Helena

You look so sweet waiting for me while I wait for her to give me any reason to leave. Don’t waste your pretty sympathy. She’s gonna be just fine, and, Helena, so will we. So will everything in time. “Helena,” Nickel Creek

The Ex and I met while working for the same call center. After jumping through many MANY hoops I was tapped to train a class of new recruits. And there she was- the girl who would change nearly every aspect of life as I knew it.

I was dating My First Girlfriend, and had been with her for just over six years. We were miserable. Easily described as just roommates who didn’t have sex but got along most of the time. We owned a side business together, we had some fun together, but we were still closeted to most of the people in our lives. And it slowly killed us both. My First Girlfriend was suicidal, tired of hiding from everyone and living a lie. I was dead inside, having come to the conclusion that this life had nothing else for me but a loveless relationship, a failing business, and a sexuality that everything about my upbringing taught me to hide and deny.

When The Ex walked in, she was obviously out to everyone around her, and proud to be so. She talked openly about being a lesbian, about her fiancée and their child together, about stereotypes she had battled and overcome. It was wildly attractive. To be that open and honest about who she was and how she felt… it was completely foreign to me. And I couldn’t stop admiring her for it.

I can’t fully describe how or when it happened, but I fell head over heels for The Ex. I would find out later that she is often drawn to those in supervisory positions above her, so she was also taken with me from the beginning. There was plenty of flirting, which led to playful physical contact, which led to secret text messages.

I remember the first time she touched me- I was sitting with one of the other trainees at a desk when she walked behind us and put her hand lightly on the back of my neck while saying “excuse me” and sliding by. It was as if a charged electric wire whipped across me. I felt a jolt shoot down my neck and through my back, and I knew I was done for.

The secrecy came next. We tried to hide the looks and gazes at work. I changed her name in my phone to something generic in case My First Girlfriend picked up my phone because of all the messages coming in. I would even hold my phone as I fell asleep to make sure My First Girlfriend couldn’t spy. And to make sure I didn’t miss any text messages from The Ex, of course…

You looked so sweet. I should have seen while I was playing for fun you were playing for keeps.

It took me less than six weeks to get out of my relationship with My First Girlfriend. Six and a half years together, and I never had the courage to wrap it up and get out until I met The Ex. While I know, and still whole-heartedly believe, it was the right thing to do, I did it in the absolute worst way possible; by email.

After planning a few secret dates, The Ex and I admitted our feelings for each other, and began talking about if and how us being together would work. We were both in committed relationships. She had a kid at home. There was no easy way to do it. And after several emotional battles, The Ex told me the timing was all wrong and things just weren’t going to work out. I was devastated. I let myself get too close and was already feeling heartbroken over someone I hadn’t truly been with.

I cried myself to sleep that night. I woke up angry and hurt. And when she texted me that morning to check on me, I told myself “what the hell” and poured out all my pent up feelings, desires, hurts and wants. It made her cry. It made me cry again. And I decided right then that I was going to seize the chance that was in front of me, the chance to feel something again, to care for someone and be cared for again, and I wasn’t going to waste it.

I have often attributed some of the negative things that have happened to me later in life to the email break up I sent My First Girlfriend. What a cowardly way to do it. I have since been dumped by text message twice, and had two girls I went on dates with end things by text. I get it, and I deserve it. It was shitty. I just couldn’t wait any longer, and I really didn’t want to go through the drama of doing it in person. I have since apologized to her for it, but still. I’m an asshole.

So when The Ex left me for someone else, just like she left someone else for me, it should not have surprised me as much as it did that she did it by text and was a complete asshole afterwards. And just like I stopped caring about how much My First Girlfriend was hurting when I left, The Ex stopped caring about my feelings during our split. And just like I packed up our past together and compartmentalized all we had been through, The Ex did the same to me.

Don’t tell me karma doesn’t exist. I got what I deserved. Still do sometimes.

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