You’ve never met me before, though I’m sure you’ve been given an earful. There were many times when I wanted to reach out to you and hold up a big red flag once I heard you guys were dating. Particularly, the first time I learned that you existed. I hated you at first. I was jealous. How could my ex-fiancé be dating someone just three weeks after we had ended things?
I thought he was the one that I would spend my life with, E. I loved him like crazy. We planned a life together. Moved in together. Talked about the things we wanted like two children, a big house and great careers. We planned a huge hotel wedding in the late summer. I had chosen bridesmaids and bought a beautiful gown. We booked a photographer and planned our honeymoon to Hawaii. Our wedding band was amazing. They could play rock, oldies, R&B, and country music. You should have seen my engagement ring. We were happy, E. Like really, really happy.
Then out of nowhere, he announced that he’s not ready to get married. A few weeks later, he moved back across the country to figure things out. I actually agreed to do a long distance relationship. That’s how committed I was to this man, E. How desperate I was to continue investing in this forever love that I was feeling. As if you can actually date someone once the wedding is called off. But what do you do when your ex-fiancé, former soon-to-be-husband swears on his life that he’s still in love with you, that you’re still the ONE and that he just needs more time? That’s when he met you, E. You met my ex-fiancé before he was actually my ex. He never admitted it to either of us.
He met you while accompanying one of his friends to a local party. You were involved in organizing the party. I remember when he called to tell me he was going to this event and said that he was “just being a wingman” for one of his friends. The fact that he even had to justify his role speaks volumes about my trust level at the time.
Long distance is so hard to keep up when all is well in a relationship. Throw in a canceled wedding, time changes and more than a hint of distrust and you’ve got a disaster brewing. Within four months, we called it quits. Even during our last cross-country visit together he suggested running off to Vegas and “just getting the marriage thing out of the way.” Impulsivity was a common theme from him. We said our “I love you”s and then parted ways. I told him not to contact me.
Over those next few weeks, I fought every urge to contact him. I cried constantly. I removed his number from my cell phone. I blocked him from all of my social media accounts. I was determined to keep myself busy. To get over this guy as efficiently and cleanly as possible.
I shouldn’t have answered the phone that night. It was a weak moment. It’s just that I was still so heartbroken, E. You can’t tell yourself to just get over someone. Even when you know the relationship is done. So I answered his call, hoping that he’d tell me that he felt the same way. That something had clicked in his brain about why he wanted out of the engagement. That of course he loved me and wanted to make it work.
That’s not why he called, E.
He was drunk. And flirtatious. He asked me if I missed him. I told him that I couldn’t speak. That I was on my way out. He asked me if I was dating anyone. Wait, what? How could I be dating someone? Hadn’t we just ended things three weeks earlier? Well, that’s when I heard about you, E. He told me that he was dating you. And that it was serious. He told me your name. That you were religious. That you had younger sisters. That you had met his family. I’m not sure why he wanted to tell me these things. I looked you up on Facebook and tried to find reasons to hate you. I couldn’t come up with anything. You looked pretty. Down-to-earth. Normal. I Googled your name and read articles about the work you were doing at a local religious organization. Not only were you pretty, but you did noble things.
A couple of months went by and I threw myself back into the dating pool. As I was walking out the door for a first date, he called again. This time, it was to tell me that he was engaged to you. Engaged within three months of when we ended things. You were getting married in another three months. I asked if you were pregnant. He laughed and said, “Why is everyone asking that?”
He told me the following:
1. He regularly and accidentally referred to you as, “Stacey.” He said you hated that (understandably so!).
2. He went on a cruise with you, the same cruise line that we took to the Caribbean a year earlier where he proposed. In this same conversation, he mentioned that the Caribbean cruise we took was more fun. WHAT?
3. He asked me if I had any more vacation days and that maybe we should consider flying to Asia for a “little, fun trip.”
I want you to know, E, that this was our last phone conversation. I never wanted to speak to him after this. The desire had vanished. He seemingly replaced one relationship with another for no real reason other than his own insecurities, immaturities, and impulsivities.
I stopped aching for him and started worrying about you. I wondered if I should try to reach out to you. To warn you what you had unexpectedly and innocently walked into. You seemed like a nice girl. Someone just looking for a nice guy. You were me, E.
I worried that he had made up some exaggerated tale of the heartbroken, obsessed “ex” that I was. There was a piece of me that probably fit some corner of that description. But how else would a smart, accomplished, nice girl like you be convinced to marry someone that had just gotten out of another engagement if not for omitted truths and exaggerated lies?
My friends told me not to get involved. Anything coming from me might validate a “psycho” profile that he had sold to you. That you were entering this relationship out of your own free will and you would come to know the person he was sooner or later.
I still felt guilty but didn’t know how to reach out. So I didn’t. I moved on with my life. I found someone better. Much better. So much better that I forgot about him and you and my aggravation and heartache. And of course, just when you forget about the things that make your heart bleed, other things happen.
He contacted me on Facebook a few years back. He said you guys got married, then divorced six months later.
“Don’t marry the rebound girl,” the message that came along with his Facebook friend request said.
I deleted it. There was nothing more to know about him. I only felt bad for you. So you now know what you were dealing with. I’m sorry that I couldn’t have told you sooner. I have lived with this guilt for some time. Wondering if me saying something to you would have made you act any differently.
I’m now a mother, E. A mommy to a beautiful 8-month-old baby girl. She’s my whole world these days. I live and breathe and eat and sleep for her. It’s hard to imagine that anything in the world was ever so important as her.
A few weeks ago, I saw that a friend of mine on Facebook was connected to you. I clicked on your profile and was delighted to see that you are remarried now and have a baby of your own. I can’t tell you how happy this made me.
And so, E, I can finally let this go. I will tell you that mother-to-mother, ex-of-your-ex that I wish you all of the best for a happy future. It looks like you already found it. We don’t even need to commiserate about the hell that we went through because, Sister, I know it and you know it and some things are better left in the past. Let’s just congratulate each other on getting out early enough to make our lives amazing and to have war stories (but no serious scars) to teach our babies with. You will forever hold a special place in my heart.
All the best,