So you are moving forward in your dating life, sure you are no longer clinging to the past. You have finally completely gotten over your ex—even if he came to you now, fell on his knees with a ring, genuine apologies, humility and professions of love, you’d say, “Thanks, but no thanks.” And yet…something happens that makes you realize there are still emotional ghosts lingering that still need to be exorcised.
Maybe you’ll see the latest Facebook status update of an ex stating he is “in a relationship.” You hit the ‘like’ button—the new girlfriend actually seems pretty cool—and you are genuinely happy that he’s finally gotten over his emotional baggage and issues to publicly proclaim he has finally committed to someone since his painful divorce. Then you start looking through his photos, and you realize that the few photos that are associated with you have been removed from his profile page.
Friends With An Ex?
He used to claim how much he wanted to maintain a friendship with you when you decided to stop being a participant in his dating games. He used to say a lot of things that never materialized or simply weren’t true. You remember how he took your kindness and generosity for granted while you two were “dating,” and to see that you have literally been erased from his life online is the final insult. He still hasn’t fully atoned for how much that cost you—most especially financially—and furthermore, he has a lot of important stuff of yours that he still hasn’t returned.
Or maybe you are having a conversation—or writing—about old relationships, and certain questions about someone you dated for years that you never got the answers to suddenly begin to niggle at the back of your mind again. Knowing the answers will not affect your current relationship or how you feel about yourself, but you think that perhaps knowing the truth will help you make sense of why certain things happened, or didn’t, and you will know how to place this relationship in the canon of your love life.
Exorcising the Ghosts of the Past
You could be as cold and final as the disappearing former flame was by sending him a brief message. Before removing him from your Friends list, you make one last reference about the jerky behavior for which he has never fully atoned.
I’ve long since forgiven how you used me, but…
And then demand he drop your things in his possession by your home while you are away on vacation.
You could email the ex with a few questions, without accusation or pushiness and pure curiosity. You assure him you are incredibly happy with your love life now, but you want to give him a chance to offer his perception of the truth of your past relationship before you put it into print.
Later, you think better of this, realizing that his perception really doesn’t matter as much as your own. He had the chance to tell you his side of the story so many times during the years you were together. Those questions you have are answers by themselves. So you tell him this too, in not so many words, and wish him well.
I think there is something very healing about writing a letter to someone from your past who has wronged you or left you with unresolved issues. However, I don’t believe that you actually need to send the majority of them. The act of releasing them from inside of you to the written page can provide a purging that untangles the knots and sets you free.
And if you need the extra symbolism, feel free to then burn the letter or rip the paper into tiny shreds. Then, go live your life unencumbered by the past.