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When An Ex- Gets Married

Ever had this pop up on your screen?

Stop.
Scroll back to check.
Look at how many people ‘liked’.
Hover uncertainly over ‘View Comments’, then decide not to.
Visit profile page to see when this happened & what happened after.
Hover over ‘Like’ and decide against because it’ll mean notifications for the next 2 weeks. Not sure if this needs to be shoved into the face every day.

You may have broken up ages ago. You may have had closure & moved on to things that are themselves ancient history now.

You may not be in love anymore. You may never have been in love, even back then.

You may be in a relationship yourself. Or single and thankful for it.

It doesn’t matter. This will make you stop dead in your tracks and cause the breath to catch in your  throat even if it is for the teensiest fraction of a second. No one saw the expression on your face. Not even a telltale blush or flush or gasp. But a tiny plop sounded inside you and you heard it. I know you did.

Every relationship, no matter how brief, how shallow, however fleeting is an opportunity, a little dirt track that could lead somewhere. It could take you to great sex, a wonderful friendship, that much-needed ego massage, fun for a weekend or a vacation or happily ever after (whatever that means to you). It’s a path that you considered once, when it opened up before you. Maybe you even took a few steps down that road. Even if you walked back or away, the road was there at some point of time for you. The message you just saw above, which made you stop in your tracks signifies that road has shut down permanently. Houseful, we have no more room, we don’t want any more, thank you very much. You may have a thousand other options but losing even one, especially one that you did consider once upon a time, will leave its mark on you.

Then there is this thing that women have about Plan B. I say women, since I’ve never really heard a man use the phrase. Perhaps men do it too, only they call it different things or (characteristic to men), they don’t think about it. But it exists. My best friend once told me,

“If you’re still looking, you’re not really committed.”

I don’t think it’s quite as simple as that. There’s no question in my mind about who the most important person in my life, right now. But that doesn’t mean other people who were once important, cease to exist altogether. Friends who’ve been married and happily, steadily, comfortably so, report the same feeling.

It’s a strange blend of nostalgia, comparisons, smugness & wistfulness, laced with just a hint of pinprick pain. There ought to be a word for it. I suppose the Portugeuse ‘Saudade‘ comes closer than any other word but it doesn’t completely describe it.

I know this and I even know the train of words that went through your head right after you saw it. Maybe you even said most of them.

Good for them.
Isn’t it kind of early?
I’m happy they found happiness with somebody.
How did they meet?
When is the wedding?

(Add sarcastic/bored/snide tone if your relationship with them was rocky)

And all of them were true. But they don’t negate that inexplicable place in your throat where you’re not able to swallow, that funny leap in your stomach that’s got nothing to do with what you ate and the words that come out of your mouth, sounding at odds with what you’re feeling inside.

I know. We all do.

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How To Break Up

I read an article which touched a raw nerve. The article had tips on how to break-up while avoiding the discomfort of the whole process. Now, having gone through this so very many times, I can attest to the fact that practice does not make perfect. There is no easy way to dump someone or get dumped for that matter. In either case you look bad. It is uncomfortable for both parties.

That should perhaps be one’s solace, that no one is the ‘winner’ in this. It’s a relationship that needs termination, not a race or a war – at least I hope it hasn’t reached that stage. Even in the worst, most unpleasant situations, try and remember that there must have been some nice moments with the person. That’s probably preachy and I can’t live up to that always, myself, so I’ll try another tack.

Speaking out of pure practical intent, if it’s over, the person and the relationship do not deserve any more time and attention invested in them. Make a clean break, it is really the simplest thing to do. Elaborate farces, heavy emotional drama all of them take their toll…or at very least require you to do SOMETHING…anything.

And finally I think anybody who has been close to you, even briefly deserves the dignity of the truth, at least. Leaving a person with empty questions is consigning a shitload of emotional baggage to their lot. Maybe that’s what you want after how they’ve made you feel…but really, how much do you gain over making a person think of you everyday, badly? I’d rather they don’t think of me at all than think of me maliciously.

Don’t bother with the blame-game (how does it matter who is responsible anyway? Believe me you’re going to feel just as shitty about it, whether you acknowledge it or not). And honestly, honestly it does not matter who actually verbalises it, partings are generally painful anyway.

As for how they are going to react, if you’re breaking up with them, why should it matter anymore? I tell myself that…and yes, I’m a person who can’t handle other people’s emotional scenes and tears. They are responsible for their behaviour but you are responsible for yours.

I’m all for a clean break, the simple truth, served up direct without frills.

Being at peace with yourself is often a function of how cleanly you’ve lived your choices. Think of all that, the next time you need to call a halt to a relationship.

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*An earlier version was posted here. One version appears on Yahoo! Real Beauty.

Fallen Eve

To ‘the one special woman’,

You are the stuff of memories that never fade, rust or get forgotten. You are the overriding factor above everything hormonal, practical, emotional, logical and fair. Indeed, you must be special.

I’ve been thinking about you a lot. Do you know who I am? I am the one who he leaves to chase you. Or the one who battles with the insurmountable statue of you up on the pedestal. I am the real-world girlfriend. I spend the boring, traffic-laden, polluted days with him while he reminisces about the special candlit dinner-violin serenaded moments with you.

Actually we’ve met a few times. Once you were a good friend who toyed with the idea of him while I stood around waiting and then handed him back to me, slightly soiled, a few months later. The thing is you gave back to me his bruised ego to heal but not the fragments of his heart. That you kept for yourself and I’ll never be able to touch them.

Some other times you’re a stranger, nice and pleasant. You are never off-balance, never irrational, you never scream like a banshee. No, I do that….after all, security brings a level of peace and calm and I wouldn’t know what that looked like.

A lot of other times we haven’t actually met or even spoken. I’ve looked at photographs of you, heard about you from friends (and from him) and wondered a great deal about what you must have that I don’t. You aren’t prettier. Or smarter. Or nicer. Or more loving. But in his memories, you are incomparable.

I’ve thrown in the towel a while ago. I can’t compete with a memory. Or perceived perfection. I am real. Flawed, inconsistent, imperfect. I have acne, PMS, extra inches around my tummy, doubtful taste. I’m the real thing. Well…that can never compare with the poetry of a fantasy, can it?

Your position isn’t exactly a complete one either. For you do know what will happen the minute you succumb? You’ll turn into me. I guess you know. Which is why you let this state exist as it is. I guess it is better to be adored from a distance than ignored right to your face.

Do I sound bitter? Yes, I am. Very. I wanted someone to want to settle down with me, not settle for me. No one wants to feel like a consolation prize.

My Best Friend’s wedding‘ was about me. But I am not always like that. The platitude talks about wanting happiness for someone you love, even if it is not with you. I aspire to do that, even if I don’t always succeed. Believe me, if you think its difficult being friends with me, you have no clue what its like for me to battle envy and resentment and like you for who you are. Well, you are likeable. Which makes it even more difficult.

I won’t ever tell you this to your face. Why, I wouldn’t even admit to him that he’s important enough to me to colour my thoughts of another person. But I feel it. I guess all I have left is the thought that….

Eve’s greatest enemy isn’t Adam
But another Eve

Even if you are a better woman than I am, I love him more than you ever will. Now if only, he’d understand that. But that probably doesn’t matter.

Signed,
The ordinary woman

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An earlier version of this post is here. A version is also posted at Yahoo! Real Beauty.

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