There comes a time in every ended relationship where one of the people involved moves on and gets a new significant other. Someone says checkmate first, and the game ends. Finito. Sometimes one is walking in the back door as another is exiting the front door. Sometimes it’s a few weeks, other times months.
If you ask my girlfriends they will all say it’s the man who gets the new one first; and then intermingle words like “soulless bastards”, who heal much quicker than women. Truth is I have seen women just as quickly move on as these faceless, soulless bastards, so I am a believer it is a mix.
Once upon a time; before social media, if you were part of the break-up, you might find this information thru simple word of mouth. Gossipy friends. Someone knows someone, or mutual friends. Maybe you run into the new couple at a restaurant, or a party, or even as mundane as the grocery store. It can be painful, it can be problematic, and it can throw a person off their path for quite some time. If you were lucky enough though, you could go a lifetime without ever knowing. No face to mull over. There would be enough distance and disconnect that it would never need to happen.
But we aren’t in a world without social media, and even the best laid most locked down profiles are eventually seen by someone who talks, and there comes the information, just like the old days.
I had it happen to me this weekend. Truth be told, if information were snakes, I was walking into a room of vipers. I attended an event that would have been deemed “His friends” had he not moved so far that it gave me allowable and perceivable permission to remain close to this fantastic core of people.
It was purely by accident. I had walked out of the party to help gather wine from the trunk a car with a mutual friend of his and mine, and she asked me what I thought of the bangs on the new girlfriend.
I stopped dead in my tracks. New. *GULP* Girlfriend.?!?
It was surreal, and the reaction was very similar to someone unexectedly turning around and saying “Hey catch this!” and then quickly tossing a very heavy bowling ball at you. Before your mind can say NO!, your reflexes react, you have caught the ball in dramatic OOOF!!! and find yourself doubled over by the sheer brunt force of the 15 lbs of whatever bowling balls are made of, cradled in your arms, against your stomach, gasping while the wind was knocked out of you.
No matter how prepared you might think you are, and how healed, or moved along you feel, that bowling ball is coming your way. Just accept it.
As the news came out my friends mouth (and in her defense, we see each other rarely, and while we like one another, we are not overly close, so she had no clue I didn’t already know. The comment I believe was made to jokingly jab on the new product so to speak and was more along the lines of “Whoa did you catch the bus that hit that one!?) everything sort of moved in slow and fast motion. My disbelief, my wanting to scream “Noooooooooooo”” in super slow motion met up with the hyper speed that the information came out of her mouth, until they collided and she stood there in horrifying embarrassment and me proverbially doubled over with above mentioned ball in my stomach, gasping that no, really, I was fine.
My reactions were mixed. Was I going to burst into tears? Was I going to yell and scream obscenities? Was I going to stand there, mockingly doubled over, stuttering out “N-n-noo more…” Was I going to act like who gave a fuck that he had someone new? Yes. To all. No. To all. I thought some of them, I acted on others.
The truth was I was shocked. I was numb. I was embarrassed I had any type of reaction. I was angry. I was insanely curious on who she was. I wanted her to be ugly. I wanted his dick to fall off. I was furiously jealous that he found someone first. I was angry with myself for deciding to go the healthy and healing route on taking my time to date (including removing all dating profiles weeks ago), instead of just taking whatever came my way, snapping a selfie where I looked ridiculously happy and making sure somehow he found out.
The fact is, first one back in the dating pool never feels the pain at nearly the same level as the other. He will be content and if and when the time comes (I’ve been considering becoming a Nun, a Lesbian, or just the Crazy Old Lady who Hasn’t Had a Date in a Decade for a couple of months now) that I do date. If he finds out, I fathom it will sort of be like a feather trying to knock him out. He’ll never get the bowling ball in the stomach, which is another thing that made me so angry.
I walked back into the small party, and the knowledge was palpable. It was embarrassing. Apparently unbeknownst to me, nearly everyone in the party had fore knowledge of this, and none wanted to be the bearer of bad news. I walked back out and sat at my car, my mind a complete whirl trying to place things together. The bearer of news came out, apologizing and I meant it when I said there was no harm. Another female friend followed and between the two of them they did what good women friends try and do. They assured me that she was very unattractive, (Vanity is a very hungry beast) and then they man-bashed.
