A thank you to my ex

I have playlists for men in my life with which I have had a significant romantic connection. So far, I have three.

When I listen to the playlist of the man that caused me so much pain and doubt for five years, I can only think of how much I have grown through that period, and afterwards. I look at the progression of songs:

from the first songs he sent me, so full of hope and young love —

to the songs I listened to one year in, so full of pleading, asking him to stop the hurt —

to the bittersweet songs that I played for him as I let him go, slowly and lovingly.

My playlist for him has evolved; but then again, so have I.

* * *

I started this blog while I was with him. In fact, he is the reason I started this blog. The first words I typed in were efforts to be understood by the world at large — if he couldn’t understand me, then maybe someone else out there would.

Eventually, they became words that felt healing to me, like a cool salve that I applied to wounds that were there before even him. I communed with my past through my words, and through this process, turned myself inside out. It was painful, but joyful. I relived my trauma every time my fingers flew across my keyboard. Through this blog, I’ve written about him, about other loves, but mostly, about myself — and that’s what I have needed the most.

And because of this, I want to thank him for being the gateway to this world of catharsis; for being the initial struggle I had to overcome before I truly got to the hard stuff; for necessitating this blog that accepts my beautiful and my ugly.

* * *

Here are three songs
dedicated to each phase of our love:

The budding romance;

The suffocating love;

The ebbing breakup.

* * *

ts


Daily Post prompt: Gate

“Great” expectations: Habits & relationships

Today, and every day for the last few months, I have wondered about the habits we perform in romantic relationships: physical ones, mental ones, and most especially, emotional ones. You know what I mean; these habits are the little tics, the behaviors, the thought patterns unique to you that seem to migrate from one person you’re with to another.

Like for me, I know my fingers will always find their way around the hair at the base of his neck, no matter who it is. I know, that for the first few months — or even year — together, I will be a creature of insecurities, constantly comparing myself to their exes, telling myself I’m not good enough. And finally, I know my expectations, molded by the fire and friction of previous relationships, will cause me to be disappointed if he doesn’t meet them.

It feels like I have a template for relationships that changes subtly with each man. Ex #1 made me love men who could talk. Ex #2 made me love men who could dance. Ex #3 made me love men who did sweet little gestures for me. You know, etc. With the end of each relationship, that template would evolve and take a life of its own, like some constantly shifting microorganism, altering itself after some change in its environment. Little by little, the template adapts to incorporate traits that I love, and to accommodate for the traits that I, shall we say, don’t love, but am willing to tolerate.

This is fair, right? This is the part people always optimistically talk about — that grand experiment of dating different people to figure out what you like and don’t like, right?

Well, that all seems fine, but… what if you’re a neurotic freak who holds on to the past? What if that’s the case?

How would I know to trust my template? How would I know I’m being fair in my evaluation of the person I’m with? How would I know my expectations are still legitimate to hold on to? How would I know if my habit of holding on to these expectations is still healthy? Is it even right to hold on to expectations in relationships?

I don’t know the answers to these questions, and frankly, I’ve always been wary of ambiguity. I need rubrics, comparisons, examples, and long, drawn-out discussions with girlfriends who are just as neurotic as me, if not more so. Obviously.

This habit of mine, of keeping a death grip on my ideals based on past relationships, is not as cute as my finger wrapping around his hair. And although it’s perfectly natural that certain habits apply to my next relationship, the extent to which I let other habits overtake my relationship should be mindfully kept in check. Habits are hard to break, and are relics from our past that may no longer be relevant to our present.


Daily Post prompt: Expectation