In her Words
When past relationships should stay in the past
Don’t tell me you haven’t done it.
Placed those fingers on the computer keys, heart racing, and typed:
You’ve googled your ex.
It even sounds salacious, doesn’t it?
At some point, don’t we all wonder, whether we loved them, hated them, broke their hearts or had ours broken, what he’s been up to? Wondered how many kids he has? Wondered if he’s thought of you? And come on, if you haven’t thought, “I wonder if his wife is fat?” then you should stop reading this now, because clearly, you are too good of a person to be googling your ex.
I, however, am not.
So, you’ve googled an ex, maybe you found his e-mail address, and maybe your stomach churns a little with the wonder of it all. I know where he is. Maybe the thought that you can drive by his house, check to see if there’s a Big Wheel or a dolly stroller in the driveway excites you a little bit? You could do that, right? That wouldn’t be illegal or anything, would it?
So, one day, maybe, you’re mad at your husband, and you say “screw it” and then e-mail the ex.
And then, three days later, you get a message back from him.
And you kind of freak, but you’re also kind of excited, in that “He asked me to prom, but I know he smokes pot” kind of excitement, like you want to go to prom with him, but you know it would be bad news.
Because you’ve just had your third kid, and you’re feeling kind of frumpy and you’re postpartum, but you e-mail back: “Hey there! I’m totally great! Happily married with three beautiful, healthy kids! How are you?”
The e-mail dance continues. You’re getting to the point where the dance chaperones would come and hold a ruler between the two of you, to make sure the distance was safe. It’s getting unsafe at this e-mail dance. And the songs are the songs from back then. You know them. I don’t need to tell you what songs they are. We all have them. The ones that make us remember those moments.
At home, you smile more. You’re showering more, yelling less at the kids. You’re feeling attractive, feeling like you’ve got a little adventure in your boring, stay-at-home life. You feel like there’s something more than changing two babies’ diapers, and training the third one to use the potty. You’re looking forward to those smiley-face emoticons he pings at you.
In his e-mails, he starts dancing slower, closer. He tells you about his wife and how much she nags. How she doesn’t take care of her appearance. He begins recalling the night the two of you…
Ah, the memories. What it was like to be 20 years old. Twenty and carefree. You remember it all. You remember the then. But then… you remember the now.
Your three beautiful children, your adoring husband, your great life. How lucky you are to be able to be home, to be the one changing the diapers and reading books to your oldest as he sits on the potty. To be with the family you created with the husband you love and adore. The one you used to crave like you used to crave the ex.
Not then. Now.
Because then was then. It wasn’t a Nothing. But Now is a Something. A real Something. And you know that.
So, the next time you log on, you do something so out of character that you’ll have some serious explaining to do. You log on, and then you go to your provider’s home page and you close out your e-mail account. You make sure the ex won’t be able to get in touch with you again.
You no longer exist to him. You no longer existed to him the day you said your good-byes, however many years ago it was. No matter who said it first, no matter who did the breaking, you dissolved. And you can’t reinvent something that wasn’t real in the first place.