I Now Pronounce You

It Doesn’t Go Away Just Because the Ring Goes Back

Posted in Uncategorized by inowpronounceyou on August 1, 2007

Last night at 6:30 I walked in to Tonic to finally see exFiance. We’d made and broken plans to do this a few times…well, that is to say that we’d made and I’d broken plans a few times. For whatever reason, when the time came for us to sit down, I just found that I wasn’t ready. But earlier this week, when she’d asked me about meeting up (in an email) I decided to put my foot down with regards to my own (fear? insecurity?) and set a date and keep it.

6:30. At Tonic.

Understand this before I go on;

I don’t get nervous. I never really have. I’ve stood calmly at the free throw line with time running down or come around a screen knowing that I was about to take a “big shot”…I’ve sat, realxed and joking before huge business meetings that I was going to run when my company absolutely had to have the revenue…I’ve run lines with shaking actors minutes before the curtain rose without a quiver in my voice and I’ve run chords with guitar players with nary a shake in my fingers…that isn’t to say that I’ve hit the big shot, nailed the big meeting, or rocked the house every time. But if I didn’t execute, it was not and has never been due to nerves.

Not. ONCE.

So, with that in mind I can now tell you that I honestly thought to myself “I’m coming down with something” as I sat on the Metro due to the sick feeling in my stomach…that when I noticed there was a slight tremor in my hand I felt completely certain that I’d caught some bug. It wasn’t until I found myself thinking that I should cancel this meeting because I don’t want to get her sick that I realized (only due to the aforementioned foot downing against backing out) that I wasn’t ill.

I was scared.

Scared of all 5′ nothing of exFiance.

Scared that I was going to somehow walk in there and go right back to freaking out in taxi cabs; hyperventilating and feeling most UN-INPY-like. That somehow there was something else that she could do to me that I hadn’t already been put through with some other right hook that I didn’t see coming.

Did I back out? No. I walked down Irving to Mt Pleasant, took a deep breath, hooked a right and started walking towards Tonic. I had consciously stayed out of this area to avoid chance meetings…and here I was, plodding towards an intentional one while I wrestled with making it to the door. And that’s the right word; wrestling.

It’s AMAZING to me how many excuses your body can physically throw at you at the behest of a mind that does NOT want to do something. Upset stomach. Headache. Sore feet. I noticed everything, and I did not stop. Lots of deep breathing accompanied every bizarre realization (Oh GOD…I’m carrying the leather messenger bag she gave me for Christmas! Does that mean anything?!) that hit me as I got closer before I actually thought to myself; “That’s ENOUGH” and I actually said out loud; “This is NOT going to be as bad as you’re making it out to be”.

And really, it wasn’t.

When I walked in I scanned the room and figured that she wasn’t there…only to have her pop out from behind a guy sitting at the bar not 3 feet away from me. Which scared the shit out of me, incidentally. I mean, it wasn’t like she jumped out at me and yelled “Surprise!!”, but it damn sure did feel that way. She smiled warmly, said goodbye to her friend (who I suspenct she had brought for some moral support…funny how it didn’t occur to me this would be hard for her, too) and hugged me.

We took a table near the door, and over the just-this-side-of-too-loud P-Funk started our awkward conversation. It started with my upcoming vacation to Maine and how my job is going…and then she started telling me about her work which has become, essentially, everything that she does these days. How she’s up and in the office before 8 every day, including Saturdays…about long hours and commitment levels. Side projects and volunteering, too. About commissions and tax schedules…and through all of this I sat calmly while feeling just flat out dumbfounded.

This was not the same person I’d asked to marry me. That woman couldn’t get out of bed for anything. She had quit every job she’d had as soon as it became difficult, or even just inconvenient. She didn’t go in for side projects…she didn’t save money…she wasn’t this…this…together.

And I don’t say this as a knock on the “Artist Formerly Known as Fiance”. Hell no. I loved that woman. I say it as a point of fact that needed to be recognized…by me. Here was proof positiive that she had done what she needed to do for her. I knew it was there even then, but it never occured to me that she’d find it without me.

Which is my own ego talking, really. And, yeah, I’d have liked to have contributed to it…to have been a part of it. Que cera.

I sipped diet cokes while she drank beer (for real) and we veered gently in to “how is this for you?”. We both answered honestly; that it was not easy. That we cared for each other, and wanted very much to remain friends. That this was just the first step in making sure that happened. I told her that I wasn’t really crazy about her timing, and that I really, really wished that she’d left me before we got engaged, or at least said “no…but here’s why” when I asked. She said that understood.

exFiance told me that being here was hard for her, too. That she had been nervous all day about seeing me but she was so happy that I’d come. That we were talking. She expressed shock and admiration for the fact that I wasn’t drinking to get through the meeting as she was, and we laughed a bit about the irony.

It felt good to laugh with her.

I told her getting engaged represented a massive mental shift for me…and that getting back from that proved harder than I’d hoped. But, that it didn’t preclude me from being really, really happy to see her so…together. Succeeding in the way that she is, that I always knew she had in her.

