In June 2018, something happened. Something that I never imagined would happen in my life – I met an ex-girlfriend of my boyfriend.
I used to be the jealous girlfriend who couldn’t bear seeing my partner hang out with other girls, keep contact with his ex, or even talk to any female. I was so good at being jealous that I think I deserved an award.
Who would have thought that one day I’d be sharing a dinner table with my boyfriend’s ex, wearing a jacket borrowed from her, laughing and crying together during heartfelt conversations?
The transition didn’t just take one day. Rather, it has been a years-long process that requires a lot of inner work and growth.
It all happened when our good friend Aiko decided to marry an Austrian guy (thanks, David!) and have a wedding in Salzburg, Austria. And surprise, surprise…Salzburg happens to be the hometown of Narayan’s former partner, Anita, who still lives in the city.
Over the years they remain very good friends, so it’d sound weird if we came all the way there without meeting up. And since we’re going to meet up anyway, maybe we could just stay with her…? Just as we were still contemplating, she made the generous offer, and that was the deal.
Even before meeting her, I could sense that she must have been a kind and open-minded human being from the way Narayan talked about her. On top of that, whenever they Skype, she’d tell him to say hi to me. “Oh, okay, that was weird,” I thought everytime (but didn’t say it out loud).
I had mixed feelings about finally meeting her in person. On one hand, my ego certainly wasn’t happy about it. Why would I want to step out of my jealous-girlfriend-comfort-zone? On the other hand, I was super excited. I could feel that I was ready for the next level of learning in life, and that this was going to be a test for me to see if I had made any progress over the years.
We took a flight from London to Salzburg, and the entire trip I was fidgeting. Contrary to my nervousness, Narayan was all relaxed. “She’s just a good friend of mine now, so we’re going to meet a friend – what’s the big deal?”
That actually helped. The truth is, if we were to meet up with one of my exes, I would have felt super relaxed like he was, because there really isn’t any big deal. The past is already gone, and now we’re showing up as different human beings with new roles and mindsets.
After two and a half hours, we landed in Salzburg. Anita was already waiting for us in the concourse with big smiles . In order to pick us up, she borrowed a car from a friend even though she hadn’t driven for a long time.
The next few days was wonderful. We cooked together, visited her family, biked along the river and city center, and watched football games with her and her current partner. On some nights, she even gave us her own bedroom while she slept on the couch.
Out of everything we did, my favorite part was visiting her family. Her parents live in a big house in the foothills of the mountains. You can see the green hills from the backyard where there’s a swing and a variety of homegrown fruits and vegetables, including my favorite – raspberries. According to Narayan, in the winter everything is covered in snow, and you can start skiing right outside the front door.
When we got up in the morning, her mom already prepared freshly picked fruits and vegetables, warm bread, and some vegan Austrian desserts.
Her sister-in-law also joined us for breakfast, and the conversation topics ranged from veganism, nutrition, to the definition of home. I’m also glad I was able to share materials from my work, NutritionFacts.org.
Feeling how friendly her family was and seeing all the photos on the wall displaying happy memories of this house and its members, I couldn’t help but think that this was the place where Narayan spent many Christmases, and that he was a part of those happy memories, too.
All this made me feel deeply grateful. I’m grateful for the love and care they’ve shown Narayan over the years, and the hospitality they’re showing me now. When we were leaving, her mom hugged me and told me to come back anytime.
Our mission in Salzburg was accomplished. Now that the wedding was over, we were ready to move on to Slovenia.
When the train pulled in and we were about to embark, Anita gave both of us a big hug and told us that she’s really happy to see us happy. Waving and sending kisses from the train, we said goodbye to Anita, to Austria, and to a part of us that belongs to the past.
In fact, that was only the beginning of our learning. The deeper learning came when we were in the woods of Slovenia a few days later, when Narayan and I shared our respective experiences. Out of curiosity, I asked many questions that I never asked before. How did they meet? How did they decide to be together? And how did they break up? He answered all my questions, shared stories, and while listening, instead of feeling jealous like a jealous girlfriend would, I felt there was more understanding, more trust, and more intimacy in our relationship.
This experience prompted me to dig deeper. Why the heck was I a jealous girlfriend for as long as I can remember, after all?
I think it all boils down to the lack of sense of security. I wanted to feel secure, but I had no idea how, so I held on to others who might be able to provide me with that. But the truth is, no one could give me the sense of security no matter what they did for me.
Security only originates from within.
Why are we conditioned to treat our partner’s ex-girlfriends or ex-boyfriends as enemies? Because we feel inferior, scared, and we project our negative feelings onto others. If there was someone on the outside to blame, we wouldn’t have to look at ourselves. But it has everything to do with our mind, and the wounds that need to be healed.
The elders in my family value boys over girls, as all other traditional Chinese families do. I still remember when I was just a little girl, one day I opened the fridge and saw an apple. I took it, and what happened next was I was scolded by my grandma. “The apple is for your brother, not you.”
Not me. Until this point, all my life I had felt unworthy of love. It’s as if simply being myself was a mistake. I thought I had to prove my worth again and again, succeeding in every task, just so I would be loved and acknowledged by others – and ultimately, by myself.
I had no emotional security in life. I thought I had to be good enough for someone to care about me, but the paradox was that no matter how hard I tried, I didn’t really believe I could ever be good enough. I was on autopilot until recent years when I started practicing meditation to understand why I think the way I do, and finally started to heal from this unhealthy story I had been telling myself.
Narayan has been my pillar of strength in this journey of healing.
When you’re in a healthy relationship, you don’t avoid talking about each other’s past. If you’re in a relationship to help each other grow, through sharing about the past, we understand more about the present, and can create the future together. We chose to share this precious experience in Austria together because we trusted each other, and we wanted to explore different sides of us and ourselves.
If it was a few years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to summon the courage to meet an ex-girlfriend. Isn’t the Universe wonderful? Everytime I’m ready for the next level of growth, life automatically presents me a perfect opportunity. If I had listened to my ego and stayed in my comfort zone, I wouldn’t have been able to transform. I’m happy I listened to the call of my heart instead.
And don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying every person should meet an ex-girlfriend or ex-boyfriend of their partner. I’m simply saying after some self-reflection, I’ve decided to share about my own experience and invite those who are ready to look at their energetic blockages like I did.
We came to Austria to attend a wedding and celebrate love, and we left with lots of gratitude, appreciation for ourselves, and a sense of a deeper connection to each other.
Special thanks to Anita, her family, Aiko, David, and every one who’s also on a journey of getting closer to who they really are.