So, I have exes. And I have one incredible current boyfriend with whom I’d like to spend the rest of my life. And, for the most part, I’m fairly diligent about making sure that those two parts of my life don’t touch.
Compartmentalization, you say? Well, Dr. Freud. I’d like to think that you have something valuable to add here but I can’t hear you because you’re in that box way over there. The soundproof one. Deedle-dee, where was I?
It’s never easy talking about ex boyfriends with current boyfriends. It wasn’t before I started dating James, it still isn’t even though he’s the last boy I want to date. It’s the same as me not really wanting to know that his other semi-serious girlfriend’s name was Jennifer, and that all his friends met her. Like that.
Most of the time, if an ex pops up, I make polite banter and after two or three text messages, am reminded why I ceased dating him in the first place. If not, I mention James to them, which is a more forward way of reminding them that I’m not up for grabs anymore. It’s how the game is played now, now that the teams are clearly defined and I’m not looking to trade up.
James’ exes seem to be better concealed. They don’t really pop up in every day life as often as mine do. Perhaps they had more dramatic falling-outs. Perhaps they parted on good terms with total closure. Perhaps I’m really secretly his first girlfriend and he doesn’t want me to know (he knows 11 Jennifers, after all). I never bothered to ask. I don’t care.
That’s the deal you make when you move forward with your life after a breakup in your very-early-20s. You stop caring. You move on. You move forward. Life progresses.
You run, half-scared, half-hurt, until the yucky stuff can’t find you anymore. Most of the time, it doesn’t. It gives up. Three months later you bump into your ex in a public place, and he’s laying it on thick to some unsuspecting girl with half your IQ and twice your cup size. You consider warning her, but what’s the point? She’ll figure it out sooner or later, and she’ll be that much smarter for it.
The glitch is when you end a relationship and the stuff catches up with you. Hovers around you. Shuffles quietly by, clearing its throat in passing so that you’re made aware that it still exists. That perhaps you’d like to catch up?
And even if you don’t, really, you stop what you’re doing and turn your attention to it. It’s your past, afterall. It brought you to where you are. You can give it the time of day.
I was fumbling around Facebook earlier today and I found out that my ex, Drew, has cancer in his abdomen. It must have spread from an earlier bout that he had with it, a little over a year ago. From what I can make of my online research, he’s going through his first round of Chemotherapy as of yesterday, a 5-day process that has him hospitalized.
He and I didn’t end on great terms, and it would be inappropriate of me to call him up and ask how he’s doing. But his website is available to read here, and I suspect he’ll recount his experiences in a way that lends you new insight into the capability of a person committed to fighting for his life against the odds. Read his thoughts, leave him comments, keep him in your prayers.
Wish him well, even if only in your heart and only in passing. Even if he is on my list of Exes, he’s a fellow human being, being put to the ultimate test. So we won’t begrudge him anything.
I’ve learned that everything we suffer through makes us stronger. Everything is cyclic. Every time we push through something, we come out more resilient, more confident in who we are and what we’re capable of. What happened between Drew and I left me broken and confused. Working through that turned me into the girl who can look at James and see a man she loves wholly, and intends to feel that way about forever. Sometimes we have to wilt before we can bloom, right?
Who knows. Maybe the other side of this is the half of the rainbow that will reveal to him a pot of gold. I can only hope.