The past and his present

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 in making 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 to 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 furthur and furthur 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 is 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.

7 thoughts on “The past and his present

  1. It is very true that one can never remain “friends” with an ex. Simply coz it is a constant reminder of what happened and in spite of the good times you cannot get back with that person. The biggest blunder I see many people do is to say that they are friends immediately after a break-up. That’s absolute rubbish and its nothing more than appealing ur ego that you haven’t failed and give another chance.

    If the break up was messy then meeting your ex anywhere else later even after many years could be pretty painful. But then, if the break up was on cordial terms.. where you agreed to disagree (a paradox, but true) then a chance meeting or encounter with that person in the past, at least doesn’t leave you with a bad feeling.

    All said and done, one can never be friends with an ex however the breakup and the best way to ever get over a person is to find someone else. I know it sounds very harsh and brutal, but that’s the truth.

  2. Sometimes I wonder why does one feel like a failure? Is it dependent on who walked away from the relp?? I guess so…..To add to it one goes through much more to see the other person so cool abt it and pretend as if everything is so normal…or for that matter at times say things such as ” My best wishes are always with you..I hope you get the best in life..” why dont they get the message right? i.e. He/she was the best thing that happened to them…and whats the use of those wishes when all that the person wants is to be with you..

  3. Hmm. It still beats me, this whole ‘We were lovers once, but we still get along great’. That’s just so… spineless, even dead. If you were indeed lovers, and if you did, indeed, die when you realised it wasn’t meant to be, then there can be no circumstance where you would just settle for the whole cheap substitute of a bland ‘friendship’.

    When it’s over, it’s over. Chapter closed, end of thread.

    But that’s just me and my medieval values. Thanks for this post, I needed it.

  4. @ Adastrian: It is true and I don’t see anything wrong in it. I agree with everything you say.

    @ Shweta: Yes, to some extent. But if that’s the only case, we wouldn’t feel bad about relationships we walked away from, would we? And why don’t they understand? *Sigh* I wish I knew…

    @ Reshma: Your ‘medieval values’ are shared by a lot of us.

  5. Ideasmith — rest assured, men do face the same issue. We just don’t talk about it or openly let it show. Maybe because that’s supposed to be part of that code of masculinity I mentioned in my comment on your other post. Stiff upper lip and all that. I read somewhere that more often than not, it actually takes longer for guys to get over a break-up, because they don’t have the social/emotional support system [with other guys] that women share — and I know that to be very true in my case, at least. Even years after the end of my last long-term relationship, when I think I’m “over her”, coming across things that remind me of her is still painful (if I allow myself to dwell on the memories).

    “… women who tell me what great pals they are with their ex-es…”

    Completely agree with everything you said in that paragraph. There’s a song that goes — “I love you too much to ever start liking you / So don’t expect me to be your friend.” Hits the nail right on the head.

    Re. the snide remark from “the cat in you”: ROFL!!

    And (this is my last point, I swear πŸ™‚ ), re. the issue of failure: I avoid that trap by reminding myself of the real, rational reasons why the *relationship* failed (not I, or her). And thankfully, I’ve always had excellent communication with the women in my life, so I’ve known what those reasons were.

  6. I know that feeling – that Failed Feeling.
    Then I just shut all my senses and say “FUCK OFF” to his memory.
    Yeah, temporary relief, but relief nevertheless

  7. I agree on the whole we-are-friends-now thingy.. I know its not real, and yes if it is there, then it wasnt love inthe first place. It hurts/hates to be friends with the ex..
    But I dont quite agree with you about the failure part. Its not always our fault that the breakup happened.. the guy is just not worthy of us, and so it had to happen.
    But all the same, I would still not want to be friends with the guy. It would certainly remind of all the times we were together!
    I wouldnt mind to see him with another girl, probably!

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