Encounters

Having just come out of a relationship, she seemed on edge by the friendlier young men she worked alongside each day. It was as though, now that her relationship was over, these men seemed to sense her vulnerability and suddenly showed interest in going out with her. That’s why she always insisted on group outings whenever they asked.

When the guys asked her to play board games at the local board game pub, or showed interest in her passion for Swing or Salsa dancing, she would make certain that all in the room could hear and understand that it would be a group outing, an open invitation, and not a date.

That’s probably why she hated him at first, the new guy at work. Although, it could also have been that he reminded her of an ex who had ripped her apart verbally whenever he was frustrated and they were alone. Frankly though, that impression was probably a poor first one, or simply a misguided prejudgement, as the only thing those two had in common was long hair and band life. Nothing truly substantial, but he put her on edge much more often than the other men who had suddenly shown interest.

He was unbelievably nice though and everyone said so, specifically to her… Which deepened her suspicions of the man himself. Why was he always looking her way? Why did he grin at her in that way? Why was he continuously trying to talk with her at work? What did he want from her, and why? Whether it was an attempt on his part to get her to view him in a positive light or sheer happenstance, one day completely at random his good friend and bandmate spoke softly to her of his admiration for this man.

The things his friend said seemed so much like something she would like to hear, that she was convinced he had asked his friends to talk to her about him. To put a good word in for him, so to speak. Was she being paranoid or did he really want something from her…and if so, what could it possibly be? He didn’t know her at all and she rarely responded with more than a few words to his questions, whether they were work related or personal.

 

At the moment, she was struggling with this and other questions as well. Recently, she had broken up with the man that she wanted to marry. It was after a night out with his friends, when feelings once again crept in that she was kept at arm’s length, as an outsider looking in, and that she was just another body in a crowd at one of his parties.

Though after she did it, she lay in bed for days, depressed and wondering whether she had made a wrong choice under the influence of alcohol and suffering from the mood swings of her most recent attempt at a birth control. The mood swings always came about four months into taking the pill daily, and this was the fourth attempt on a new birth control, with no success as far as maintaining her emotions went. So after the split she was terrified that she had made the most important decision of her life not being fully in control of her emotional state.

 

After discovering that her daughter was suffering, her mother picked her up and took her out of the city to one if her brother’s farm houses. He and his wife were out of town, and her mother was taking care of their house and animals. Her mother was right that it was good to get away, out of the city and to be away from everyone, including her now-ex.

Upon arrival back into the city, she developed a new-found friendship with one of her ex’s friends who was struggling with his own breakup. He had been extremely attached to his former girlfriend, and was on the verge of hurting himself when his friend-family caught on and pulled him out of his own negativity and solitude.

They saved him and he began a new journey of self-love and self-help. The two were able to discuss the pain of the loss of a longed-for future without judgement from others who wouldn’t understand their experiences. This was another huge stepping-stone for her in the healing process. She wasn’t one given to flights of fancy and romance, so when she had felt love for her ex and dreamed of their future together she assumed that meant it was right.

However, after many discussions with her ex’s friend she came to realize that her ex, due to a prior marriage, was the one in this instance who had things to work on before he could open himself up fully to another. His friend helped her realize that if he could not love her for exactly the person she was in that moment and want to journey with her in her own growth as a person, then it just wasn’t right.

If she had continued to try to be the person he needed her to be in order to fit into his life, then the person she would become would never truly be her. If he chose to love her then, it would never work out in the end. Eventually, she would have had to break free of that fraud of a person that she would have become. In recognizing this, she was slowly able to come to terms with the loss of the future and the love that she had wanted.

 

The young men at work and at dance seemed to either recognize her vulnerability or her newfound confidence, she couldn’t be sure. Those at work asked after her dance and implied that they would be interested in joining. She told them that all were welcome, from beginner to expert, and that dances happened at a bar downtown on Friday and Saturday nights.

Two of them decided to come down one night and eventually a third man, older and recently divorced joined them as well with his best girl friend. They were all genuinely interested in learning to Swing dance, though one admittedly preferred the Salsa night, because of this she continued to invite them back from week-to-week.

She kept the groups fairly large, even including the new young man from work who made her feel watched, regarded. He seemed out of his element, to some degree, but he insisted on coming back as often as band practice would allow. The first week he showed up, her best friend found him by her description and dragged her across the room to greet him. Passing within ten feet of her ex, whose attention was clearly drawn, which embarrassed her to some degree.

Later that night she asked the man from work if he would like to dance, and he was eager to in spite of his inexperience. During their dance, her ex who had been watching her throughout the evening interrupted to hug her goodbye. As she felt his behaviour strange, her hug was obviously rigid in return. To his credit, though the young man could not possibly have missed the awkward encounter, he kindly acted normal and carried on with the dance as though there were no interruption at all. Near the end of the night, she felt the need to leave rather abruptly and he offered to take her friend home. The next time they saw each other at work he remarked on her sudden exit and implied that he had been impressed rather than offended.

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