‘Tis the season, it seems, to get long, conciliatory messages from exes you’d almost forgotten existed.
That sounded colder than I meant it to. What I mean is that the memories are parked further back in my mind the way all memories used to be parked in the days before social media. The days before you lost touch with someone but still saw pictures of them holding their new born baby in a hospital gown.
It’s a strange thing to be allowed into such intimate spaces of people you no longer see or even perhaps never knew all that well, you just clicked to accept their “friendship”. Suddenly you read long posts about their mental health and the death of their parent. You see their political rants but if you bump into them at a party or on the bus, it’s not the done thing thing to bring up any of these intimate things you know about them, things they themselves put onto a public forum.
I’ve always had a policy of never following ANYONE I’m dating on social media so I never hear their news nor do I ever look them up. I want to get to know them from scratch and also, and, frankly, more honestly, there are certain days in the month when I am more likely to huff “You’ve liked THREE of her bikini pictures! I don’t CARE if she’s your sister!” than others. So, I prefer to keep lovers out of my electronic space and let them post and “like” whatever they want on their social media, wherever I happen to be in my monthly cycle.
Because of my rule, I don’t get the life updates of my exes after we split up. They, and everything we did together, become faded photos in my mind. Before social media, finding someone again and getting in touch was a bigger deal. It wasn’t something easy to do in an idle moment of curiosity or, perhaps, emotional scab picking. You wrote a letter or postcards, with full sentences and paragraphs with news and questions. It was contact, bad or good, to react to and absorb with more than a “wave” or an emoji.
So, because they are not on my social media, the messages that three of my exes sent me this Christmas brought the jolt of (pleasant) surprise that missives out of the blue used to bring. All were kind, sweet and healing. But, of course, I haven’t yet replied to any of them. Having written such messages myself in the past, I know that they are not meant to reignite contact, they’re kisses blown to say all is well and all is forgiven without a need for a kiss back. Just because you want an ex to know you are no longer hurt, or that you think of them fondly, it doesn’t mean you want to now meet for lunch or tell them your weekend plans. It’s just nice to know they are out there somewhere, not sticking pins in an effigy of you.
No matter how diligently we drown Christmas in glitter and hyper-consumerism, it’s remains the time of the year when we are relaxed and face memories and emotions that we can more easily bury throughout the year as we go to work, pay the bills, and put the bins out. For most of us, none of these things are required at Christmas and in creeps nostalgia for lovers we once shared our life with, but now no longer remember how they take their tea.
I have, mostly, been out with kind and funny men so it’s lovely when my exes get in touch. There are some murky ones too, of course. There is only one that I would say was a proper rotter, only one who has blocked me on Twitter and just one who wouldn’t have been around nearly as long had I clue what “gaslighting” meant back in my early thirties.
The length of ex-boyfriends list will tell you that I’m either very good at relationships, or very bad at them, depending on whether you are a glass full or half empty kind of person.
Every relationship, no matter how powerful the meeting of the minds, how lovely the sex and how pretty their eyes, ends up arguing about whose turn it is to take the bins out and frankly, that’s energy I’d rather put into something else. Like listening to the new songs my daughter has made up or hanging out with my son. He is 12 so my days of him WANTING to hang out with me are numbered – so relationships can wait.
I’ll have my next relationship when my children have grown and I can date someone I’ve met on a bee-keeping course. In the meantime, I’ll take my own bins out and every Christmas look forward to messages from exes telling me how wonderful I am and I’ll desperately try to remember if they took one lump or two.