Spying on My Ex's Wedding

From her vantage point across the street in the park, Jan Barker saw more than she bargained for-including a few hard truths about herself.

By Jan Barker
Photograph: Photo by: Craig Cutler

Finally, Bill reaches over and gives me a hug. “You go on home,” he says. Loosely translated, this means, “Please get out of public view to avoid further humiliation.” A million thoughts run through my head—bribing him, murdering him, begging him—anything to keep him silent. “Good seeing you,” I say as I turn to leave. Bill heads back to join the wedding party on the church steps. Soon they will be off to a soirée with free-flowing Champagne and fancy hors d’oeuvres while I contemplate playing in traffic.

Rather than emerge into plain view, my friends and I walk all the way through the park to catch a cab. On the way, we discuss exactly what it was that made us think this was a good idea in the first place. I don’t have a clue. Anne is feeling too sheepish to suggest much of anything. Sarah thinks I needed closure. “Well, I certainly got that,” I say.

We arrive at my apartment building, and I go upstairs alone, feeling like the biggest loser on the planet. The only way to deal with this, I realize, is to remain under the delusion for the rest of my life that maybe, just maybe, no one else knew I was there.

My girls won’t be home until tomorrow. With only the TV to keep me company, I can’t remember ever being lonelier. Some part of me always thought that my ex would come to his senses, beg my forgiveness, tell me what a fool he was to leave. I imagined a Graduate-like scenario, where he would turn and run screaming from the church, back to me, his one and only true love. “It will never work,” I’d say. “There’s been too much damage. Now I’m dumping you.” So much for that fantasy.

I get up off the couch to pour myself a glass of wine, light a candle, look for something to read. As I stare absentmindedly at my book-shelf, I remember the letter I wrote to my then-husband right after he left, apologizing for anything I had ever done to hurt him. I thought if I were the bigger person, he would apologize too. I wanted to know that he cared about me on some level, even if he didn’t love me.

But after today, I realize it’s unlikely that he’s ever going to apologize. And maybe he’s not even sorry. They say that acceptance is the final stage of grief. What they don’t say is that some people have to make big-ass fools out of themselves to get there.

JAN BARKER lives and works in New York City. She reports that her espionage days are happily behind her.

Have you ever spied on an ex? Tell us about it.

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