your ex and their superpowers

I only know one person who married the first and only girl he ever dated. He’s lucky. The rest of us have to slough through our share of relationships, and we inevitably experience the painful nonsense that is a break-up. And then we deal with even more painful nonsense that come after a break-up. People deal differently, but for the most part there’s one thing that everyone has in common, and there’s no other way to describe it but this: their ex’s get superpowers.

Take for example: you’re in a grocery store, minding your own business, looking for the cottage cheese. You turn towards the dairy section and there he is. The scum of the earth. Picking up a tub of I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter. You abandon your cart and make a beeline for the exit, hoping he eats the whole tub in one night and gets too fat to fit into airplane seats.

Or another example: you’re window shopping downtown. You’re on your way to H&M to get some fingerless gloves, when you turn the corner and find him. Your high school sweetheart. His gloveless fingers intertwined with some unnatural blonde whose name is Tammy, or so you think/heard/saw on Facebook while stalking his relationship status updates. You duck into a Top Pot and try to shove your sorrows under a maple bar.

I know the feeling. Our hearts get broken, we go off to lick our wounds, and then we recover and life goes on. Yet sometimes we leave a little part of our hearts to remain unhealed, and we leave some salt in reserve so we can sprinkle it over that wound when the time is right. The circumstances are often different, but the symptoms are always devastatingly the same. And more often than not, they’re only devastating to ourselves.

Some people give up on their common friends or move out of neighborhoods, cities, even countries, just to escape. Then there are some who harbor so much hatred, they turn into vicious back-stabbing, bitter monsters who hold grudges for years, far beyond the point of remembering how they got hurt in the first place. Some people just give in to so much despair, to the detriment of their health, self-esteem or even safety.

It’s tragic. We are all just people, we all get heartbroken, we all make mistakes. Sometimes, relationships work out; sometimes, they don’t. It hurts when they don’t, but the heart, like the rest of the body, is designed to preserve itself, to heal itself when it is injured. The more we try to medicate the pain by ignoring the heartache, or hoping for the impossible, or being defensive, resentful and bitter, the more we stand in the way of healing. The reality is all the escaping, crying, hating and resenting will not make you hurt any less. It’ll just make you hurt in different ways.

Do yourself a favor: get out of your heart’s way. Cry if you want, but stop at one box of Kleenex. Reconcile if you can. Forgive. Breathe. If there’s anyone you should be giving superpowers to, it should be yourself. And the greatest power you can give yourself is to take that first step forward.

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