Swimming upstream

At school one casual day I chose to wear brown corduroys, wellington boots and my Dad’s cowboy hat. I got teased. (I was 7). Old enough though to remember my Dad telling me that being different is harder than being like everyone else, but someone’s gotta do it.

Much later, my relationships followed suit. I just don’t tend to do them much like anyone else. By the time you reach 30, you kinda learn to ‘dig the holes in your cheese’ as one of my best friends put it.

I’d never really thought about it much until now: I only ever had one terribly dramatic, chaotic break-up filled with screaming, shouting, harsh words and slamming doors that never re-opened.

Maybe I should be grateful for that, because I sure as hell never wanted to repeat it, and haven’t. 

That was 11 years ago and I was a mere pipsqueak. Now I am sitting around the kitchen table with a group of my Girls (affectionate, light term for My Female Board of Directors). I am well aware that sometimes they think my ideas are so leftfield that I may as well be speaking Yiddish, but tonight even more so. You see, we are debating being friends with your exes.

My Girls range in age from 23 to 62. And one is even gay and happens to actually be a big ol’ man. But still a Girl. One worked with and dated a man on a cruise liner for 3 years, only to find out after splitting that he was married and had 3 kids. One still supports her ex husband financially 24 years after he divorced her. One has seen her ex every weekend for 4 years after they split, and has never greeted him since Splitsville. One came home early to find their lover in bed with a member of the same sex. One made her ex husband stay in the garage for 18 months while she kept the house and the car that he’d paid for. One’s ex’s new mistress had her deported.

 I understand that sometimes being friends with an ex seems about as necessary for your emotional wellbeing as a root canal sans anaesthetic. Realising why you loved someone in the first place takes time and effort, and for some people that’s the polar opposite to moving on with their lives.

For me, it’s a no brainer. It doesn’t matter if he rode over my foot with a 10 tonne stud-wheel tractor or that I sewed haddock fillets into his curtain seams. Call me a sucker for punishment or just plain sado-masochistic, all’s well that ends well.

Maybe it’s because my parents are divorced. Maybe it’s because I truly believe that sex is a soul-tie; a bond that requires forethought, fearlessness, love and trust. Or maybe because it takes a whole lot of courage and time for me to fall in love. All of these extenuating lead-up factors may be a great filter as to whether the man I’m about to have a relationship with may in fact be a serial murderer or chauvinistic pig.

 It’s sometimes so difficult, challenging and time-consuming to enforce a friendship with an ex that I often wonder why we do it. But then I think of how tragic and sad it is to have spent how ever many years with someone only for them to revert back to stranger status. And that after letting the dust settle it’s really invaluable to have someone who knows me give me honest feedback without ulterior motives.

And help out when I can’t figure out how to assemble Ikea furniture in a crisis.

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