol wasn’t helping with the nausea and I very quickly decided that I would only be drinking water for the rest of the night.
My friends and I didn’t stay super long–probably an hour at the most–before we decided to go back to my friend Paul’s apartment to hang out. I put my ex out of my head after that night and focused on enjoying break.
Today, though, I found myself worrying again–I went to the grocery store and thought I saw him (though now, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t him) and found myself feeling anxious. He was the last person I wanted to run into, well, anywhere. I went to work out at the gym today and couldn’t help but wonder, what if I run into him there?
I know we will run into each other at some point during the semester; the fact that we go to school on such a small campus makes that kind of inevitable. I really don’t want my anxiety over seeing my ex-boyfriend to ruin my semester, though. I know that seeing me probably makes him just as uncomfortable. I know that nothing terrible or life altering could possibly happen in running into him.
Yet, because of my past with him, the thought of seeing him makes me so anxious.
I will keep having to remind myself this semester that he is part of my past. I was a different person when I was with him; I am so much stronger now, so much more confident. It is okay to be anxious because of how terrible our relationship was in the end; however, I don’t want to let that anxiety overcome me and ruin my last semester here at college.
I don’t want that to ruin any fun to be had at any future Quarter Taps. We will be graduating together since we are in the same year, and I certainly don’t want that to ruin Commencement in May.
Healing takes time. It’s not always easy. But letting a stupid boy get in the way of making the most of my last semester at Morris? Hell no. Not gonna let that happen.
On that night at QTs, I told my friend Laura about the situation and she asked if it would help to talk to him about it. I fiercely rejected her suggestion. I mean, why would I want to talk to him about anything? Seeing him made me feel like I was regressing back into the person I was when I was with him; on that Thursday night, I reasoned that that alone made the idea of talking to him a terrible idea
But Laura gives good advice. And now, at 1:30 in the morning as I write this, I wonder…maybe talking to him would help me to heal. Doing so would be extraordinarily difficult for me, don’t get me wrong. I’d probably be an anxious mess through the whole conversation. But maybe it would work.
I hate this awkwardness, I hate how uncomfortable it is. I glanced over at him for a brief moment that night at QTs and got the sense that he was uncomfortable too. Maybe it would be good for both of us. Maybe that’s what he was trying to do when he tried to talk to me last year–I just wasn’t ready to talk back.
Sometimes the best way to handle a situation also happens to be the most uncomfortable way.
I want to be okay with him. I want bygones to be bygones. I want to be able to walk past him on campus without cringing inwardly. I went through a period where I hated him. But I don’t anymore. I just want both of us to move on. And if I read his body language correctly at QTs that Thursday night, I don’t think either of us have quite yet.
I certainly don’t want us to be friends. I just want us to be okay with each other.
I just realized that this is the first time since we broke up that I’ve wanted something good for him.