An Ex has an uncanny way of showing up just when you feel least prepared to see them. Often with a new human appendage designed to hit you worse. It’s Diabolus Ex Machina. A friend asked me,
Have you ever felt bad on coming across photos of an ex (who you’re supposed to have wiped out from your memory etc and moved on) romancing another person? I know I don’t want him anymore, but it just sucks all the same.
In response, I mailed her this. And this post is for her…and the women who’ve felt this (and umm..some men too).
There are many reasons to want a clean break from the past and I’ve enumerated them before. But the real reason I don’t recycle boyfriends as boyfriends again or even friends is because – plain and simple – they make me feel bad about myself. This is probably a feature unique to my sex but like a lot of women I know, ending a relationship makes me feel like I failed in something. Failed to be a good girlfriend, failed to make him love me, failed to make the right decision. Failed, failed, FAILED. Meeting the person again is like being reminded, that no matter how successful you might become otherwise, there is always that time that you failed. And badly, always.
I hate women who tell me what great pals they are with their ex-es and the whole ‘no hard feelings’ bit. (And the cat in me purrs…that’s because they weren’t hard in the first place, dahling. Miaow!). On the surface that occurs to me as being…just wrong. And deep down, I’m also envious, wondering just how they manage it. If you don’t feel bad about not having the person in your life in that way anymore if you don’t miss the way things were…were they really that good? Odd it strikes me now, that I judge the depth of my love for a man on how much I can hate him later. How bad he makes me feel now is a direct indicator of how good he made me feel back then. How can you not miss the great times that once were and feel a very, very aching emptiness in knowing they never will be the same again?
What’s worse is the fact that the men never seem to have that issue. It makes me feel worse than ever, knowing that I just want to run and hide when I see them, I’m dying a thousand deaths with blood zinging into my brain suddenly instead of coursing down my veins normally, I’m worrying myself silly that I’ll say the wrong thing…..and he’s sitting just cool as ever in front of me, talking about the woman (or women) he’s had around lately.
And what of the person they’re with now? That’s a double-edged sword. True to my obsessive self, I once transitioned my deep resentment of an ex to the other woman in his life. I never met her but I’d heard so much about her that in my mind she became this paragon of perfection – beautiful, intelligent, successful, dignified, popular. While inside my head I just shrunk further and further like Alice eating the wrong bit of the mushroom. It was crazy.
A woman has the capacity to make another woman feel much worse than any man ever can. On the other hand, by then it isn’t about the man anymore. Use the sword to get the thorn out. Years later, I know there’s very little chance I’ll ever bump into her. Higher the probability though, that I’ll meet him and I’m prepared. The thorn is out of my system even if the sword-gashes remain. And if she and I have to cross paths, well, that’s another war altogether.
The real bitch is if they come together (as it happened in my Encounter). Just saw an episode of SATC….quite appropriately the one where Carrie Bradshaw is faced with the marriage announcement of Big to Natasha. She’s quiet, then she calls for fries and she tells her friends that she’s okay. Back home, she faces it and finally, she puts her head down and cries. I know, I know. A lot of us do, dear friend of mine. Breathe, like I said…just remember to breathe.