And then we talked about I Now Pronounce You. She told me how she’d heard about it, through a friend. That she read it and it was hard for her to see her life in print for eveyrone to read. I reminded her that it was, in point of fact, my life that was in print for every one to read. That it proved to be tremendously cathartic to write, that I’d never bad mouthed her, and that no one could ever possibly discern her identity from anything I’ve written…

She told me that she doesn’t read it anymore. I don’t know that I felt more relieved or disappointed, to be perfectly honest. For all the noble and petty reasons you can think of without me running them down for you, I’m sure.

The topic of INPY proved to be the end of my energy reserves. I could feel myself wanting to go home, close to door, and hit the couch. To do nothing. Say nothing. It wasn’t depression, but exhaustion. Truly. She was gracious about my stating, “I need to go”. Maybe even a bit relieved. It had been an hour or so, and I think we had both gone as far as we were prepared to go for the first time. Her friend was still at the bar and I assumed she would then turn and give her own recap to him once I left. I knew that I would write mine…but not when I got home. I was too tired for that.

We hugged a little less awkwardly than we had the first time and agreed to see each other again, soon…and it was not lip service. There wouldn’t be any more ducking it. Through it all what did indeed come through was our genuine and shared desire to stay friends somehow. We both recognized, consciously at that, the size of the footprint we’d left on each other.

It doesn’t go away just because the ring goes back.


24 Responses to 'It Doesn’t Go Away Just Because the Ring Goes Back'

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  1. Good for you. And her.

  2. It’s truly impressive that you were able to handle it that well, that soon. I’m happy for you both.

  3. Jo said,

    Oy, this must’ve been incredibly hard to do. Good on you for going through it it. Hard to do but necessary.

  4. WiB said,

    Well done. And well written. I don’t think either are all that surprising at this point.

  5. Arjewtino said,

    If you’re going to get excited about your use of “Ojo de Tigre” then you’re going to have to take it like a man when I criticize your spelling in “Que cera”. It’s “sera”. You were thinking of Michael Cera from the hit comedy Arrested Development.

    De nada.

    Oh, and one more thing: great post, man.

  6. Airam said,

    Wow my heart was thudding just reading this.

    I’m glad that you went through with the meeting. These things are hard but you pulled through.

  7. Nikita said,

    I suspect we all have a couple loose ends to tie up out there (I know I do), and I’m glad the timing was finally right for you to take that first step towards reconciling yours. It’s immensely cathartic to forgive someone, once you’re really ready to do so. It takes courage, though, and a certain risk of pride, so I applaud your maturity in all this. Keep your chin up, and take it as slow as you need to. As a wise man once said, “no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.”

  8. Ms Anthrope said,

    admit it you wanted to nail her! And I can’t believe she gave the ring back….what a silly girl!

  9. carrie m said,

    ain’t that the truth how our bodies react to nervousness. I get nervous about a lot of different things, more often than I would care to admit, and I loathe the feeling every. single. time. great description. and great post. i’m glad it went as well as it did.

  10. beans and cornbread said,

    I was there.. 2 years ago… the first step is always the hardest (well, aside from getting the call from the ex letting you know that he is dating someone you know.. that one, it stings a bit)…

    We had dinner/drinks together a few months ago, and we both had come so far – to the point where I think we both felt that we were truly friends.

    Kudos to you for going through with meeting up… and for a great post about it.

  11. TracyLord said,

    She prob looked really good too.

    I’m not surprised she got or is getting her shit together. After breakups, we have two options, either invest all the time we previously invested in the old relationship in a new one OR invest in ourselves b/c once alone, we realize we’re the only ones who can take care of ourselves and our lives.

    Q: Hearing her have her shit together, did that make you more attracted to her? I’d bet that one of the reasons she was attracted to you in the first place was a sense of security you provided. Relationships are so much more attractive and provide a great distraction when you’re not sure about everything else in your life. You prob felt good being able to provide that security for her. And you said you wished she would have said something before the ring, but all the realities of marriage don’t seem real until there is something tangible like a 10, 20, 30 thousand dollar ring on your finger. Start adding in the wedding and holy shit, if you don’t feel solid about yourself, how can you feel solid about someone else?

    I’m interested to see if you’re friends in 6 months. I say that not to be cynical but b/c I’ve rarely seen it executed (and I just posted on this!) The pursuit of friendship post breakup is that emotional safety net we lay out in order to wean ourselves off the relationship. It’s like we can’t possible entertain the thought of someone who was the center of our universe (or pretty close) not being in our life whatsoever. So we try to be friends. But I equate it to a sports injury. You stay off the court until the injury heals. And that may take a while. If you can go back and play, great. If not, you move onto another sport.

    Great post…Now wait until you see her with someone else for the first time. Talk about the heart beating faster.

  12. Belle said,

    Great post, INPY. And I’m glad you didn’t let yourself back out this time.

  13. Thanks, y’all.

    To answer the questions;

    No, I didn’t want to sleep with her.

