I was trying to come up with a subject for this week’s post when I was struck by inspiration from a very unusual source. I opened my dashboard Monday morning after a weekend at work and found to my surprise a message from an old face in my comments. My ex.
Initially I was shocked, it’s been years and it was the last thing I expected to see when logging in. I read the comment and it sounded friendly and open. A little message telling me he was glad I was clearly doing so well and using a past nickname to make sure I knew who he was.
I felt such a strange combination of emotions on seeing this message it quite took me off my feet. He had been an important part of my life for such a long time. Now here we were years later, and he was leaving messages on my site as a stranger. Nowhere in life is the fluidity of emotion so obvious than when dealing with an ex.
I used to have a very straight forward way of dealing with ex’s. In my head they were an ex for a reason and that meant they remained in my past. However, for me 2018 seems to be shaping up to be the year of the ex. This isn’t the first one to reach out to me this year.
I feel a little like I missed a memo, sent straight into my past and suddenly emotional ties I’d long severed are being wrenched from the back of my memory closet. I’m trying to deal with this like a grown up. Try not to dwell on the past indiscretions which may have led to this relationship hitting the rocks. After all we are both different people now.
I spent some time reflecting on the message, the few lines were so warm and genuine. I wondered how he had come to find the site, what his feelings were when he found it. Did he feel as strange as I did on seeing his message? It occurred to me I wasn’t sure I’d have left a message. I’d have felt like I was opening Pandora’s Box. Perhaps it was brave.
Without giving it too much thought I clicked on the email address and replied. Just a few lines asking if it was really him, telling him how surprised I was and hoped he was ok. I hit send and sat there with my phone in my hand. Potentially this was a very silly thing I’d just done. I’d broken my own rule. Never look backwards, only forwards.
I hadn’t had much time to consider the implications before my phone pinged and I’d got a reply. And so, began the most surreal conversation possibly of my life. Exchanging pleasantries with someone that once tore my heart to shreds. Trying to ignore the huge elephant in the proverbial room.
The Ex Factor
I once had a conversation with someone who is now, also an ex. About how one day we might find ourselves stood in a mutual place and make eye contact as strangers. And how all the connection, emotion and love we shared would come down to a sick feeling in the pit of our stomachs. How would it feel to see him as a stranger? Would we have changed? It’s without doubt one of the worst feelings in the world.
Some people remain in their ex’s lives. Smoothly moving from partner to friends with little to no animosity. I admire this but know I lack the maturity. Especially if I’ve been hurt. I don’t have the strength of character to wish someone well if they’ve put me through the emotional wringer. In fact, I’m regularly heard wishing my ex would fall down a well. Unless you have children with someone in which case you must put their needs before your own feelings. Otherwise I don’t see any reason to keep that person in your life once the relationship dies.
Rose Tinted Glasses
And yet… here I am still emailing my ex. Laughing over in-jokes from another lifetime. Remembering secrets shared and fond memories of a relationship I’m probably viewing through rose tinted glasses. And with each message he feels more like him and less like the stranger that left the message on the site. It’s nice to know he’s ok. It’s good to know he’s turned himself around and is doing well. I can’t help but feel affection for this man, given all the shared history, all the water under the bridge. It’s hard not to remember with some irony that he once told me that no matter what we would always find our way back into each other’s lives.
It’s easy to feel comfortable with an ex, there is no guess work involved. You already know this person intimately, know exactly what they like and dislike. There’s no need to establish boundaries or tackle tricky fetishes or kinks, they know. They’ve explored them with you. You already know the sex will be hot, and what the flash points are for a row. I can see the attraction.
However, I’ve always felt reconnection with an ex is like slipping back into a bad habit. It feels good at first, you get that familiar buzz. But eventually you remember how toxic it was and why you gave it up in the first place. These are rules I’ve lived by my whole life and I know there’s a reason my common sense applied them in the first place. Now if you’ll excuse me, my phone just pinged…