A secret no one’s told you, reader: the old heartbreak, the old heartbreakers – they never really go away. Even once you’re married.
I am living a charmed life these days. A few months ago I married a man with whom I am madly in love. My muscled, tattooed NASCAR-loving librarian husband is everything I ever really wanted but never dared to hope for. We are best friends and I have never been happier.
But then my iPod will shuffle up “Tell Her” by Del Amitri, and I am transported to a desk from three jobs ago, where 24-year old me sat sobbing, reading emails from 13-years older Radio Voice – he claimed he made me a mix CD with that song, but then dumped me before I ever heard it.
Or my eyes will dart over my bookshelves and land on Justine, which Tortured Intellectual once sent me with a funny, lewd note when I told him I’d never read de Sade. When I tried to give things another go with him after my first marriage ended, he broke up with me via email on Christmas morning. We got back together, just in time for him to break up with me again with a text message on New Year’s Eve.
Pangs from The Big One are more frequent. More than a decade after I last kissed him, he still makes regular guest appearances in my dreams; just last night he was there again, inexplicably wearing a police uniform. More disturbing, though, are his appearances in my Facebook news feed. There he is – or, more often, there she is. His baby girl, who looks so much like him it’s as if her mother’s DNA didn’t count – as if her mother could have been anyone at all. Could have been me, I think, when I’m feeling particularly self-loathing. I still think this, despite the fact that he told me on more than one occasion that I wasn’t “the kind of girl” he could ever love.
You might say it’s my own fault. I keep those songs in my music library; those books still line my shelves. I add exes (and sometimes their new wives) to my friends list. No one is dredging up my past but me. And yet – even if I purged all those external reminders, the hurt would still remain. I used to think that when I found the right guy, and was finally happy, all those old wounds would heal. And I did, and I am, but they haven’t. Though my cup runneth over these days, it has holes in it, too.
The heartbreakers never really go away. But… my husband’s not going away either. And he has his own heartbreakers, his own trigger songs, his own haunted books, his own Facebook ghosts. Our pasts made us who we are, who we needed to be to end up together.
And I think it’s okay.