    Her success didn’t make me want her more OR less. I think that she’s just off limits to me mentally. I wouldn’t go back, even if I could.

    Thanks again.

  14. Justin said,

    INPY, brother. Incredible post; it touched me on a certain level… as you know.

    ‘Just wanted to express that I completely understand the nerves and body and mind and heart not wanting to work together… when I spoke with S before this deployment on those few occasions when I couldn’t avoid it, my hand shook so much that I literally had to pin it and my ear and the phone against something in order to keep it still enough to listen and speak.

    Nonetheless, I admire but do not yet understand your capacity for forgiveness… for wanting to be friends. Not that everyone’s experience is so linear that we can all draw the same lessons from it, but until now, your experiences had been mine… point being, I can’t yet even imagine wanting to be S’s friend. In summary, friend, you are a bigger man than I… I am sincerely impressed.

  15. Meokat said,

    My ex, who I thought I was going to be moving in with when he pulled the plug (I know, not engagement, but still), I only managed to meet up with once after it ended (its now been over a year). I felt so sick to my stomach the leading up to it I nearly threw up. And I’m not a nervous person either.

    For months afterwards I woke up with sick-to-my-stomach nightmares thinking he would be able to do something to me that would make me feel as awful as those words ‘there’s something I need to tell you…’ (I was in the UK, he had started sleeping with someone)

    Massive kudos on being truly able to think you can remain friends–even if it doesn’t work out. Way to go.

  16. That is a great post. Facing your fears, mustering up the courage, looking back and then looking forward ,… none of that is easy. I admire you for those things.

  17. Way to fight through the nerves, brother. I still get ’em before performing spoken word pieces, and truth is, if they’re not there, I’m about to fuck up. Different situation, but same circumstances – you had the nerves because you had a bar for yourself to reach, and didn’t know if you’d get there. Look down – you passed it. Keep doin you.

    RE: HH Ideas – Since an October/Halloween four-day weekend is looking ever more likely, can we make one day an official “Half-of-the-Home-and-Home” Happy Hour?

  18. Jay Gatsby said,

    Nicely written post. Like some of your previous postings, it causes the reader to experience the same emotions you did, though to a significantly lesser degree.

    Interesting that you used the word “fear” to describe how you felt. Yes, I know you gave a laundry list of things you feared, but you seemed to realize that there was, in fact, nothing to fear. It was all in your head. Once you realized this fact, your memories of her and how you reacted to her in the past, lost most of their power of you.

    I’ve always been an advocate of the belief that you can’t control what other people do, but you can control how you react to their behavior. Some people would consider the control of emotions, especially “love”, to be a callous way through life. Frankly, that’s the only way you can survive the type of experience you had with your ex-fiance.

  19. freckledk said,

    Good on ya.

    It really does seem that, for as close as you once were, you are now more like strangers. I don’t know if you would agree with that or not – it’s just how I felt when reading this.

  20. I haven’t had as much time to respond to these comments as I’d like…but here are a few responses;

    Justin; I htin kwe have two very different things to forgive here, and mine is easier. MUCH easier, than yours.

    Brooklyn Boy; Done. Consider it part one of the home and home series.

    Jay Gatsby; Gracias.

    Freckled K; that’s a great way to describe it. I totally agree.

  21. Lisa said,

    Good for you. This is something I simply can’t do. Don’t want to, can’t, won’t. Sometimes it’s something I wish for, and then the oh hell no kicks in.

  22. startingtoday said,

    Good for you. You’re stronger than I am. Through your post, your words easily had the reader feeling how nervous you were going in to this – hell I was nervous for you as I read it. And the reason you’re stronger than me, is that if my ex and I didn’t have a daughter together, I would have probably broken all ties, never spoken to him again. Would have run away from him. Would have never wanted to remain friends of any sort. Seeing him this week when I went up to visit for a few days made my anxiety go through the roof. Then again, he didn’t leave a huge footprint in my life. And maybe I never let him.

    Maybe this is true for you, and I’m sure this is true for me, and for many others I’m sure- but even though these meaningful relationships haven’t worked out ideally the way we had planned them, that doesn’t mean you just pretend they never happened. They are a part of your past.. your life.. And they help make you (and by “you”, I mean everyone who goes through this) who you are today. I know that sounds kind of cliche, and maybe it is. When my ex and I first broke up, I was bitter, untrusting, and felt I would never be able to trust anyone again enough to love them. But who knows? Maybe when the dust settles after failed relationships, it makes you stronger? So with that.. I’ll wait for my dust to settle. Really great post.

  23. College Grad said,

    I thought about this post a lot more over the past day after seeing the “College Ex” for the first time sober since we broke up. It was interesting. It was almost serene, not friendly and not quite uncomfortable, but not something you would want to deal with for a lengthy amount of time. I don’t know if we’ll ever be friends, but it was interesting.

  24. suicide_blond said,

    i generally just lurk along quietly here..but..
    just had to say…
    good job

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