My most recent break-up was not pretty.
To make a long story short, an airline pilot, Air Force Reserves meteorologist, and self-proclaimed “loving family guy” decided to create a profile on OkCupid where we met, fell for one another, and started a relationship. Things didn’t go so well, however, when I conducted a Google search and found out that he had lied about his name to cover up his pregnant wife of nearly 10 years and 4-year old son. Things went even worse when I sent his wife a few texts and let her know I was dating her husband. She immediately took his phone away from him, but I wanted answers, so I contacted him via email. We kept in contact, I offered forgiveness, and we ended up corresponding regularly and having inappropriate Skype conversations. At some point in time, the dynamics of our relationship changed. I would become irritated when I saw he had tweeted but not replied to our long-standing email chain. I told him I couldn’t do it anymore, emailed his wife to reveal to her we had secretly kept in contact, and tried to cease correspondence with him, but I couldn’t. Something about this guy had really gotten under my skin.
My camera roll is filled with pictures of him. His texts and emails flood my inbox. And until he decided to protect his tweets, I could follow his mundane updates there, too.
I realized I was going through the first four stages of loss (denial, anger, bargaining, and depression) over and over again. The fifth and final stage of grief (acceptance) seemed elusive, constantly out of reach.
There used to be a time when you could burn the pictures and letters. You could even move to Tennessee to avoid your exes in Texas. But now? Shy of going completely off of the grid, avoiding an ex has grown increasingly difficult.
From Facebook posts to Twitter feeds, Instagram pictures to blog posts, and old emails to that final text conversation, we continually put ourselves through the first four stages of loss, never quite gaining the acceptance that the person we cared about so deeply is gone. We re-read those messages, convincing ourselves that it’s not over.
Why? As humans, we desire that special, intimate connection. Whether it’s because your parents have been role models who daily demonstrate unconditional love or because you watched one too many Hollywood chick flicks, that desire drives us.
Everyone is deserving of their time to grieve. Losing someone you care about, are friends with, and love- whether for years, months, weeks, or just a few days- is never easy. There is a place in your heart that is vacant. We try to use emails and tweets and pictures to fill that place. But that person is still gone.
With the help of family, friends, and time, wounds can be healed.
For me? I needed a dose of brutal honesty. My last ex moved on the moment I called him out to his wife. He always had his wife and son to go home to. I was just another rift in their relationship. And all of the times I thought I was maintaining a friendship I was just prolonging my own bargaining and depression instead of accepting the truth.
So the truth is, for this generation and all those to come, our exes will always live in texts. Because, just like your life goes on after that person (no matter how miserable you may feel at first), that person’s life goes on after you, too.
Keep holding on. Together we will make it through.