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Why Running Into Your Ex Can Be The Best Thing Ever

Before you let an ex-sighting freak you out, read why it could be a blessing in disguise.

Love & Relationships

Life is a funny thing. A few weeks back, when the whole story about a Charlotte-based beat-master being discovered by Meek Mill went viral, I smiled. For a few reasons, actually. First, it was another reminder of how your passion will pave a way, oftentimes in ways (and at times) that you never would predict. Second, it was also a reminder of the power of social media. One tweet, by a guy who had 10,000 followers at that time, caused not only Meek to find Trizzy but Billboard, BuzzFeed, The Jasmine Brand and so many other publications picked it up, that it really is too many to count. The third reason why I found the story to be pretty dope is because the co-producer of the song that Trizzy sampled—"In My Mind" by Heather Headley—was created by a friend of mine, SHANNON SANDERS, an award-winning producer who recorded the original, original version 20 years ago this year (check it out here; it's pretty dope too!).

Now watch how all of these dots connect, because they do. With all of the hype that surrounded the song, I went back and watched the visual for the Heather Headley version of "In My Mind". For one thing, the song is still bangin' all these years later and two, honestly, for nostalgia's sake. It took me back to late 2006 and having a breakfast meeting with SHANNON. I had mentioned to him that I had a book that came out two years prior and, because India.Arie wrote the foreword for it and he was her musical director at the time, he wanted a copy. After checking out the first couple of chapters, being the big brother to me that he is, he teased, "Who was this guy you were all in love with?" After providing a few details, he said, "You mean...[so-and-so]?!" (I'm leaving the name out on purpose.) "I've done some work before with him. He's a cool brotha." Lord, how small can the world be?!

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Ever since SHANNON found out that my first love was a former creative client of his, whenever I would see him, SHANNON would sing the chorus to "In My Mind" (see how all of that came full circle?). And you know what? Until I ended up running into my ex, a whopping nine years later, that song made me believe that it was gonna play out a lot like the lyrics did—having a difficult time seeing him with another woman, running into one of his relatives and it choking me all up, feeling like no matter what was going on, I would always consider myself to be his lady.

Boy, music can have you out here creating all kinds of scenarios that aren't even close to reality. That's how powerful it is.

But here's the thing. When I actually did run into my ex—randomly at a Kroger's and yes, he was with a woman—while I was in complete shock and, because he was my first love, there was a bit of a "jump" in my heart and stomach. I didn't feel what Heather—or SHANNON, for that matter—sang about. He has always been fine, but it wasn't the kind of fine that I recalled or was even super drawn to; he had changed some. The woman he was with caused me to SMH, but not because he was with her; it was because he's never not with a woman (that was a part of the problem that we had in the first place). One of his cousins lives in the same area that I do, so I tend to run into him every few months or so. He always says something slick about me and my ex being destined for one another.

Ironically, the last time he said something along those lines, it was while running into him at the same grocery store, on my ex's birthday. My casual response was, "Tell him 'Happy Birthday' and that it's probably time to settle down and get a wife." And by "wife", I did not mean me.

So again, while both versions of "In My Mind" claps, bumps and does whatever word the younger-than-the-millennials would use, running into my ex actually did not bring forth the experience that that song speaks of.

Hmph. Come to think of it, none of my run-ins with exes have. I remember running into an ex at a church function, chatting it up for a bit and thinking to myself, "Wow. We have nothing in common anymore." I ran into another one and asked myself, "Did you always look this way?" because I didn't feel one ounce of attraction. Not one. Then there's the ex that I saw at the mall who totally made my stomach turn because, even though he was with his wife and one of his children, as I walked past him, he found a way to wink at me while his spouse wasn't looking. Then there's the one who, when we first ended our situationship, I was mad at both him and God (not necessarily in that order either), but when we met up to discuss what happened and where things stand now, I realized that, no matter how much I loved him, I had been spared—and then some.

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And all of those instances got me to thinking about what a lot of women used to write and tell me back when I was running a single woman's blog. That out of all of the things that they dread happening to them, they'd rather get a pap smear, see their dentist or work an 70-hour work week than run into an ex of theirs; especially one who they really cared about or one where the break-up was hard or even devastating. If that's you, I hear ya, loud and clear. Still, unless ole' boy was abusive or a stalker, I'm actually hoping that you do because, from my personal experience, that can play a significant role in the healing/closure/full resolve process.

I'll use the ex that I saw at a church function as an example. When we broke up, it was pretty difficult for the both of us. So difficult, in fact, that I was quietly hoping that we could avoid each other forever because, while the relationship had definitely run its course and needed to end, there was a part of me that thought that seeing him would still be painful. If I had only processed all of this in hypotheticals, a part of me would have remained stuck. Not so stuck that I couldn't date someone else but stuck in the sense that a part of my heart would've still had a bit of an unhealed wound on it.

I didn't actually know how healed I was until we locked eyes, then walked up to one another, then awkwardly hugged it out and then tried to hold a conversation for 15 minutes or so. It was then when I was like, "Wow, that season is truly over and yes, I am really over you." Before running into him, I assumed that to be the case; actually seeing him is what confirmed that to be so.

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In the Classic Amplified Version of Scripture, there is a verse that says, "The lot is cast into the lap, but the decision is wholly of the Lord [even the events that seem accidental are really ordered by Him]." (Proverbs 16:33) It's a reminder that everything happens for more than a reason; there is a purpose to it. I mean, just think about all of the things that have to line up in the Universe in order for you to "run into" anyone who you don't have a daily dealings or intimate relationship with. And so, if you see your ex at a gas station, a concert, in a parking lot or anywhere else, don't take that to be random. Also, don't find a way to run from the situation either. This is a customized opportunity for you to look your past, that's all up in your present, directly in the face and figure out where you are with everything.

If you still need to heal, now you know that.

If you actually want him back, now you know that.

If you are truly over him, now you know that.

And as G.I. Joe used to say, "Knowing is half the battle." Now you can truly assess the next steps you need to take, instead of listening to Heather Headley on loop—or worse, totally avoiding the song altogether because it puts you in shambles every single time you hear it. Not only that, but another wonderful—yes, wonderful—perk of running into an ex is, once you do, you no longer have to fear doing it again. Although I'm not out here seeking out the exes of my past, I certainly have no issue seeing them, giving them at least a head nod and keeping it moving.

I now have total peace that what is done is done. "Running into them" helped to give me that.

So, if you do happen to run into your ex, don't run from the moment; embrace it. I promise you that if or when it happens, life is trying to teach you something. And, if you're open, that however-long-exchange between you and your past can get you ready for something that's about to go down in your future. "Ready" in a way that you truly didn't know that you needed to be.

You'll be able to hop into your car and play "In My Mind", either version, on full blast, and hear it as being a dope love song. Nothing more, nothing less. Because you now know, that you know, that you know that you are fully, totally and completely over your ex. Congrats!

Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:

How To Get Closure If Your Ex Won't Give It To You

Why Staying Friends With An Ex Is Okay (& Healthy)

How To Reclaim Your Time After A Bad Breakup

Have You Brought Ex Baggage Into Your New Relationship?

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