For some reason, I have been thinking about my exes a lot. For the past few weeks every time I turn around something reminds me of the past and those significant people who shared it with me. Songs on the radio, movies, news articles, conversations with newer friends who never even knew my old SO's - everything, it seems, is tied to someone in my history somehow.
If it were some sort of special day, I might understand it a bit, but I can't think of any reason calendar-wise that old flames should be lighting up my brain this way. No anniversary, birthday, or special event is especially memorable around this time of year. None of my previous partners have contacted me again, and no mutual friends have mentioned them. I really don't know what set it off, but for the past month, my mind has been going over and over my high school days and the time shortly after that, before I met DH. Now, I don't want to imply, even for a minute, that I am less than 100% satisfied with the love of my life right now. I love him more today than I did yesterday, and yesterday I didn't even think that was possible. I have a funny feeling, I'll be even more in love tomorrow, and the day after that.
In spite of my intoxicating love for my husband, my mind has been straying back to Old Times and I'm starting to feel a bit odd about it. Because of the bad weather, DH and I have been in very close quarters all week. He has been working from home, and I spend most of my day in the office, with him, working on my crafts. I love having him close to chit chat all day long. Whenever he isn't taking a customers' call or engrossed in work, we talk to each other about whatever we are doing or whatever is on our minds throughout the day. We bounce ideas and opinions off each other about crafts or the kids or politics or the weather...whatever. Since I don't get much time around other adults other than family, I enjoy having a grown-up around to participate in intelligent conversation. I know he enjoys having distraction from work when he isn't dealing with customers.
Some couples get on each others nerves being that close all day every day, but DH and I have a special relationship in the fact that when we met, we worked together and shortly after that, we became room mates, AND worked together, and went to lunch together every day. Even after we were married, we managed to make daily lunch together a routine. Since we moved to The Country, we have actually spent less time together than we have ever in our relationship. I hate when he isn't home and I have enjoyed this past week tremendously.
It has always been part of our relationship to talk like this all the time. We don't have any taboo subjects that we avoid, including exes. I am, and always have been, open with him and he has always been the same. We both feel that the past is history and history is important. Ignoring or denying a part of your past is denying a part of who you are. It is perfectly reasonable for anyone to remember their past loves (and disasters) occasionally, and if they come up in conversation, that's fine, too. I have begun feeling a bit awkward, though, when EVERY thought that seems to cross my mind has to do with someone who is an ex.
It started a few months ago.Out of the blue I had a dream about my first love, M. It was one of those very vivid and extremely memorable dreams that keeps popping back in your head for days afterward. The dream itself wasn't all that significant, but the fact that it was about M, was, considering I haven't spoken to or about him in a very long time. He was still a significant part of my life for quite a while though. We were together nearly four years starting in junior high and most of the way through high school. When we met, we went to the same school, but after a year I moved 40 miles further away. We still talked every day and spent nearly every weekend together but I never knew any of his friends and he never got along with any of mine. Most of my high school life revolved around him, to the exclusion of nearly everyone else. Part of me feels I wasted the best part of those years by being at his beck and call.
Eventually, I think he needed someone deeper and more tortured than I was. I needed someone who was actually faithful and didn't act ashamed to be seen with me in public. I found out he was secretly seeing someone else - someone who was actually living in my house for a short while - so, I caught him in the act and broke up with him. Thinking back, I can't believe I put up with as much as I did for as long as I did, but I was In Love and that makes things different. It wasn't all terrible. I did like him for a good reason and he was a very interesting person, as well as a stellar musician. The longer we were together, though, the less things were about us and the more they became about M. Part of me thinks that I was more afraid of living life without the constant that M had become, than I was offended by the crap he occasionally put me through. Really, he wasn't a horrible guy, just rather self-centered. I used to tend to morph into a different type of person depending whom I was with at the time. When I was with him, he loved himself and so did I. It just became the norm that I would give and he would take. I learned a lot from him, and to this day I still consider him one of the most important people from that time of my life. Thankfully, though, it didn't take me long to realized after her was gone, that I was a better person without him. I am sure we both have a much happier life now than we would have ever had together.
The strange part about M, is that the threads of our lives have intersected quite a few times since then. He has a son the same age as LH and when I bought our first house, it ended up being about six blocks away from the house he and his wife lived in. That is extremely odd because neither of us had ever lived in that town before. For the next several years I ran into him at the grocery store, pharmacy, even church and neighborhood events. Our kids actually have the same birthday, so whenever LH hits another milestone, I can't help but wonder, is his boy going through similar things? There are actually several coincidences between our kids that are just too bizarre to even get into. (I'm kind of afraid that if LH and his boy ever actually meet it will cause a rift in the time/space continuum.) Since we moved to The Country I haven't seen or heard of him, so that is why it was so odd to suddenly have this vivid dream about him. Did it mean something? Should I track him down and see if he and his family is ok? Is it just plain bizarre to have this fascination with some family that I've really never met?
