Of Exes & Turning the Page

I had an ex contact me recently and it got me thinking about how so much of our lives are like a photo book.  There are snapshots we take of the big moments that define much of who we are, and these moments give context to the life we see when we turn to look over our shoulders. 

The question is, what purpose does it serve – good or ill – to try and reach back into those moments and bring them into the present?

The moment I got that message from my ex I began to scroll back in my mind to the man I was then and it made me sad.  That was a bad moment in my life and that person only made it worse.  I hurt her and she hurt me.  I guess the overriding feeling in the end is that I was young and stupid, we both were, and it’s a moment I don’t like to relive. 

I have to admit that I am the kind of person that doesn’t relish reliving the past.  I believe in focusing on the moment I am in and the moments to come.  Nothing good has ever come from looking back over my shoulder and pondering questions that have no answers. 

“What if?”… right?

Knowing her as I do, she needed an ego boost.  She’s going through a transitional period in her life (by her own admission in the opening email) and I am sure she’s a bit conflicted.  So she flipped back through the photo book of her life to find a moment where she felt good about herself and found me. 

The problem is, the only way you travel back is if the other person is in that same transitional moment.  Even then most people find that the reasons it all fell apart then still hold true and all they’ve really done is tried to fill a moment of emptiness in their life with something they should have logically known would never work. 

I spent some time recently looking back at pictures of my daughter when she was first born and it reminded me of how quickly life passes us by.  Each life that we touch and the relationships that we build have their moments, just like the stages of a life, and no matter how badly you want to go back and experience them again, you can’t.  I look at my little girl’s beautiful face and I know she will never be 2 years old again.  That is both a sad and happy thought at the same time.

It’s natural though to go through ups and downs in life, and when you are down it’s also not unusual to try and grasp for the moments when you felt good about yourself and get back to that time.

For me, the lesson in these moments is not to indulge your ego or curiosity by rooting around in your skeleton closet, but to focus on the moments you have before you – to make better choices, to mature and grow.  Seek to understand your own part in how or why your life changed as it has and become a better person so the next stage will be a step forward, not a trudge backwards. 

I looked at that boy in my picture book and saw all of his insecurity, all of his immaturity, and it reminded me of how far I’ve come and how far I still have to go.  So I guess I should thank her for reminding me that my work isn’t done.

So I am going to put the book down now, kiss my daughter goodnight, and lay down with my wife.  The past can stay where it belongs.

13 thoughts on “Of Exes & Turning the Page

  1. Must be the week for it! Though my ex and I remained friendly and have a lot of mutual friends, we don’t really talk much. But we’re going to meet for lunch because we now work very close to each other. A new chapter in an old friendship.

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  2. I often think of “what if’s” and oh sooo quickly I get reminded of why it REALLY didn’t work, not just the surface fluff. We always grow and people come in our lives for a reason and to teach us some life lesson we need to learn, and some need to move on and others stay for good 🙂

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    • Very true about the life lessons. The curse of the ‘what if’ is that people often focus on the ‘fluff,’ as you say, and forget why they grew to dislike the person. For the dumper it’s usual about ego. For the dumpee it’s often about the fact that they never moved on in the first place. Either way, it’s best to keep moving forward than to try and go back. Retreat is not an option!

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  3. Sometimes I think we get caught in a trap, being nostalgic about the past thinking it was really better than it was. I think you were realistic when you got the email because you didn’t see things as being better then they were. You looked at what you had presently and valued it, saw how far you had come. It’s a great attitude I think to have. Thanks for sharing.

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  4. Thoughtful words. I had gone through that process & came to the same conclusion too. We often look back through rose tinted glasses and forget that the things that didn’t work then — be it an ex, a former job, etc — will still ring true now. I agree that sometimes, the past can remain in the past. But it’s interesting that the past can still give you new lessons in life. 🙂

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