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Monica Bielanko
A chronicle since 2005 of my marriage & move to Brooklyn in my twenties; becoming a mother in my thirties; moving to Pennsylvania and learning to amicably coparent after divorce in my forties while living 3 doors down from my ex-husband in a small country town.
That's What She Said
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Thursday
Jan192006

CAUTION: Relationships In Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear

You've moved on. You've got a new boyfriend and you love him, you really do. And then it happens. Maybe it's a song on the radio that sucker punches you in the gut. Perhaps you come across an old photo while cleaning out your closet.. Maybe you did it on purpose, hauling out your Boyfriend Box, immersing yourself in faded photographs, faded memories of lost loves. Now they've stepped from sepia toned reminiscence into the technicolor of now and you're stumbling down memory lane.

It's strange to ruminate on how close I've been to certain people in my life who I no longer know. To jump the yawning chasm of seeing someone every day for three years, to no communication at all. I've never been able to do it. Well, I've been forced to do it but I've never been elegant about it. I always called or wrote, even if it was me that did the breaking up. Even if I was certain they were not The One, I still found moving forward similar to trying to swim with your arms tied behind your back.

It's troubling to give your heart to someone and then attempt to cut your losses and just walk away when the relationship expires. Not because you want to be in love with them, but because for all intents and purposes they are your best friend.

It's a concept I've struggled with my entire life. Like a drowning victim, I've exhausted myself flailing about in the frantic waters of love's violent wake, struggling to be friends with ex-boyfriends who hate me. Why? I guess for me, relationships are like deaths. To make a clean break is to never communicate again, and really no communication is death's evil stepsister.. So I cling to vestiges of the person, fighting to not completely lose something I worked so hard to build.

Most of the men I have dated, with the exception of two lovely souls, have refused to speak with me after we broke up (perhaps because I initiated the break-up). Well, they speak to me, but it's never pleasant and of course, it's never the same. It's stilted and awkward, mildly uncomfortable at best and that's more painful than not seeing them at all.. The ghost of the person they once were haunts me, revealing itself in familiar mannerisms and speech patterns, yet for all intents and purposes the person I knew is gone.

Now that I'm married, sometimes I'll hear a song, see a movie or see a photo that reminds me of someone from my past. It's all I can do not to call and say hello. I miss all the men that made me who I am, who helped me transform into the woman that was able to glean, in one night, that The Surge was the right man for me. Those men are important players in my life and I will always love them.

Reader Comments (13)

You are strong!
I broke, had to call an ex, and not a good ex, this was the one who was addicted to cocaine and pot! Great huh! Just had to call, make sure he was alive. He was alive, we talked for like 2 hours or so, mostly catching up. He knows I have a b/f, there is NO sexual chemistry, so it is ok. It was nice though to know he is ok!
January 19, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJen
i never speak to my exes, except my ex wife and only then when it has to do with my little girl. i just dont want there to be bad feelings and there always are in break ups and i dont want any of that old spark to creep up and ruin my new life.
January 19, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterghost
Often, it's the troubled ex's, like the ones on drugs or the depressed ones that lure you back with helplessness. And you want them to be okay. You think now that you don't love them you can help, but if you spend a signifcant amount of time talking to them you know nobody but they can help themselves.
January 19, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterAimee
I used to pride myself at being "a good break-up person". I was always able to put aside the hurt feelings and keep in touch. The shining example I always pointed to was my first post-college boyfriend, a wonderful and endearing guy who I dated for a year before grad schools 2,000 miles apart forced us to break-up. We remained good friends, however, and I would often consult him on my dating life. I even got invited to his wedding and spent a lovely evening dining with him and his wife.

Then came a family reunion in my city. He came out a few days before his wife and I met him (along with several other people) for drinks. He proceeded to get wasted and began fondling me and what not in the bar. He told me how I was the one "who got away."

It was horrifying.

It was humiliating.

It was...the last time I ever spoke to him (save for the apologetic message he left on my voicemail.)

And I wish...I wish I had never kept in touch, so that I could enjoy the memory of him being a good guy. That's gone, now. In my mind, he's just like all the rest of the jerks who would cheat at the drop of a hat.
January 19, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterCinco Lover
That's an interesting perspective Cinco Lover. I am unfortunately NOT a good breaker upper (remember that Seinfeld episode with the bad breaker upper, the guy who tells Elaine she has a big head and she sticks a fork in his forehead)

I have learned I cannot talk to any ex-boyfriends or I lose it and make an ass of myself
January 19, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterGemma
Monica,

I stumbled on these musings via the band board, quite by accident.

I've been reading as much as time allows and it's all really quite good! You have a great grip on honesty and the creative ride that you are now on practically explodes off the screen.

As for the most recent post about significant other's and the ghost's that haunt us all, I was particularly interested in your perception's.

My marriage ended a few years ago. She left me and our 2 dogs at the house. I was much older than she was; 16 years, at that time. It wasn't a good marriage and we both knew it. It probably should have been tailor-made for a good "friendship" after all the dust settled. We were friend's, albeit very different, and we loved each other. It just didn't manifest itself during the marriage and our personality-type's clashed frequently (type-A control freak vs type-B sensitive, prone to self-doubt and depression).

That said, we are totally estranged now. She moved away without telling me. I found out via her Mom, who "advised" me that she no longer wished to speak with me. After our initial separation, I was angry with her for not including me in the process of our break-up (she decided-I had to comply), and she was angry with me for being angry with her. I also thought she had met someone else through her work and hadn't been honest to me about it. I let her go and didn't attempt to contact her. Was it spiteful on my part? Sure. It took me another two years to have another relationship of any consequence because I couldn't stop the pain.

Anyway the point is/was, if a relationship can somehow end mutually and peacefully after REALLY talking things out, the chances of friendly reconciliation greatly improve. I know that's common sense logic but it's amazing to me how the lines of communication are broken when people are hurt. That's what happened to me, albeit the really short version.

I was comforted reading your journal entry. I'd love to have an opportunity to have a long, peaceful discussion with my ex and let the past go. It would be nice to have closure because the open-ended sadness is too hard to carry around.

So, as I said, you are obviously a talented writer, and I'll keep reading. I though you might want to hear a guy's perspective.

J
January 19, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJoe
Prior to the one I'm 6 years into now, I was never in a relationship substantial enough to call anyone involved an 'ex'. Not sure if that's a good thing or not, but there ya go...
January 19, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterDan
"I miss all the men that made me who I am, who helped me transform into the woman that was able to glean, in one night, that The Surge was the right man for me."

How long have I been trying to express that exact feeling and it just NEVER came out right!! It's nice to know I'm not the odd one out who feels that way about former flames. It's nearly impossible for me to sever the ties permentantly and it's impossible for me not to run into those "ghosts" every now and then. It's kind of sad in a way but that's what they really are. Ghosts. I think viewing them as such is the only way to not have regrets and to learn what you really do want from another human being.
January 19, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterLolaWants
I really enjoyed this post-it hits so close to home. I too, really love the two closing sentences.
January 19, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMaria
I routinely google the names of every ex-boyfriend, just to see what they're up to. I've been tempted to call but never have. I am still haunted by them though.
January 19, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJoonbug
Must be nice to have a lot of ex-boyfriends; I wonder what that's like.
January 19, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterSheila
Amazing. Love this post.
January 19, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterHoopla
I also respect my girlfriend's memories of her ex and encourage her to cherish them. I know she will anyways and it seems to take the pressure off both of us. george
January 19, 2006 | Unregistered Commentergeorge

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