Friday, July 15, 2011

Invisible Regrets

She woke up that morning feeling like something wasn't right. What was wrong? She wasn't sure and couldn't put her finger on the source but she knew today wasn't going to be her day.

Avoiding what was waiting for her, she stayed in bed. Snooze became her best friend and most annoying one at that. Pulling her trusted eye mask over her eyes, she rolled over and waited patiently for the piercing sound to annoy her again.

Finally after an hour, making her extremely late, she pushed the covers down and allowed her eyes to open to the bright morning sun. Glancing out the window she could tell the sky was out in all of its glory, ready for the day ahead. Jessie wasn't ready for what it had to offer her.

Slipping into the shower, she let the warm water wash over her. The water on her face slowly awakened her sleepy body preparing her to approach the day. Still not sure what the anxiety was about she pushed it aside trying to find some hope in her day. Remembering the clients she had waiting, a date with her best friend, and her art to rescue her day, she relaxed a little knowing, no matter how bad the day could get she had something to look forward to.

Her muscles began to relax and she soon felt free to join the day waiting for her. The faint remembrance of the fear she woke up with was making its way out. She soon felt like she could conquer the day.

As she stepped out of the shower, slipping into her robe, Jessie felt confident in her abilities and knew she could overcome anything. Her hopes were rising and her fears almost gone. Until she heard the faint buzz of her phone in the other room. As she picked it up, sliding her finger along the screen to open up the text from Patrick. "Miss you", it said. Her heart sank back into her chest. The sudden mix of panic, fear and anger was making her skin crawl. She hadn't heard form him since he broke her heart, 13 months ago. She honestly would have been ok never hearing from him again.

Jessie stared at the text for what felt like hours before slowly turning it over in her hand and gently placing it on the counter, face down. A few deep breathes and a quick prayer, "Lord, help me", and she was back to her morning routine. She was determined not to let this get to her. She wasn't going to let Patrick St. James ruin her day. He had ruined so many others, she vowed he'd never have that right again.

As Jessie walked out the door, pulling it shut, she stared at the pristine sky and held her breath for 5 seconds, trying to push back the feelings of panic that were threatening their way in. She let the air out slowly along with the anxiety. Taking one step forward, then another, she softly said to herself. "You can do this," and continued her trek to the subway.

As she passed the signs and heard the sounds along bus stops and outside of storefronts, she noticed a theme. "He's just not that into you,” read one title on the used books stand. "10 ways to pretend he never existed," read one magazine cover. "Love the way you lie," blares from the radio in her favorite bodega. Walking past, feet heavy, she focused on where she was going. Its not back there. She refused to go back to that place. The one filled with pain, misery, lies, and deception.

Pulling out her phone, she recalls the text from earlier. As she hit "clear", a reply sprang up "Are you sure...” Before she can react, she hits yes. Next step, Contacts. As she types in his name, a sense of angst crawls into her spine. Hitting delete before she has time to reflect, she deletes his information. Why hadn't she done it ages ago? Wishing that this action would delete the past, she puts the phone back in her purse and continued on towards her train.

Arriving to meet her newest clients to talk over their expectations of her, she recognized the woman, but placing her was proving impossible. As she stretched out her hand in introduction, she looked deep into her eyes, trying to place this ever-familiar face.

"Have we met before?" The woman lightly shakes her head, not confident in her reply.

"I don't think so, but you do look familiar." The three sit down to discuss the ins and outs of the upcoming event, fleshing out expectations, dreams and hopes for their wedding. Jessie and her knew clients speak openly about how they see the day going. She feels a connection with this woman but still can't seem to place the sources. As they finish the business side of the chat, the three talk about their stories. How the couple met. How Jessie got into photography. What schools they went to. That's when it hit Jessie. She suddenly knew with a fit of anger and resentment how she knew this woman. She was Patrick’s ex-wife. The one he had cheated on with Jessie, before she knew the truth.

Filled with shame and regret, Jessie quickly but professionally closed the meeting. Needing to get away from the awkwardness, from the anxiety. With fear she'd lose this client, Jessie left before the girl could figure it out. She wanted to pretend like the relationship never existed. The pain inflicted never existed.

As Jessie left the small coffee shop, tears began to form in her eyes. She had done everything in her power to move on from the nightmare that was Patrick St. James. She had removed all remembrances of him. She had surrounded herself with positive, encouraging people. Had even dated a few people casually. She had protected herself from ever going down that road again with him, but now he was haunting her. He was everywhere and try as she might, he wasn't going anywhere anytime soon.

