I have been involved in a project to which my work contracts me out. My main responsibility is to develop curriculum and do presentations. If you have been reading my blog for a while, you may recall that I do prenatal classes and discuss about communication strategies with first-time moms-to-be. The contract stipulates that I train two staff members and transfer my knowledge by mid-year for them to take over this presentation. I have grown fond of this curriculum as it is almost like my work baby. There had been one staff member with whom I work closely. The project had been trying to hire another staff member. Right before my presentation last week, I found out the name of the new hire. This name made me physically sick to my stomach for a few minutes before I could calm myself down to do a professional job. Who is it?
My brother’s first and only girlfriend before he dated and married my sister-in-law.
The world is so small. Out of all the people in this area, she has to be the one hired.
Now, you may ask, why does that even matter in any significant way? What I can tell you is that there are only a couple of people that I truly don’t get along with in my life. She is one of them. I guess it all depends on your world view. Are you someone who tries to be all inclusive and accept everyone in your life? Or do you try to maintain a healthy boundary and keep those that you know won’t bring positive changes out of your life? In the last few years, I make an effort to keep toxic people out of my life. I try to surround myself with people who truly care about me and I truly care about. This is the reason why I was so appalled by this news.
The thought of this ex-girlfriend brings back many bad memories. When my brother and I were teenagers, we lived in an apartment by ourselves most of our high school years. My dad was making a living overseas and my mom would be with him about 3/4 of the time during the year. It could feel so lonely and uncared for as teenagers to be left alone to fend for yourself. My brother started dating and I was even more left alone. I’d say that it was mostly my brother’s doing for not taking care of his little sister, but this girlfriend didn’t help either. They were always hanging out at her house and I’d rarely see the two of them. But it wasn’t just this. It was her personality as this loud, uncaring person who was not nice or friendly to me. Somehow there was this rivalry going on with her. Belonging to the same church and the same youth group, we had plenty of opportunity to get to know each other. The more I knew her, the more I didn’t want to know her. After they had been dating for about two years, my brother discovered that this girlfriend was cheating on him with his best friend. I clearly remember the day they broke up; how my brother calmly told her that it was over and how she was screaming and slamming the door of the apartment. The funny thing was, my brother was really over her, and continued to maintain a friendship with his best friend and this ex-girlfriend. It was partly because he himself found a great girl who later became his wife. But it was still great to see my brother having such an open heart and mind. Ex-girlfriend still very much wanted to be in my brother’s life. She asked to be one of my sister-in-law’s bridesmaids and later on asked if she could be the godmother for my brother’s children. She ended up being in my brother’s wedding and got named the godmother. There were many more things that I won’t go into details about. All I can say is that for my young self, it was very difficult to love her or like her when I found her so unlikable. My mom is the most easygoing person and even she was super relieved that my SIL married my brother and not ex-girlfriend.
Ex-girlfriend eventually married my brother’s best friend, who happened to be the brother of my guy best friend. Our social circles were a bit intertwined. She asked me to play the piano at her wedding because my SIL had just given birth at the time. I saw her repeatedly at social gatherings in the 10 years of her marriage because I am close to my best friend’s family. She was in my life and I felt like I didn’t have a choice. The last time I saw her was at my best friend’s wedding. I was surprised to see her because she had already separated from her husband. She wore her huge engagement ring and walked around like she was part of that family. That was right before the divorce was finalized and she stuck herself in front of the camera for every single family photo. I remember how upset my friend’s father was because her presence would forever be in my friend’s family wedding photos.
I get news about her once in a while. She remarried in her early 40s. Her doctor told her that at her age, the only way to get pregnant would be through fertility treatment. She went ahead, tried naturally, and got pregnant the first month she tried. I had been trying for a baby for a couple of years already at that time and couldn’t believe it that she had achieved what I couldn’t without any effort. I know it’s shallow of me and I admit it, but her pregnancy news was a really big blow to me. But I was happy that she was out of my life and I didn’t have to endure any Face.book talk of her pregnancy. I got a glimpse of it when my brother told me that she posted a lot of details about her pregnancy including yelling publicly at her husband for being out late with friends leaving his super pregnant wife at home.
So now, back to this news about her being back at my life. I still can’t believe it that the world is so small and she is the one who got hired. I texted both my brother and my SIL that brother’s girlfriend got hired to work with me. We all just jokingly call her my brother’s girlfriend because she would show up once a year or in two years and cook my brother’s favorite food for his whole family, then disappears for another year or two. Both my brother and SIL found this news so funny. They were laughing aloud and wishing me good luck. Bob joked that my brother should apologize to me as this was all his fault for bringing ex-girlfriend in my life. My sister-in-law joked that I should thank her for marrying my brother instead. She said “Better work with her than be related to her. The scale of pain is all relative.” I was laughing so hard at that comment. It’s very true. And it does put things in perspective. I do have to have contact with her. I do have to sit down with her and train her on my baby (presentation). But I do believe in myself for being able to keep things very professional. I am in the driver’s seat and I know my ability. As much as the thought of working with her is unpleasant, my anticipation could be a lot worst than reality. Maybe she has changed? Maybe she is super nice now? I won’t know until I see her. But I am grateful that I find out right now and have time to prepare myself rather than being surprised and shocked when I get introduced to her for the first time. A coworker of mine said that I should codename her Janice after the character on “Friends” who kept on creeping back in Chandler’s life. That’s such a brilliant idea!
Maybe God has a lesson in this for me? Something for me to learn? This is definitely a good example for me to pray for love in my heart for unpleasant people and in unpleasant situations. Hopefully with the right attitude, my interaction with this ex-girlfriend will be as painless as possible.
But I still can’t believe that she’s back in my life, and I have no choice to get out. It will take me a while to get over this.