What I would do if I would see my cheating ex boyfriend in a grocery store
It’s been over 7 months since my ex and I have split.
About 2 weeks ago, I woke up a few days in a row in a rage that seemed unusual for my norm lately. A day or two into this massive uproar in my system - I came home from lunch with a friend that was totally lovely and I suddenly got violently sick.
I puked and shat and puked and shat, until the point where I was like, “How do I still have liquid in me?” I didn’t eat for nearly 48 hours - which is really unlike me- and then, two days after that I felt so much less anger - like I had been on an ayahuasca journey .
I literally questioned if I had gotten roofied at lunch with ayahuasca.
The entire time I was puking and honestly hugging the toilet, I felt like I was puking out my shock and my panic and my straight up… terror … from mid-September, when I found out my ex- finance was cheating on me.
This was following a cranial sacral session the night before in which I had seen all of the houses we were looking at to settle into together in LA last summer. I saw all of them in nauseating detail - I could remember the color of the cabinets, what we said to each other as we did walk throughs and again in the car afterward, what room was facing the street and which the yard. I could see it all. One by one. And when I thought the memories were finally over, that I’d remembered them all- another would pop up in my treatment as my practitioner moved my head and released the trauma. We must have seen 20 houses in a few weeks. Eventually, my mind went dark, the houses were done, and I almost fell asleep on the body work table.
When I found out that my happily ever after wasn’t going to happen, I didn’t have time to process any of it. In fact, I was in pretty intense shock. Simultaneously, there was a big level of peace for me when I found out because I finally knew what the massive anxiety I had been feeling was about - and the best part was that it was trying to tell me something. My body wasn’t broken. He had convinced me it was and I believed him. He was the broken one hiding and blaming me so he wouldn’t be found.
Because of this, there was a level of total peace for me when we had our break up conversations. I knew I wasn’t going to spend another second, dollar or piece of my heart with this person. It was over. For me, there was no staying. There was no being patient as he healed - plus he clearly said he didn’t want to heal with me or with anyone. He had lied to me and betrayed me and made me feel crazy and like I was the problem for far too long - when the entire time, he was a dark knight pretending to be a knight in shinning armor.
When I found out, I had to hustle to gather all the proof, speak to some of the women I had the numbers of to gain confirmation, and pack all my suitcases and my things in case it didn’t go well during confrontation, all while deciding if I wanted to leave that night or not, WHILE I managed keeping him outside of the house until my ducks were in a row with some lies my step mom coached me on on speaker phone - where she stayed for hours. I barely took a breath for 7 hours.
I found out at about 1 or 2 pm and by the time it was 8 or 9 pm, he was in front of me, crying, saying sorry.
And I was starting back, with a near blank face, with the questions I had to gain some understanding and get some closure.
I didn’t have the time to puke, shit, scream, yell… and most importantly… cry. Nor shake. Nor grieve.
I don’t think I cried much at all until I got back to Toronto a few days later. I remember shaking when I found out. Like I had been punched and felt completely gutted. Like someone had just told me my favorite person died in a sudden crash on impact, because in a way they did. When I called my dad and step- mom, I remember the sensation in my belly that felt like a cage of butterflies gone wrong. I remember feeling my throat so dry and my words so panicked - and like the room was spinning and the walls were moving closer to me, and I was too hot to breathe and it felt like someone was sitting on my chest and my back and front were drenched in sweat.
Obviously, I was having a panic attack. I remember throwing cold water in my face and staring at all our mutual belongings all over our apartment. Thinking who is this person? I knew he was selfish, but I never expected THIS.
And then: I shut down. And I got myself ready to face this tragedy.
It’s taken me months to process the things I felt in that first day, and in the following weeks. I’ve been through the rage pretty intensently. I would go to these women circles my best friend Desiree runs in the Barrie area last fall, and imagine smashing his head open between my legs as I would primal scream.
I imagined all the crazy healthy aggression s.e annihilation things you’re supposed to do when betrayed to discharge your stress.
I’ve found quiet stretches of beaches down here in California when it was raining in the winter, and I’d scream to the ocean, shake my body until I had no more energy, and I’d write FUCK YOU in the sand.
And I’ve also cried sobs that were so intense I collapsed on the floor with no one to rub my back many times, and I’d wait, there on the cold floor, until I had the will power to come back up and walk myself to bed. Wrapping my blanket around my eyes and hoping my eyes wouldn’t be so swollen in the morning.
I cried the first time I had sex with another person and felt like I was cheating. And I longed and longed and longed for him too. For him to come back.
I battled with letting go of the fantasy, and now, I’m at the point where I’m almost ready, nearly ready, I can feel it, to let him die for real to me.
