TL;DR: No matter what my exes think of me, I think they’re pretty good people. I think we should strive to be friends with exes, not enemies.
For those of you who have been following the blog for a while, there’s been two big breakups since I started writing here. One was my divorce, and one was the very abrupt and (to me) unexpected end of what I thought was going to be the long-term relationship that would last the rest of my life.
Yes, that sounds cliched. But I did. I believed it with all my heart, and worked for that goal.
But as with my post about suicide (which I’m going to touch on again later this week), I’m not telling you this in order to gain sympathy. And I am very explicitly not telling you this in order to make these women look bad. Quite the opposite. The two breakups I’ve talked about on this blog have involved women who are pretty good people. If for no other reason than they put up with me.
Because let me tell you, I screw up. Quite a bit. I can be really hard to deal with sometimes.
But one thing that I have done pretty well – and the thing I hope you try to do in your relationships when they fail – is that I’m not angry toward my exes.
I’ve talked about my relationships – and sometimes what I’ve learned from (here, here) or what I hoped for from them (here, here, and here). I’ve talked about my own feelings, and when all other avenues of communication were cut off, tried to talk directly to the person I cared about (here, here).
But I don’t wish any of my exes ill, not for whatever pain or toxicity or emotional damage they did to me.
I tried to reconcile with my first ex-wife after getting letters from her friends in BASIC about how she was having drug-fueled orgies while I was gone. I supported my second ex-wife for three years while we were separated so she could finish her degree. And despite the deep pain that I feel over the sudden devaluation and discarding with the person I call the love of my life, my well-wishes to her, her friends, and family are completely sincere.
Here’s the thing – I cared for all these people. For the most part (despite a flash of schadenfreude here and there), I hope they do well and find happiness. My second ex-wife and I simply couldn’t co-exist; she’s not a bad person. I don’t know what drove the love of my life away so suddenly, but I can only imagine it’s something she truly needs. I even said as much the last time I spoke to her.
And if however they treat me now helps them be better people, then I’m all for it.
Maybe there’s something deeply flawed in them – but I am broken, too. I can’t sit in judgement over them when I know that I’m just as broken in different ways.
I visited two remarkable women last weekend who I hadn’t seen for twenty and sixteen years. Back then, I had had some degree of romantic involvement with each of them.
They, just like I, have gone through some serious crap in their lives. And when I visited them and their husbands and families, they were happy. And visiting them was visiting old friends, not like visiting enemies. (And their husbands were pretty damn cool people too, let me tell ya.)
I firmly believe that is the relationship you should strive for with your exes. Whether it’s simply an ex-lover or a prior spouse, you cared for that person.
And while it may hurt, and may take a while for your relationship to transition to something new, you don’t have to make it into hate. They can be some of your best friends afterward as well.
It’s a choice. Maybe not the easy choice, but it’s a choice.
And that’s what I hope you get from this post, or some of my ramblings from the last week or so.