When The Past Catches Up...

Article published on Jan. 9, 2008
community published
Article published on Jan. 9, 2008
As requested by a number of readers, another extract from the diary I kept whilst in the USA... December 26th 2007, 12pm A couple of months back I wrote an entry about whether or not it is possible to stay friends with an ex. Filled with bravado I scoffed that it came down to a question "of intelligence and maturity".
Yet writing this nursing a beer whilst my girlfriend catches up with her ex, I fear my earlier words may come back to haunt me...

Not that I feel like I have anything to worry about per se. I trust her implicitly and furthermore I am pleased that she does not feel the need to go behind my back (or at least I hope so!) for fear of pissing me off. I know couples who have to make furtive phone calls to purely platonic friends for fear of offending/upsetting their other half. But men, myself included, are insecure egomaniacs and therefore no matter how much trust is there, we still feel tension in our shoulders at times like these an itchy feeling of jealousy up our spines and a certain sense of foreboding...

I call it my inner John Donne.

I think that what makes these situations so hard is that the 'modern man' (and complete with new Ipod I consider myself one of these :) ) is placed in a no-win situation. If you tell your partner they cannot meet their ex, you are (rightly) pigeonholed as a selfish, mysogynistic bastard. What's more, if you labour the point in the days and hours leading up to their reunion you risk making things an awful lot worse. To paraphrase an famous Friends quote, "you turned him on and sent him off to see a stripper?!". You piss her off before she goes to meet him at your peril...

A good friend of mine fell foul of this (and for comic timing it was on Valentine's Day). He took his girlfriend out and wined and dined her. They got a taxi back to his and being the generous soul he is, offered to lend her a suitcase for her trip to London the next day. More fool him as she opened up said luggage to be confronted by an item of his ex-girlfriend's underwear. Recounting this story to us in the pub the next day, we thought it was hillarious, but she stormed off to London and their relationship went down hill from that point.

Shortly after he came to live on my sofa and was rehabilitated back into society with a mix of Playstation and tequilla, as was the style at the time.

Nursing another beer, I start to feel pathetic for harbouring such jealousy. I mean, I have met up with Ex's before for a drink. In fact if you haven't experienced the awkwardness of someone handing your spare toothbrush back in a crowded restaurant then you haven't lived! But the thing was these meetings were when we were still at the 'you're a complete bastard stage'. As as time goes on the hurt and anger people may feel at the time of a break-up can dissipate and what has gone before gets viewed with rose-tinted glasses.

That is where my insecurity is rooted.

I guess this sort of situation is inevitable whenever you return to your home town. We all have so much history there, and no matter how much we change as people there is so many relics of the past just waiting to pop out of the shadows and fuck you up. Like when you take a girl to meet your parents and they get out the baby photos. Every bar reminds you of a date, every park-bench a furtive kiss - a halcyon day forever frozen in time. These are the very things that inform who you are now. The swings that you hung around on after a house-party, the spot where you shared a coat and a surreptitious cigarette. The memories that...in years to come you will baulk at the thought of your own kids ever experiencing.

Such is the consequence of life.