We've all been blinded by fantasy, caught somewhere between love and lust at first sight. Being heartbroken is one thing but being left heartbroken with herpes is another level.
The last time I ran into him was in February. I was dancing to 2000's throwbacks with my friends (“Hot in Here” by Nelly, to be exact) and out of the corner of my eye, I saw him. I was talking to a mutual friend when he slithered in.
“How are ya, kid," he asked.
After the way it all ended, I was surprised he spoke to me at all. He bought the three of us a round of shots. By accepting it, I subconsciously accepted a challenge to play with fire.
At that point, I had consumed just enough alcohol to ask him the question I had wanted to ask for months: “Hey… can we talk?”
We went outside so he could smoke a cigarette, just like old times. Just like old times, he got distracted by other people in the smoking area, and I retreated inside. When we found each other again, the chemistry that once existed between us began to spark again. He said something, I replied; our voices rose and we both became irritated at the other person's lack of empathy. My friends watched from a distance and overheard our escalating argument. Before long, my friend's husband came up and pulled me away. Needless to say, I left the bar in tears. I haven't seen my ex since then.
There's always a thought in the back of my head that I could run into him again. We live in the same small town, after all. I was on my way to the gym late Sunday morning, when I identified the car in front of me as vaguely familiar. I soon realized, it was him. I wish there had been enough smoke to fog my view. I wish the last year and a half hadn't rushed through my head in that moment. I decided to pass him when traffic permitted. Soon after, he quickly sped back around me. Adrenaline shot through my body.
I continued with my day as planned, and tried not to let that thirty second window control me. I tried to channel my energy into positive acts of self-care. I pushed myself harder in my workout, I indulged in a manicure and pedicure, and I had a glass of wine at dinner while I watched it rain outside.
After several hours of intermittent downpours and heavy wind, a heavy fog eventually did settle in. The composure I maintained so well during the day broke down in my bedroom. Darker clouds rolled in. I tossed and turned as lightning scattered across the night sky and lit up my disgruntled temples.
With each bolt came a flashback. The doctor's office, the unanswered texts, the reckless imbibing, the bar, him speeding ahead—running away from me one last time. I couldn't sleep. I lifted myself out of bed and began pacing around my apartment. I stared at the grey walls and felt empty.
I wish I could channel half of the emotion I have stored up from that relationship into the ones I have now. I wish I did not feel so uninterested, passionless, and unaffectionate towards those I hold dear. These feelings aren't an accurate reflection of what's going on in my head. It's not something that used to be a challenge for me, and it's extremely frustrating to navigate. The last year has added several layers to me, some more beneficial than others. This is one I wish I could pull away, but unfortunately, it hasn't proved as easy as I wish it could be.
In some breakups there are handwritten letters and over-sized sweatshirts that smell like our partner's scent, mixed with the sweet serenade of summer. For me, there's a currently incurable, highly stigmatized STD and medical paperwork. Not only do I have a constant physical reminder but I also feel an emotional pain every time I have sex and every time I even think of touching myself.
As I have learned to somewhat silence these voices, I've also learned to push my feelings aside, too. Unfortunately, the mechanisms I use to guard my heart are the same ones that stop me from feeling any emotional depth or freedom like I used to.
Overall, I am positive in my life but I do still have weak moments. I'm still healing from this experience. I'm over him, but I am still effected by what took place between us. I survived him, and will continue to survive the shadows he's unintentionally left behind.
It's possible to forgive someone, or a situation, and still carry pieces of that incident with you. No matter how hard you try to let go, there are certain pieces that stay with you and continue to shape you throughout your life. I have been molded in many positive ways, but on occasion, the dark side of stigma manages to take over.
He still remains as a shadow in my life: an occasional thunderous, summer cloud. Those thirty seconds serve as a reminder of how far I've come, but also, how much healing I still have ahead of me.