I dreamt I would hear from her; I fantasized she would reach out to me. I made my online identity public enough that with some basic Googling, my email address would become readily available. Still, I never dared to hope that it would actually happen, that she would really come to me.
So, when her email appeared in my inbox that Thursday morning, I felt completely stunned. There it was: an email I’d only ever thought to receive in some alternate universe. It was blinking in front of me: an email from my ex-boyfriend's most recent ex-girlfriend.
A few weeks ago, I wrote him an open letter, thanking him for all of his psychotic antics, because even though our relationship was riddled with emotional abuse, having to deal with someone so unstable and narcissistic actually made me a better, more self-aware person.
My ex-boyfriend’s most recent ex-girlfriend thanked me for writing the article and said she was grateful to know that his psychological problems were not only prevalent in her relationship, but mine, as well.
We corresponded by email for the remainder of the day, comparing notes and telling stories. It was the kind of “we’re in this together” swapping of information that can only come from being screwed over by the same, deluded individual.
I knew I needed to meet her. I knew I needed to speak to her, to see her and to talk to her. I wanted to be there to help her grieve and to help her clearly see that this debacle of a feigned partnership was by no means any fault of her own. So, I asked her to go to drinks.
We met at a small wine bar between our two apartments on the Upper West Side, 10 blocks north for her and 20 south for me. It seemed almost romantic, like meeting on the dividing line of our separate worlds.
Summer was exactly how I’d pictured her: petite and brunette, with a good head on her shoulders. We talked for more than three hours and, admittedly, got completely wasted on the wine. I mean, what else could possibly happen when you’re sitting across from the only person in the universe who understands the emotional trauma you went through with your ex, on a personal level?
With each and every passing moment I spent with Summer, I began to learn and understand the things that you can only learn from your ex’s ex. I walked away that night feeling free, but also feeling a nostalgic loss.
I regret nothing about meeting Summer that evening, and I hope she feels the same. We’re bonded now in a way no one except two ex-girlfriends can know.
Here are the five lessons I took away from meeting Summer on a late summer evening:
1. There are demons you never knew were there.
Now, they are demons you have to face. Summer found our ex’s porn stash, an event she humorously referred to as “Porngate.” It included a bounty of skeletons that I never imagined could hide in this man’s closet.
Sure, he’d been sadistic and lightyears away from my level of emotional maturity, but the things she iterated via email and told me about at the candlelit wine bar haunted my soul like a lingering ghost. She confirmed what I’d always known in my gut: He was a cheater and a liar.
He was as dark and twisted, as I had grown to understand more clearly the longer we stayed together.
There are problems in all relationships — twisted habits and behaviors with which you most certainly have to deal — but meeting your ex's ex might be akin to opening Pandora's box. Though these demons may be shocking and may open old wounds that you long ago healed, they will never really go away until you have all information in front of you.
2. She’s a human being, too.
Meeting Summer was like nothing I ever experienced. Upon meeting her, I was able to make her human and to relate to her as a fellow human and sufferer.
I’ll admit that when I learned that she’d been stalking my writing for the last few months, it made me feel exposed and slightly embarrassed, but then, I felt powerful. She’d been sizing me up, seeing what I was about and comparing herself to me.
She was human. She was susceptible to being self-conscious.
Your ex’s ex-girlfriend also gets hurt and feels damaged, just like you. She’s not some strange mirage that has no true form; she’s just as human as you are. It’s important not to let that fact make you feel superior to her in any way because you are not.
You fell for the same lines; you also stayed when he became emotionally distant, and you, too, dealt with his self-centered bullsh*t. You were both tricked, and you both now share the same mistakes.
3. She’s proof you are not insane.
She upholds the very tangible truth that you are not insane. She is a well-adjusted human who can confirm everything you already knew in your heart, but didn’t have the backing to prove (other than those screen-grabbed text conversations).
Your whackjob of an ex-boyfriend pulled the same sh*t with her, meaning he’s clearly the crazy one, not the two of you. Embrace this knowledge. Own it.
4. She isn’t necessarily your friend.
You may feel like besties now, but remember what you went through, what you fought through and how much you obsessed over his ex-girlfriends when you were the current one. Remember that though you now feel at ease, her scars are fresh, and up until a few days ago, you were the enemy, not your shared former “partner.”
Be aware that though she’s here now, speaking to you like a friend, she isn’t necessarily your true friend. She’s your sister in fellow empathy. Lend her your shoulder and lend her your advice, but we wary of your trust.
5. Meeting her is what you needed to shut this chapter of your life — for good.
She gives you the finality you never even knew you needed. It has been so long that your current relationship with her very recent ex feels so far away, like the crisp air after a passing storm that you remember while looking at a photograph.
At the end of it all, you realize that this person came after you. It was just another relationship. What once seemed so special to you about your relationship no longer feels special.
As you compare experiences and notice behavior patterns, you realize that this was just another frighteningly similar version of your own f*cked up situation.
She is the bookend, where he was a final chapter.
Photo Courtesy: We Heart It