Saturday, June 15, 2013

City of Specters

I haven't been back to Cincinnati in four years, not since the divorce proceedings. I haven't seen X since then either. Between emotional strain, money, and time, I haven't been back to visit, despite having friends I would like to see. But my cousin got married today, and the wedding was right outside Cincinnati, so Alan and I decided to take the opportunity to make a trip out of it, finally make it to King's Island, see some of my friends, show Alan some of my favorite things from the area like Newport and Jungle Jim's, etc. I gave lots of warning to my local friends about when I'd be down and tried to make it easy to meet up and visit, but the first two nights we have been here nothing has worked out to meet anyone. Friday we spent all day at King's Island, but after the park closed, Alan wanted a late dinner and drink, so we decided to hit up Bar Louie at the levee. We ordered drinks, and after we ordered our food it happened.
I looked up, and I shit you not, there was X. I looked down immediately. I'm honestly ashamed of my reaction. There's just some kind of effect he still has on me. Nervous, ashamed, as if I am some now in the wrong by being in the same bar as him??? I have no idea if he saw me, if so, he never approached me. Our server happened to be serving the group he was in, and seemed he was with some company event. We sat and ate our food, I chugged my martini, and got less anxious, but still weirded out. As soon as our accounts were settled, we hustled out of there. We walked out in front of the aquarium and I sat down on a bench. Of all the people I want to see this weekend, the first one I see is him? Oi.

It's sad because not only does Cincinnati remind me of X, but also reminds me of the two former best friends who I am now estranged from. Two friends who came to visit me here regularly. One of them I cut ties with due to her destructive nature, the other cut ties with me for reasons I'll not go into here, though I believe it to be a large failure to communicate on both ends. This city has minders around every corner of adventures and good or bad times had with them. Hilariously, I think this city is a more painful reminder than the one I live in now, where I grew up with all 3 of these people. 

But why the shut down? Why the frantic texting to my friends about what to do? Why the chugging of the martini? I'm stronger, smarter, and happier than I ever was with him. I'm accomplished, settled, handfasted, and in love. So why can he just reduce me to that mess?

Much like drug addictions and other decencies, when we encounter something we grew accustomed to, our body begins the preparations to deal with it. In this case, shame, fear and shrinking to prepare to try and avoid his attentions, avoid feeling like a fat whale, avoid his eye-rolling and demeaning remarks, avoid feeling like an idiot all the time.
This is ok, and I need to not beat myself up over it. We all have weaknesses, struggles, and reactions to people and things we had a poor experience with. We may grow stronger, but that doesn't mean that wound doesn't twinge when we see the knife that made it. Life is full of pains we'd rather not repeat. We learn to duck when Rafiki swings that staff the second time, or when Rafiki walks in your direction in a bar after you haven't seen him for 4 years. 
The universe is not without a sense of irony, or so I'm told. While the experience was mildly embarrassing and uncomfortable, it only served to strengthen my resolve about continuing to make my life better. 
Living well is the best revenge.

Alan dealt like a champ, and in the end, best I could tell, nothing happened. No looks or words exchanged, and if he didn't know I was there, if he ever reads this, he'll know now. But it makes no real difference in this account, as he has no true power over me, just the shadows of an old pain. The shock was enough to cause me to shrink in, rather than fan my feathers, but it doesn't change or diminish all my amazing accomplishments.

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