I tried to put it out of my mind, but I can never think about M without remembering my second most important ex, so it makes for a weird sort of spiral of thought. A few weeks ago when I first started learning how to bead loom, I tuned into my favorite online music provider - Pandora.com - and the station I kept going back to, day after day, was the Erasure/INXS/Depeche Mode/Pet Shop Boys station. I had just managed to put M out of my mind, when The Cure came on and I remembered seeing them live with M. Then I remembered all the other live music I saw back then and my mind turned to J. This music, specifically Depeche Mode and Erasure, always reminds me of the summer before my Senior year that I spent with my best-friend-turned-lover J. We spent nearly all day every day together working, going to PSAT prep summer school, and going to concerts as often as we could. Music was a part of life for us. Either Erasure or Sarah McLaughlan was almost always playing in the car. I can clearly remember sitting by dock at the park while the radio in J's car played and we stayed up to watch the sunrise.
I met J the first day of high school and J was the only friend who put up with the ridiculous nonsense that M put me through. No matter what happened, J was always there, by my side. I have a lot of regrets about how J and I broke up. Our relationship was kind of hush-hush by nature, and I was tired of living life feeling as if I had a reason to be ashamed. I was ready to move on, but I wasn't honest or straightforward about it. I left, but instead of just coming out and saying it, I tried the let-em-down-easy approach. All it did was cause broken hearts and hurt feelings. We had been together as a couple for about a year when I started seeing someone else and instead of just breaking up, I casually let J find out.
Yeah, I was a bitch. I did to J what M did to me. I don't believe J ever forgave me. Trust me though, I paid the price for it. Karma will get you in the end, every time. The person I left J for was just about as wrong as you can get. E was a much older manager at the burger joint I worked at. After five years of feeling like I was someones dirty little secret, I was dazzled by the person who wanted to show me off like a trophy. Roses, expensive dinners, parties with his friends, nice gifts - I felt like I was the star of a show. My mind was clouded by the whirlwind and I had no clue just what kind of a person E truly was. It was only a few months before he asked me to move in with him. I was ready to be a grown-up and get out of my parents' house, so I agreed. Shortly after that, he proposed and insisted on a very short engagement. Again, I was so amazed and flattered that someone more experienced thought I was worth all this, that I completely ignored all the warning signs.
When I say "experienced", I mean divorced with two kids and a crazy ex-wife. When I say "warning signs, of course, I mean every thing that anyone who has ever been in an abusive relationship will tell you to look for - insane temper and crazy fights (followed by extravagant gifts to apologize and make-up); whirlwind relationship that takes off way too fast (with insistence that you settle down together even faster); history of hitting a spouse (although it was the other person's fault); communication with family and friends limited (or even denied); casual remarks that are personally degrading (but are phrased as compliments); disrespect and poor relationship with most other women (and especially their own mother.) I missed becoming a statistic of domestic abuse my a very thin margin.
I think we were together a total of four months when I had a moment of clarity during a fight over something so stupid I can't even recall. We were about six months away from the wedding date and he had been pushing me to move it up so we could get hitched faster. I think we were actually arguing about something the priest said when we went to schedule the pre-wedding classes. While the priest interviewed us separately he asked us questions about each other and I interpreted a question differently than E did. Suddenly I was being accused of lying and making him look bad and jeopardizing our chance to get married in the church. He was so enraged, I threatened to pack my stuff and leave. As I started to gather some things he backed me into the closet and blocked the door as he continued to yell at me. Suddenly, I saw everything very clearly - he was backing me into a wall (using my fear of small spaces against me), he was raising his hands over his head while he was yelling at me (making me feel even more threatened), everything was my fault (and it always was), I hadn't seen or talked to my family in two months. I realized E was a serial abuser and I was about to become his next victim. Thank God for giving me that moment of insight, because it gave me the ability to think clearly enough to diffuse the situation and get him to calm down. The next day I packed my stuff while he was at work and had my dad come to pick me up and I never went back.
E left such an mark on me that it was quite awhile before I was able to get emotionally close to anyone. I was pretty big wreck. I dated a few others after E, but I was careful to keep my distance in every way I could. It wasn't until I met DH that my heart truly opened up to anyone else. That is a whole different story for another day, but I will say that God brought DH into my life at just the right time. Things have not always been a bed of roses for us, but the trials and tribulations of our past has made the thorns of life much easier bear.
Maybe by getting all of this down and sent out to The Universe, I will be able to close these chapters of my life and move on. I have no desire to revisit or replay these phantoms from my past so hopefully this will serve as the final exit interview and these ghosts can be evicted for good. I know I will always remember these people as part of my life. It's only that I want to remember them in passing as a memory, instead of as something or someone that still affects emotions in my mind as strongly as they did 15 years ago.
Goodbye M, J, and E. May your children grow up to be strong and healthy and bring you joy. May your future love not be restrained by your past pain. May you learn love and respect instead of fear and intimidation. Will you all stop hanging around my brain now?