This is women bonding over the last stage of a break-up. Reminding us of our superiority over the male species and then absolutely snarking over the new girl.
I briefly considered running. Not literally. You’d have to throw a thousand bowling balls at me to get me to literally run. No, I considered heading home. I needed solace. I needed sympathy, but not in the pitiful way I was getting it here.
I texted a few people. My daughter, who now shocked me that even she knew; was pretty supportive. I felt like the whole world was in on the secret but me. I texted a friend who is usually a pretty decent hero, but he was off his game. Heading home I realized would just keep me in my head, and make me crazy. People, music, a few beers — was much better for the frame of mind. So I stuck around, much longer than I wanted to. And I showed everyone I was okay.
Which is partially a lie. I mean, I am okay with it. I know it’s been six months, and it’s perfectly natural to want to get back into the dating pool for most. If the right one came along, I might give it a try too. I’m just not looking. I’m waiting for life to throw one at me. I am a fisherman in a boat, with no pole. No bait. I want the fish to miraculously fall into my lap. I know I tried way too early, way too soon, and that backfired on me. For some it takes time, for others, not so much.
After a bit, I made the drive home. With nothing to do but think for an hour my brain convinced me he was probably dating the one we argued about. The one who had her eye on him when he moved up there even though he was still in a relationship. I got angry, I got rational. I got sad, I got angry again. It was this smorgasbord of emotions. So I played the music louder and drove a little faster.
Toll roads at night are perfect for angry driving.
I know a master at locating information on Facebook. We made a deal that she would show me the pictures, but I couldn’t know who the profile was. It killed me, but I agreed. There they were. Two selfies. He looked happy, but he looked incredibly aged. But it was her. The very one I had told him made me very uncomfortable with her fawning over him. The one that I went back and forth on whether she was a lesbian or not, trying to convince myself with her harsh looks and the large pores, and ridiculous short hair, that she must prefer women, because when you are angry it’s easy to protect yourself with the idea of an unattractive lesbian, even when I know beautiful ones. I think putting her in that category made me feel safer about her intentions. Guess what? Jokes on me. She likes guys. And he – apparently in his new found Seattle-like has a fondness of dykey looking gals.
Ok, that was uncalled for. But very much needed. I feel a bit better.
There were two pictures that I was able to look back and forth on, but only for a limited time. I didn’t honestly think she was as unattractive as everyone was saying. But I was angry that it was her. I was angry that I was right, and had been told I was being foolish and paranoid at the time. I wanted to call him and say, “I KNEW IT!”. I wanted to email him and take these accusations that were forming in my head, that my rational side said were ludicrous. I wanted to text him a litany of insults.
Instead I made a vague statement on Facebook, like any well thought out thirteen year old girl would do (I think we all turn thirteen in matters of the heart. Really, go look at someone in love, and someone breaking up. No difference. Thirteen.) I then text him a very sarcastic “Congrats on moving on and the new Girlfriend.”
Murphy laughed at my weak attempt to thrust a jab his way, and took all of the tone out of the email, so I looked like I was sincere instead of snide, and I got a “Thank you.” in return. Which made me boil, and want to stomp my feet as his inability to read sarcasm. And then I laughed. I really laughed.
The door has clicked shut. Ironically the day before finding this out, I received the last of my things from him. My tripod. I wish I could come up with some sort of symbolic meaning behind that. The three legs for ending balance? Naw. There is no meaning. It was just an item left behind and returned.
Just as true, who moves on first, or doesn’t has no meaning here. Simple fact is: Someone has to. Life goes forward. It sucks to be the one who hasn’t, for whatever your reasons are. Maybe you had hope, maybe you are trying to move slower. Maybe you just haven’t met the right person. The list of maybe’s go on. Without social network I wouldn’t have found out. I would be blissfully ignorant.
But the fact was prior to Saturday evening I was in a good place. I am happy with the way life is moving for me. Why would gaining information that I have no control over, that my knowing or not knowing wouldn’t change anything – why would that make things different for me today?
It doesn’t. It just requires the ability to catch a bowling ball every once in a while.