One of the bad parts about staying in the same town that you graduated college in is that inevitably, you'll run into people from your past who you would rather not see. Like today when I unexpectedly bumped into one of the ex's little slips in fidelity. It had been awhile since I'd seen her; even longer since I'd seen her in the same room as myself and the ex. If counting my two relationships since him was any indicator, I've obviously moved on. I don't wish her a quick slip and a bad fall anymore. I don't spend my nights obsessively checking her Facebook profile to see what she's been up to lately (answer then would have been, "having more of a life than you are obsessively checking her page, dipshit,") anymore, either. In fact, it was kind of a shock to see her and instantly remember that, well, she exists. So I did the natural thing, which, in this case, also happened to the the right thing: I smiled genuinely at her, and said, "Hi, _____, how have you been?"
And she barely looked at me. She said a flat "hi" back, and moved on with whatever it was she was doing. For a moment, I was PISSED. Look, I've been the Other Woman (with the same guy, nonetheless!) in the past, so I know what running into the First Woman entails-- You smile politely, but not too much, lest she think you're mocking her. You speak first. You say a genuine, polite "hello" or "hey." If she engages you in conversation after that, you stick to neutral topics-- the weather, work, school, recent plans (that DON'T involve the man in both of your lives). You DON'T just ignore her. Because here's the thing, if you don't at least smile and say hi, then you're being a bitch. And if you happen to the the First Woman, you end up having yet another reason to hate the Other Woman even more. Basically, I was mad because I slipped back into the thinking that if you have the balls to want to share my relationship's bed, you BEST have the balls to meet my eye when you see me. Otherwise, I'm going to think that you're a coward, not a threat, and start to question my partner's interest in you in the first place and if you're what he wants to run around with, than is he really the sort of man I should be with? There's a very particular sort of woman who lurks around the outskirts of your life, looking in, wanting what you have, and is all bark behind your back and no real bite, and those are the women I can't fucking STAND. And THAT is EXACTLY the sort of woman who doesn't have the social grace or class to actually buck up, be a big girl, and converse like an actual person.
All of this flashed through my mind in about a nanosecond, dragging with it all the old feelings of spite and envy and mistrust and haughtiness. Then, something else happened-- I suddenly realized that I had no right to feel ANY of those ways about her anymore, as I was no longer (obviously) with the ex, and neither was she, either. I realized that if she couldn't even look my in the eyes now, over a year after everything between all of us went down, well, that was telling. About her, about her character, and about how she felt about the whole situation. And so, I kept on walking, letting it slide, and feeling vaguely protective of her, and the innocence and naivety that she exposed by not knowing how to do the right thing. Because, when it comes down to it, there are always going to be other women out there who are either trying to get a rise out of you, or you are trying to get a rise out of, yourself. (I would be lying if I said I was currently engaged in a game of electronic "chicken" myself.) We all have it in ourselves to be bitches. We all know exactly how to hurt other women. But that's all rather childish, and should be behind us by now, like how I realized that what she thinks or does no longer has any impact in my life, not even if she refuses to respond to my greeting. What really proves who the bigger (and better) woman is is who smiles and says that theoretical "hi" first. And I am now DEDICATED to being that better woman.