When I start dating someone, early in the relationship, I try to have the ex conversation to sort of get things out of the way and clear the air. I like putting my cards on the table and letting people know who I am-- no illusions.
On a first date, if I'm feeling it, I'll say "I like you, and I'll probably want to go back to your house later and make out for hours but I won't be having sex with you-- I don't sleep with guys on the first date, so you may as well get it out of your head now."
So, I would say that within the first couple weeks, I had had the conversations I wanted to have about my exes and had asked my husband pointed questions about his previous relationships. I have to thank the one before me. J sort of laid the groundwork for me in a lot of ways.
I could take the temperature of our relationship by things that had happened with her-- without him realizing it, she had opened him to the possibility of something long term. They weren't right for one another but she had got him thinking.
Naturally, he had run away from her and had behaved in a completely immature way. When I met my husband I saw 'potential' and 'possibility'. People ask me how I found such a great guy. He did not present that way. I saw the diamond shining inside him, but it took years of polish for the rest of the world to see that. None of us start out that pretty, there's a lot of work to do to get that way! And along the way, the previous women have left their marks, for good or for bad.
When I met my husband, he was wanting to be in love but commitment phobic. He had attempted a commitment with J, and it had scared him so badly, he broke up with her at the first signs of happy domesticity.
She lived in our neighborhood. We'd pass her walking along Delmar, see her coming into Blueberry Hill. The two of them would not speak. He would hurry along away from her, and there was no contact. But I knew what she looked like.
Somewhere in the first year of our relationship, I heard she moved to California. I had no feelings about it either way. She was a benign, non interfering ex girlfriend. I didn't really pay much attention to her. One day she was just gone.
Fast forward five years. I was a manager at Cicero's and had been for a couple years. J had gained quite a bit of weight and moved back to town. The first time she came into Cicero's, I didn't recognize her. There was something familiar about a tattoo she had on her shoulder, but I couldn't place it. J was friends with the guy who ran sound for the bands and started coming in every night, kind of late, waiting for her friend to get off work. So, pretty soon she was hanging around after hours.
If she was hesitant to talk to me at first, I didn't notice. If she was ever stand offish, I didn't pick it up. Because she always knew exactly who I was, from the very second we started talking. But I soon had her warming to me and she and I had an easy rapport. We would talk about everything and then one day, the other manager hired her to fill a position that had recently opened up, so she was working for me.
We saw one another every day and we had a great time.
I had no idea she was living in fear of me finding out who she was.
This is another story but during this time, I was going through a tremendously taxing emotional ordeal. I was being harassed and threatened by a crazy social worker-- it's a long story. The woman was eventually fired- but during this time, I was a wreck and that Sunday I hit the wall of emotional capacity and had a breakdown. I started crying and couldn't stop.
My husband(my then boyfriend) drove me to work and sat with me while I begged the general manager to cover my shift.
The GM was my dear friend and he took one look at me and knew I was in no shape to work. It was the first time that had ever happened.
As I was sitting on the rail, sobbing, J showed up for work, walking by me at a distance.
She shared a look with my husband. It was a slight nod of acknowledgment between the two of them. It was such a small moment of recognition that passed between the two of them. I stopped sobbing for a moment and said to him "Do you know J?"
He blinked at me. "Do I know J?"
And the bolt of lightning went off in my head. I looked at him and looked at her and started laughing almost as hysterically as I had been crying. I felt so foolish for not recognizing her, for not realizing who she was.
But I realized that I was meant to have this friendship for some reason and the veil that was in front of my eyes had been there for a reason, so that I would take the friendship without the baggage or the guilt.
J came to me the next day and begged my forgiveness.
She said "I thought you knew and the point that I realized you didn't know, I couldn't bring myself to tell you because I was afraid of losing your friendship and I liked you so much, I couldn't bear to ruin it."
Forgiving her was easy.
She was a friend and she had made a little mistake.
Then I had an opportunity to get her side of the story of what happened between her and my boyfriend. It gave me an insight I wouldn't otherwise have had.
That moment was one of the most powerful moments. I don't know if I can accurately describe it, but it's one of those mysteries. She just found me on facebook and sent me a friend request. I accepted it.