I’m about to stop wanting to hold on to our mutual friends as mine so tightly, and I’m about to be over feeling dominance about places that I’ve energetically baptized mine and not his, and I am getting tired of writing about him.
I am getting ready to choose my peace instead of trying to make sure no one forgets about how awful he is. That doesn’t feel important to me anymore. He’ll never be able to erase doing this, and maybe, I’m not the one who has to remind him anymore.
And today, driving to the grocery, I had one of my usual thoughts come up, “What would I do if I saw him right now?”
It wouldn’t be entirely impossible. We don’t currently (as far as I know) live in the same city in California, but it wouldn’t be that bizarre for him to be in mine as he has friends here.
Sometimes, the thought, crosses my mind - what if he was there? What if he walked in where I was? What if he was at this party I’m going to?
The thought made me nauseous around the new year when I first moved here. Then for months after, my answer to that question was, “I would literally try to beat him up, so I better not see him.” I was serious too.
And now, over 4 months later, I feel differently.
For the first time today, I thought, if I saw him, I think I’d want to hug him.
I would run up to him and take his warm skin that I loved so much against mine, and intake the faint smell of laundry that wasn’t done well, because he left it in the laundry machine too long before switching it to the dryer, straight to my heart.
I’d say, “You know I’ve spent so many months hating you now. But I just can’t help but love you.”
I imagine, he would smile, confused, relieved, maybe even laughing, “This is so Emily!” he’d say.
Leave it to me to be cheated on for months before my marriage to him, only to see him in a grocery store months later and jump of joy to hug him and tell him how much I love him.
Em, you have the best heart of anyone ever. I remember him saying to me, all the time.
If I am honest, this is how my heart truly feels: my love for him may never stop. But my love for him isn’t in the present. I love who I loved then, and that love, it may never stop. It might dim or not take as much space in my heart as it once did as time goes on - this I know for sure. The love I have and had for that human is so big sometimes it scares me, and I wonder if I’ll ever find myself feeling so intensely toward another human ever again. But also, the more I allow him to die in the present, the more I stop wanting to punish him, and the more I realize our love is of the past, the more I feel available to new love. Better love. The kind of love my soul actually wants.
I realize that the hate I’ve had for him has also been all consuming and that also keeps me attached to him. There is a line in a song called BABE by sugar land that says, “because of you, I can’t love you.” And that’s exactly how I felt. And I’ve also listened to babe at least 500 times in the past half of year. Not joking.
You know, there is a part of me that understands exactly how he could of done what he did. He is an addict. I too, have been an addict. Of course, our addictions were different. Mine was to pharmaceuticals, while his was the flesh and approval and validation of as many women he could get sucking him off. But still: I get the impulse to satisfy your addiction - no matter what is at risk. When you’re an addict, you just want to feel in control again and for that you have to do the thing that propels you to find regulation in your system. It gives you safety to satisfy your addiction in the weirdest of ways. I genuinely get that his impulse must of felt so big and so uncontrollable, and this is why I forgive him. I know what it’s like to feel like you have to do something to keep surviving, even if it’s costing you the things you love the most, and the people you need the most. I think because I can understand on a personal bodily level how addiction feels and how it works and why it’s there, I have an easier time accepting what happened.
Him and I, although I hated to admit it, were pretty similar when we met each other. The difference was that through the 4 years we knew each other, I chose to heal and he did not.
And so back to my make believe part of the conversation where he asks me how I’ve been.
There we are, standing near the peaches, which are in season, in the produce section, somewhere we’ve spent hours in all over North America together. The produce section was our kingdom.
I say that I’m good. That I am finally moving here for good and that I’ve hired a super competent immigration attorney who says I’ll get a visa just because I’ve done so good with my business and trade in the USA for the past 5 years. I’ll be going back to Canada though, for a while, until that gets sorted out. I’m living with my friend Desiree - she is so safe and so good for me, and we are going to have the best time. I can hardly wait. I continue and I say that I’m happy I’ll finally get to live my dream of living here one day. One step at a time, I repeat a few times, maybe a bit nervous. Unsure how to stand. I have to learn to be patient and live in the moment, I offer while I laugh. He laughs too because we both know how good I am at that.
I see his eyes, both scared and relieved that I am doing so good without him.
I ask him how he is, and he tells me he’s okay. Mumbles some perks about work and tells me he’s doing real good in the gym.
We continue to stand there a while, wondering why we aren’t together, why we couldn’t make it work, both of our hearts shattering and oozing of love for one another at the same time. Each having our own reasons why.
He tells me he is sorry again.
I look up and meet his gaze, and this time, instead of crying, or yelling or cursing him out, I say, “I know.”
And then I’m propelled back to my body, in this time, in this space. The street light is green again. I go to the grocery store and I do not see my ex-boyfriend, but the healing feels just the same as if I had.