I don't always pay attention to anyone around me during this process. It is my routine and other people do not really fit into my thought process until I get to the break room and settle in. I play with my phone, look at the sad selection of books on our book wall just before I pass through the large, grey double doors to the back of the store.
A couple of weeks ago, I had a moment in time during this process that felt as if it lasted for hours rather than seconds. I walked my usual path to the back; in the front door, straight between grocery and cosmetics, around the corner by the pharmacy, past the infant clothes and then I cut over to Electronics, which is right in front of the back room doors.
That day, my mind was acknowledging people. For no other reason than happening to glance up, I made brief eye contact with a guy. He was pulling a pallet, of what I have no idea, past Electronics towards the hardware department. I couldn't tell you what he had on that pallet or if he turned down an aisle or any other detail of anything happening in that vicinity within the next few seconds. Right then, my stomach took a giant leap into my throat and an instant nausea fell over me. My stomach hurt. My chest hurt. My throat was tight and the remainder of my body frozen in place. I was convinced right then that my ex-husband had transferred stores and was now employed again in the same building as myself.
It had been a long time since I had felt that sick to my stomach. I didn't want to move. I didn't want to think. I didn't want to believe he could have just walked by me and destroyed, in that brief few seconds, any semblance of sanity I had gained since the day he stepped out of my life.
After what seemed like hours, I forced my brain to force my legs to move. I walked stiffly towards the doors, pushed through them and found a couple of co-workers and friends. Only a minute or two had gone by. I was informed by one of these friends that the guy I saw only briefly was not my ex-husband, but a new employee with an uncanny resemblance to him. This friend saw the look on my face, and having met the guy I saw already, and having known my past, knew exactly what I was thinking. I let a wave of complete relief wash over me and my entire body sighed with exhaustion. Those few minutes wore me out physically and emotionally before I had even clocked in for work.
While it still throws me off to see this new co-worker making his way through the store, as it does to many of my other co-workers, knowing that the situation is not at all what I thought it was makes my work place feel normal again. My thought process, however, is not.
Having such an intense reaction to something I thought was far into my past has created a lot of frustrating realizations in my mind. I still feel a range of emotions at the thought or sight of him. I still feel sick at every idea & inkling of him in any place in my life. The strongest sentiment, though, is that, after all of this time, over four long years, and after being convinced in my mind that I had forgiven him, my heart has not.
I have no desire to go into the explanation of what happened for anyone in my life that did not know me during that time. I don't want to hash through the memories, the feelings, the shock, the pain or any of the rest of it. Mostly, that is because I really don't remember it. I don't remember why I loved him. I can't recall why we ever thought the two of us would work. I have no idea why I married him. My soul has long let go of those things and left them in the past where they belong. My heart, apparently, or perhaps the deepest part of my memory, has not.
To have such a deeply emotional and physical reaction like that makes me angry. It frustrates and enrages me at myself because I don't want to feel that. I don't want to physically remember anything from that point and time in my life. It's gone. Better things have come into my life and I want to live in my present, thinking about my future. I want my past dead and buried where I left it.
I am only just beginning to think to myself what any of this means, how I should handle it and what I can do for myself to change these things. I have a lot of emotions churning that I don't know how to sift through and understand. I don't know how to comprehend any of them and how I can let go of them permanently.
I guess the lesson I can take from this is that you can move on, you can step forward, you can let go of the things that hurt you, the things that rip you apart and the things that leave you feeling weak and less than what you want to be, but you can't erase that the past happened. You can't pretend that your life began years after it did. You can't pretend that you were always the person you are, because behind you, there is a person you were. You can let go of anger and try your best to forgive, but when it comes down to it, you won't forget.