It’s 6.11am and you’ve hit snooze 1.5 times. You’re a little perturbed when you open your eyes to 8 messages from 5 of your friends. A quick glance at social media reveals the reason for the panic (that until now you’ve slept through). No wonder your mates are checking on your mortality status, your ex has just announced that he’s adopted a beige dog. Oh and he’s engaged. Let me clarify that this is a significant ex. He’s not a guy who you went on 3 dates with, developed a deranged social media fascination over and couldn’t seem to move past. It’s the person who would qualify as The One or possibly The One That Got Away; someone who you ultimately thought you would end up with, ya know for lifesies. It doesn’t really
matter why it didn’t work out, it matters that it didn’t and as a result some very complex feelings are now bubbling to the surface about their serious life progression (with another human). Here’s my top 5 options for dealing with the next 24–48 hours:
Wait until the bottle shop opens then commence drinking mimosas for the day
Find a gym with a punching bag
Contact him/her and say something. I hear emotional voicemails are an art form these days.
Ignore it. In fact sweep the whole thing under the rug for 2 years until you unblock them on social media and realise they have a family and a Tarago
Cry, eat bread, ice cream and deal with the ouchy bits ASAP
There’s really no right or wrong way to navigate this type of sticky emotional landmine. Trust me, I’ve done the groundwork for you and I’m proud to report that it does normalise day drinking on any day of the week. I forced myself to face a gauntlet of internal questioning not too dissimilar to the Spanish Inquisition just to make sure I wasn’t over reacting. It’s okay to feel yuck, rattled, displaced or even thrust back into the nostalgic what if’s when exes move on. But fuck it now that we’re all here, let’s traipse through this emotional cesspool together. Grab your drink and get in you miserable, mopey fuck. Next stop ex-lightenment. Firstly a quick sanity check: Could this announcement be just an uncomfortable reminder that you’re not yet over your ex? Don’t be ridiculous. Just because you have feelings, real, adult feelings about a person who played a significant role in your life doesn’t mean that you haven’t moved past the day your relationship ended and you took up residence in your own wardrobe with a bottle of Baileys. Furthermore, the presence of those feelings does not mean you should allow yourself to be tricked into thinking that they are tied to unsolved longing for your ex, for the relationship or a relationship in general. The heart only feels, but it doesn’t label feelings with any level of sophistication. Sure, pain is felt in disparate ways by the body but ultimately our brain ascertains which feelings get what name. Be assertive with that shit. Don’t let those raggedy ass feelings run rogue and force you into days of wondering if you’re still in love with your ex and possibly shouldn’t have handed back the ring/dog/keys. It ain’t that boo. <If you really, truly think you’re not over your ex then you’re in the wrong article. Promptly make your way to the emergency exit please> Buckle up. We’re hitting turbulence (and jealousy): Could it be that the ex expecting hits a raw nerve because you are not expecting? Maybe it’ll be a catalyst for you recognising that you would like a new relationship, a tattoo, to open a business, buy a dog, sports car or move house. In that case, you can thank your ex for the growth and catalyst your ass into action. Next stop Ambiguity Alley: Sometimes we fall under the spell of not knowing why another human gets under our skin so frustratingly well. Why do we love them so much, why can we feel our insides curling adoringly over them unprovoked? A similar thing happens on the darker side of like. Some people, and some situations just piss you right off. It’s highly likely that there’s a good (read: deeper psychological issues on a subconscious level) reason for it all but sometimes you just have to chuck it in the unknown basket and let it be a niggling, nagging, shitty thing. Fasten your seatbelts for your arrival on ex island: Could all these swirling emotions come from a sense of disengagement and the realisation that you are slowly growing further and further apart from your ex, and that version of your life (and yourself)? Before disembarking please make sure you check the overhead lockers for traces of nostalgia or memories that may have moved during this journey: When we come to terms with a break up there’s a soft sense of finality. I think that comes from the ability to process things in the way that best works for you, and for your memory of the relationship. This naturally depends on how you end things with a lover but at some stage of the “getting over it” game you find yourself truly on the other side; no longer hotly frustrated or deeply sad. It’s in this space where all of the angst disappears and lessons begin to crystallise. You’re left with rounded, slightly banal memories of your ex that provoke no acute emotions. Instead only the vanilla “oh i remember us having a picnic at that park”, or “fuck that beige hat of his was ugly haha”, but “his Mum was so lovely” and “god i was so drunk that night at Motel Mexicola when we started the congo line, type thoughts remain. They are benign, faded memories that you can comfortably file away, confidentiality ticking the box of “I am over this”. And because you are, that box of memories stays safely closed. With any type of announcement from a significant ex that the box of memories is abruptly turned upside down and the pieces you have carefully stuck into place rudely shuffled and stirred. It’s the unwelcome evaluation of your own reality that has shaken you. This time you’re at a distance, making space for their next life step whilst imagining a now unknown version of them.