Sunday, 5 October 2014

Hello, Smiler

I logged onto Facebook today and the first item on my timeline was a photo of a happy couple in southern Italy. Matching smiles, radiant, ebullient... drunk with happiness. I could practically feel the sunshine.

One of them is my ex.

TD got engaged. I don't know how I'm meant to feel about this. Throughout all the years, from the time I left her house in Oxford and started walking to the station in floods of tears to the sad, slow journey home, I didn't know what to think, what to feel, where to go. Then came the uncertain years: the long periods of unemployment, going back into education, a turbulent LDR with a tragic end that made me feel even more uncertain. All that happened in between - Eroticon, the new friendships in their droves, the connections and re-connections, the downward spirals and the upward highs, and the moving between houses and locations in too short a period of time.

It all happened, from then to now, all with her in the back of my mind, faded like a faint, uneasy smudge of a mistake. Not gone. Just resting there.

It's my fault, I know. My brain just won't let go. So many memories of terrible things, things that made me feel bad, painful, worthless. But then there are the good things too - and so many of those. I was there for the results of her finals and both graduations. I was there for her brother's 21st. I was even there for the start of her PhD. We had holidays. We had laughter. For a while, the pretty girl smiling in the photos was with me.

Skip forward four years and the world has moved on. I'm in my relationship; she's in hers. I've seen my cousin, my weightlifting friend, my friend-who-is-a-nurse and Robinson get married. Lady P got married too. Next year it's 47. It happens - people get engaged; they get married. In fact, in a way, I was waiting for this. I didn't know how I'd react, but I was waiting for it.

A small moan escaped from my mouth. I don't know why. Was I pleased, confused, shocked, scared or disappointed? I've no idea. I don't know why it should affect me so. But it does.

Wise people tell me I should move on. But I think we should keep hold of our memories. I don't have much of a choice, anyway, the way my brain works. I think it's important to learn from history. People have been learning from history for centuries and to stop doing so would be, frankly, idiotic. But what have I learned from all this? I don't even know what I'm finding so difficult.

I don't want to move on - I can't just abandon things in the past and leave it all behind. I want to move forward; go on to other adventures and pastures new. At the moment I'm in the doldrums, trying but not moving much. And when you're not moving forward it's all too easy to look to the past.

So now TD has her own future to look forward to. I just won't be part of it.

But then I knew that already.





Girl on the Net said...

I think it's completely natural and expected to have feelings like this. It's really *really* bloody hard to shout 'hooray!' when you see exes getting engaged/married/having babies etc. I struggle with similar things (and, actually, a couple of huge dollops of lust) when I see certain ex-boyfriends. It doesn't necessarily mean I resent their happiness - I want them to be happy - but I also get that nostalgic wave of sadness for the awesome things we did, and were, and the fact that we won't be those things again.

I'm waffling here but basically I just wanted to say: I'm with you, it's hard. And I think the fact that it's hard is testament to the fact that your time together was well spent - even though there are better things in your future.

Innocent Loverboy said...

*hugs GOTN*

Thank Glod you understand. I was fearing a lot of kneejerk reactions to this post - people telling me that it's none of my business or that I'm being unreasonable or not making any sense.

But you basically summarised how I'm feeling in one short paragraph - and gave a reason, too, which also makes sense. And that helps - a lot.

Sati said...

Platitudes and advice like "move on" or "you're in a better place now" are just things people say when they don't know what to say, because we're socially conditioned to think that pain is a bad thing that we need to get over as soon as possible.

Sometimes pain is just an indicator that you had strong emotions, that you really felt things for someone. It hurts when someone leaves your life, even when you have someone else (even someone better!). One person does not replace another. And an engagement, or a marriage, or a baby, are all reminders that this person is no longer a big part of you, and in some ways it feels like being left all over again. Even if it was a mutual split, even if you were the one who did the leaving, changes can sting.

It's ok to not feel ok right now. That's a simple truth that a lot of people find hard to accept. We like to try and cheer people up, to stop them hurting. But it's ok to hurt a bit, for a while. If you're feeling like this constantly for months or years, then it's time to worry, but in the short term, you're ok. You've got this.


Innocent Loverboy said...

If you're feeling like this constantly for months or years, then it's time to worry, but in the short term, you're ok. You've got this.

I hope so.

I often have a lot of trouble moving on, and in many ways - realistically quite a lot of ways - I'm still getting over the end of this relationship, never mind anything else that happened after it (and also things that happened during it; there was a bit that hurt there as well).

But I can't change my brain or the way it works. I do a lot of thinking with my heart, but my brain will automatically inject a painful memory at the most inopportune of times - even ones that I wasn't aware I still had - and this relationship is where most of those come from, really.

May take me a long time to get over. But I'm expecting that. I don't get such an easy ride.

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