The Sex and the Smithie column is written by a different anonymous author regularly. Send your submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org
There’s no denying that seeing your ex is oftentimes less than pleasurable. In fact, one could say it is on par with being forced to take the SAT again or even, if your breakup was relatively gnarly, being forced to take the MCAT. Ouch.
The ex is “territory” that anyone with any semblance of a brain cell or any desire to preserve his or her own sanity would not dabble with in any shape or form. This is why, when, over Christmas break, my ex-boyfriend, whom I had not spoken to in a year – not a text, nor a drunken phone call or even an insipid email was traded between us – sent me a text asking if I wanted to “grab coffee” it felt as though I had been struck by a particularly vicious bolt of lightening.
You see, with my ex and I, “coffee” doesn’t usually constitute sitting across from each other at our local Starbucks, sipping from our steaming cups and engaging in thoughtful yet utterly benign conversation, like most exes do. It usually means mulling over past events, taking romantic walks in our local park, and eventually engaging in tearful, dramatic, Titanic-style post-breakup sex that usually results in me realizing and thus understanding why it was I broke up with him, and him realizing why it was he fell in love with me in the first place.
The last two times we saw one another after our breakup, I realized just how destructive seeing an ex can be. I think it’s safe to say that many people engage in habitually destructive behavior simply because it is easy and thus comforting. I for one realize how easy it is to swing back into old routines, old habits, despite the fact that I know, deep down, that they are very bad for me. The last two times I saw my ex were probably two of the most potently disturbing and arguably traumatic experiences of my young adult life. The first time, after I broke up with him, he cried in my arms for an hour and described to me, in detail, how utterly heartbroken he was after we broke up. I had sex with him simply because I felt so guilty and, I won’t lie, I was still very much attracted to him. The second time, about six months later, I was home for Christmas and the same thing occurred, though this time the ramifications of seeing him were far worse. We had sex in his dorm room bed and the morning after, I left, making it known that we weren’t getting back together. That night I received several drunken text messages and one fairly abusive phone call from a friend of his (assumably, a fairly inebriated college girl) telling me to never speak to him again, that I was a “slut” and my ex “didn’t love me anymore, anyways.” The morning after, my ex called me apologizing for his friend and I told him, sternly, that I was cutting him off, once and for all and that I would appreciate it if he didn’t contact me for at least a year.
So he didn’t. And a year passed. And over that year I learned quite a lot about myself. In retrospect, the space from him gave me an objective perspective of the whole situation – a perspective I would not have gained if I were still imbued with the drama and emotion that I attributed to him. The year was, in and of itself, an incredibly important time in my life, a time where I could finally breathe and forgive myself for the mistakes I had made, for the pain I had caused, for the promises I had broken, for the unbearable guilt that had weighed me down since I had left him. So, as you can probably already imagine, this is why, after he reached out to me, I had a slight panic attack and became overly obsessive about what might happen if I were to meet with him. What if I had sex with him again? What if I saw him and all of the feelings of despair and love and lust and horror came rushing back to me, as they had the past two times we saw each other after our breakup?
Needless to say, I did, and the only destructive thing that came out of it was the validation that he still cared about me and still loved me, in his own way. And so did I, in mine. It is true that one never quite loves anyone as they did their first love. We got coffee and did catch up and instead of it being dramatic or tense, it was, in many ways, just plain sad. I remember I sat in front of him and thought about how we had, two years prior, sat in the exact same spot at the exact same coffee place as a couple, sharing breakfast, planning our future together. Was it that long ago? It was.
We spoke of the future, of our tentative plans of graduation, of how we had missed each other. He asked if I was still seeing my boyfriend. I nodded and hurriedly said that I didn’t want to discuss our personal lives. He agreed. We started from square one because, at the end of the day, we couldn’t start anywhere else, could we?
I don’t know if we will ever truly be friends. I don’t know if anyone can ever truly be friends – just friends – with someone they once loved fiercely and lustfully, but I do know that time can, if you let it, cure most wounds – if not all. A year ago, I could never have seen myself being able to talk to my ex, face to face, without wanting to spit in his face, or yell obscenities at him. A year ago, I would have never thought it was possible. But hey, life surprises you.