Breakups are self explanatory. In contrast, an “ex” can apply to any form of “-ship”—the most common being friendships and relationships. There are the friendships that turned sour; they no longer exist. Disagreements happened, problems reared their ugly head, and bridges were burned. There are the romantic relationships; for one reason or another, your “love” ended up not working out, and now they are a closed chapter and a distant memory. Every now and then, the best friendships lead to romantic relationships. When you invest so much time (and so much of yourself) into someone, it is hard to accept that the relationship is officially over.
The thought of writing this piece has made me nauseated, but I knew it was something that had to be done in order for me to find closure. It went from a fleeting idea to a ton of discombobulated thoughts until it finally reached something worth sharing. To make a long story short, this past year has been difficult. Friendships have ended on the worst terms and some relationships were so unhealthy I had no choice but to cut my losses and move on. In both instances, it’s been a process. As I reflect on the last year, I have become indescribably thankful for my life, for my friends, and for my boyfriend. Ultimately, these “exes” have helped me deepen my current friendships and they have taught me the meaning of self-love.
To the platonic ex:
I’m not sure how things got to this point. You were my go-to, my support, my know-all-tell-all friend. You were essentially my sibling. I honestly never thought we’d ever end up here but for whatever reason, we did. Life happened, we didn’t see eye-to-eye, and now you’re no longer in my life. Often times I miss you; I think of you when I go to certain places in town. Maybe I got that job I wanted, or I’m moving to my dream city, or I’m engaged—whatever it is, the event is life changing, and I want to share it with you. I pick up my phone, I go to text you, and I realize that you aren’t there. We haven’t talked in however-many days and as much as I want to tell you about everything, I can’t. You hurt me or I hurt you. He said that, she said this. It’s just a whirlwind of words that we can’t take back. Apologies didn’t work and now I’m left without my bestie. But despite how we got here, thank you. Thank you for helping me see what (and who) really matters to me. Our fall-out helped me find my strength. You unknowingly helped me through a rough time in my life. While you are no longer around, you’re still helping me discover who I am and how I structure my current and future friendships. I will always want the best for you and I have no hard feelings towards you. Good luck with everything and one last time: thank you.
To the ex-lover:
Looking back, I realize that we were horrible for each other. Did we fall short with the whole “finding the perfect balance between being friends and being lovers?” Maybe that’s where we went wrong. We were only lovers. In order for a romantic relationship to thrive, you have to be friends. How could we forget that vital part? Or maybe we were just meant to be friends. Being lovers ruined everything; it ruined “us.” Regardless, giving you up is still tough. There are days where everything is easy, my life is smooth sailing, I smile a lot, and I laugh. But then there are the darker days. These days come with sadness, tears, guilt, regret, and the desire to change the past. Sometimes the dark days are closer to one another than I’d ever like to admit, but these dark days teach me lessons. I have learned that it takes a long time to develop a friendship and an even longer amount of time to understand the meaning of love. I now know that jumping too fast into a relationship and building it off of lust will never get me anywhere. I also know that turning platonic best-friend-love into romantic love is something you have to think very hard about. In the end, I honestly thought that I was worthless. Who am I if you can’t love me? It was a long and rocky road but I just need to tell you thank you. Through the destruction of “us” I was able to turn my love inward. I searched myself for what I wanted; for what I needed in a significant other. I learned that loving myself is something I had to perfect before I could ever love someone else. I taught myself that, even in your absence, my life matters. I lost you, but you have helped me learn how to develop lasting relationships, platonic and romantic alike. Thank you for teaching me the value of life and love.
Sometimes you’re lucky. You recognize that the person and the ship served a specific purpose in your life and that season is over. You move on, you’re happy, and you’re actually OK. But unfortunately, there are some relationships (romantic and friendship alike) that leave gaping holes, resentment, bitterness, and anger. While these feelings are natural, the storms do eventually blow over and the wounds aren’t always so fresh. Whether you’re a teen or well into your adult life, opportunities to learn from these ex-ships abound and we should embrace them, love them, and use it as fuel to better ourselves.