Dear Red: My Toxic Ex Moved to My Hometown

Dear Red,

A few days ago I found out that an ex has moved to my town. Now, this isn’t any old ex, this is the Toxic Ex (verbally and emotionally abusive, critical, etc...he messed me up so bad, I have been voluntarily single for the last five years) who tops the list of People I Never Want To See, Hear From, Or Think About Ever Again. And this is a very small town of just over 1,000 people!

I’m pissed because this was MY town and now I know that I could run into him (or his new wife!!) anytime at the general store or at any local event. I have the urge to tell him face to face what an ass he was and how I didn’t deserve any of it.

But is there anything to gain by even thinking about him? When I take my emotional response out of it, it feels like the universe is simply giving me a wake-up call to let go of the last remaining psychological crap from that relationship. And my gut is telling me to use this as an opportunity to channel all of the remaining anger into determination to finally break down any areas where I’m still holding myself back.

I’d love to hear your reaction – any other observations or words of advice? (And don’t you just have to laugh at how CREATIVE the universe gets with its wake-up calls!?)

Sincerely,

Ready to Move On

Dear Ready to Move On,

Mother fucking universe! :)

I think you kind of hit on the answer already (which shows how far you've come in the last five years, right?). If he has a wife and he's moved on, there is not really anything to be gained by you confronting him. It's not as if he'll change because you gave him the old "what for".

What you COULD do, if you wanted, is have a little ceremony. Call up a few of the friends (or even your mom) who knew how it was for you when you dated that jerk-off, write him a letter of all the things you wished/wanted to say, grab a few beers, read that sucker of a letter out loud, then burn it. Or tear it into a million tiny pieces. OR, get really drunk and piss on it (that's probably a little crass, but whatevs). But use that ceremony as your closure.

This is why I write...because I bottle things up in my head while I think carefully through each change in my life. But sometimes, because I get so internal, I forget to let things OUT, and I'll craft this perfect little response in my head that I hope one day to deliver while back-lit by the sun, with my hair blowing in my face, fist raised, shouting but calm and in control, and breathtakingly beautiful...and of course, there's never a "right" moment.

And then I think about the movie "You've Got Mail" (stick with me here), where she finally gets to tell Fox off. And she lets him have it. Well here. Show, don't tell:

Later, however, she says, "It was the perfect moment, and I finally got to say exactly what I wanted to say," but it didn't actually make her feel any better.

Because really, as you've already said, this moment and this universe ridiculousness is about YOU and what YOU can learn. As much as we'd all like to be in control of the life lessons other people learn (by us teaching them, OF COURSE :)), we can only be in control of our own lessons. That's it.

The thing that I think is cool is that you're THERE.

On the brink of something awesome...there's just this last little snafu, and last little test. This test reminds you of everything you once were, and sometimes that is scary. The awesome news is, is that this is only a TEST. The way you're handling it already is a testament to how far you've come, and where you are determined to go. So forget about it. Life does crazy things to us, but again, we are ultimately in control of our own actions and reactions to things.

So if you run into him at the grocery, treat him like you would any other acquaintance. Say hello, be polite, and move on. You can't own a town, but you can own yourself and your space. And that is YOURS. He has no part of it any more.

You get it girl. I don't know you, but I'm proud of you, because the self-awareness you're exhibiting takes some people a lifetime to find.

Sincerely,

TNR

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