Needing to escape the morning she was having, she met up with her best friend, Abby for lunch. She tried to push the morning's drama out of her mind but Abby sensed her pain and pressed for details. After dumping what was left of her heart out on the table, Abby lovingly put the pieces back together with words of love and support. Abby was good for that. She could turn any moment into one of joy and hope. After 30 minutes with Abby, Jessie was ready to move forward. Unfortunately the day wasn't through with her yet. Neither was Patrick St. James.

As she left the restaurant, a text floated up from her newest clients. "Please call us when you can." Fear bubbled up from her chest. Nausea overwhelmed her. She needed this wedding. She needed this client. A quick prayer and Jessie made the call.

"Hi Jessie, I'm sorry to bother you but are you still available. Can we meet up?" Jessie knew that this was it, but she wasn't going to let herself avoid the situation.

"Of course. I am free for the rest of the afternoon." Jessie forced out. The two arranged where to meet and quickly hung up the phone.

Jessie wasn't sure her feet knew how to carry her forward. Patrick had taken an entire year from her life plus much more and now he was taking her clients. She had left him behind after finding out about his lies, never to speak to him again but he was still haunting her. He was still taking from her what was precious. Jessie was going to fight for this one. She wasn't going to let this one be his.

As she approached the coffee shop they had met in before, Jessie noticed her new client was alone. Fear and panic were fighting inside of her. She hadn't felt like this since the day she found out about who Patrick really was. She hadn't felt this dirty and alone since he had torn her heart to shreds and here he was doing it again.

The two sat down at the closest table. Jessie recognized something in her eyes; she had seen it before in her own eyes. Regret, fear, anger, and disappointment were drowning her and she was fighting with all she had. She was silent, the words she had before were not coming out so Jessie decided to take the lead.

"Meghan, I am so sorry. I really had no idea it was you." Her shoulders sank a little and the breath she was holding slowly leaked out. Tears were forming. She was a strong woman but her resolve was weakening and Jessie was witnessing it. Meghan's hands were on the table fidgeting with a napkin. Jessie put her hands on Meghan's trying to calm her a little bit. Meghan stiffened but didn't pull away.

"When I found out you existed, I dumped him. I had no idea. For the year we were together, I never knew you existed. I promise. He was a totally different guy then he lead on to be. I feel stupid, cheap, used and angry that I didn't see it but I can honestly say I had no idea. So many times I wanted to call you and apologize. I couldn't do it. I wasn't strong enough." Tears began falling from Meghan’s eyes. She was trying to fight them but they won. She put her hands on top of mine in a move of forgiveness.

"Jessie, I know you didn't know. He told me. That is why I never confronted you. I almost did when I found out you were still together after our divorce. I couldn't believe you would stay with him. Then you broke up with him. A friend of Patrick’s told me then that you had just found out. My heart broke again but this time for you. I had heard a lot about you. Who you were as a person and I knew you saw only good in him. My heart broke that he was breaking yours. When you walked up today, I knew instantly who you were. I tried really hard not to let on. I could see in your eyes the moment you realized who I was. I saw your heart break all over again. I wanted then to hug you and tell you that I forgave you but couldn't do that in front of Josh. He wouldn't understand. So I waited till he went back to work to text you." Jessie couldn't believe the wisdom and forgiveness that was flowing from this woman. Her anger towards Patrick intensified. How could he ever hurt someone as amazing as her?

"Jessie, Patrick isn't worth it. Don't beat yourself up over him. I bought into it too. I think of myself as a healthy, well-rounded woman with very little baggage and I still got hurt. I was still betrayed. This isn't about our intelligence. It’s about a lost man who used us. He's charming. Charismatic. Drop dead gorgeous. But he's a liar and a cheater. He did this. You didn't. I have no anger towards you. I have no bitterness towards him either. I have moved on and I encourage you to do the same. Josh and I still want you to be our photographer. Nothing has changed." Relief and joy washed over Jessie as she reveled in the beauty of the woman sitting across from her. Never had she met a woman more full of grace and forgiveness. Never had she met someone so full of love and hope. She was grateful for her example and was soon excited about the opportunity to know her more.

As Jessie processed the day and the opportunity this woman was offering her, she allowed herself once again and finally to walk away from a part of her life that had left her wounded, scarred and broken. She finally felt the holes begin to fill up and was finally ready to move on without her pain as a burden.

1 comment:

  1. Kim, nice work! My fave parts:
    1) the description of deleting the text and his contact
    2) the tension when she gets the invite to meet at coffee shop
    3) when Meghan revelas she knew who Jessie was at the client meeting

    Keep writing.