couples

'My ex texted me out of the blue during the quarantine. I couldn't help but respond.'

A few nights ago, my ex texted me.

When I saw the notification come through on my phone with his name attached, I involuntarily groaned. I’ve written about him before — how we come together and split, and then come together again, and then split again — with fire raining down from the sky and sirens coming from all directions. I’ve written about how we’ve tried to have drinks, and how we’ve tried to be friends. How, despite our best intentions, it just. never. works.

The text itself was completely innocuous.

“How is quarantine treating you?” he asked. “I hope you’re staying healthy.”

We’d spent much of the previous autumn fighting, and getting back together. It was exhausting. We couldn’t take it. We’d worn ourselves out. We’d decided we were going to stop talking.

“We’re toxic,” we decided — together. “We’re just so damn toxic.”

Watch: The Mamamia team confess their relationship deal-breakers. Post continues below. 

Video by MMC

When he texted me around Christmas, I ignored it. When he texted me again in January, I reminded him that we were done talking — and then ignored his response.

When he texted me the other night during quarantine, I responded.

“I’m healthy,” I wrote him back. “Just sitting in my apartment, watching TV, sipping red wine, working. You know, standard life.”

Then, I added, “I hope that you’re healthy and doing well too.”

“I am,” he said. He then followed up with a note about his job. I responded with a note about my job. A few hours later, we were done texting, and I shrugged to myself and went to bed.

“No!” my close friend said to me the following day.

I laughed at him over FaceTime.

“No, no, no, no! Stop laughing!” he said. “No! Nooooooo! No God No! Why?! No!”

“I’m not sure what you’re so upset about,” I said — knowing full-well what he was so upset about.

“You know full-well what I’m so upset about!” he exclaimed. “Why? Why would you respond to him? You were doing so well.”

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“I’m still doing fine,” I said. “I’m not feeling any more of a need to see him now than I was before he texted me.”

“You’re just saying that because you’re stuck in the house,” he declared.

“I’m stuck in the house, he’s stuck in the house, we’re all just stuck in the house,” I said, trying to wind down the conversation about my texting.

He remained undeterred.

“I swear to God,” he said. “If you break quarantine to go hang out with his dumb ass, and contract this virus and spread it around to everyone else, and murder the rest of humanity, and everyone has to die, all because you can’t control yourself around your ex, I’ll — ”

“You’ll be dead,” I interrupted, “Based on this ridiculous scenario you’ve just created. I’ve ‘murdered humanity’ and everyone has died, so you can stop right there because you won’t be around to do shit.”

He sighed. “I love you, you know that right? Can’t you just join Match.com or something? Don’t go back to him.”

“I’m not,” I said, “I’m really, really not.”

And, I mean it — I’m not.

I’m not going back to him. And he’s not coming back to me. But we were together for a long time; we cared about each other for a long time. That doesn’t just fall away — even once you’ve determined that you’re bad for one another. Which we have.

I was mad at him for a long time. If you’d asked me right before COVID-19 if I was mad at him, I would have said yes. It’s likely that I wouldn’t have been able to remember much about our fights at that point; I might not have even been able to remember why I was mad. But, I would have remembered that I was mad, and I would have answered yes.

But now, I’m at home in isolation. I’m not lonely, exactly (I thank God every day for my 96 per cent introversion — I never thought it would come in handy, but then came the global pandemic) but I am re-evaluating a lot of things. Actually, I’m re-evaluating everything.

And, I’m not mad at him anymore. Further, I don’t want to be mad at him anymore. If nothing else, I’ve gained perspective from this nightmare. I’ve been inside my house for three solid weeks. I’ve not seen another living soul in person during that time. It seems silly to me to be mad at anyone in my life right now, about anything.

Nothing I’ve fought with anyone about is even that important. This is not to say that I want to rekindle all of my past friendships and relationships — I absolutely do not. But, I’m also no longer mad at any of these people.

Mamamia’s award-winning podcast, The Split, discusses the difference between a healthy relationship and an unhealthy one. Post continues below.

As for my ex, he has asthma. If he caught COVID-19 and something happened to him — I’d be devastated. He’s a good person — a downright lovely person — and I always knew this. Despite my anger, I never stopped knowing this. It was us that was toxic. It wasn’t me, and it wasn’t him.

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And, I wouldn’t like that our last words to one another would have been “For f**ks sakes stop texting me.”

I had no plans to reach out to him, in fact, I hadn’t even considered it. But, during a time of global crisis, anxiety, and death — ignoring a text from someone who thought about me — and cared enough about me to check-in — seems, well, petty. It seems downright ridiculous.

To be clear, this is not a call-to-action.

It’s a bad idea to rekindle old, destructive habits. If you’re reading this and thinking, “She’s insane, my ex treated me like shit, and in no way, shape, or form would I ever respond to a text from him, even in a quarantine,” then I’d recommend that you stand by that thought. By all means, in a case like that, it is not ridiculous to ignore a text from your ex.

Further, if you had a terribly abusive or dangerous relationship with your ex, I’d recommend taking it a step further, and blocking their number outright, if you haven’t already.

Protect yourself. Don’t reignite bad habits and bad relationships because you’re isolated and confused. When life was normal, you left those relationships in the rearview for a reason. Those reasons haven’t dissipated because we’re now in quarantine. You knew what was best for you then, and it’s likely still best for you now.

What I am saying, though, is that for many of us, there is an ample amount of time right now to self-reflect — and for me, that reflection has fallen heavily upon my relationships — romantic or otherwise.

The situation we’re in right now is new to all of us — and there’s little known about where it will lead us. It’s caused me to think about what is actually important to me — and it turns out that maintaining my anger toward my ex, isn’t.

He wasn’t dangerous. He wasn’t abusive. He wasn’t a good boyfriend — but I doubt I would have won any girlfriend awards during our relationship, either.

I hope that he stays healthy and well. I wish him nothing but the best. If he texts me again — I might respond. If he never texts me again, that’s okay too. In the wise words of Taylor Swift, “we, are never ever ever, getting back together.”

Quarantine hasn’t changed that. But, it has changed the way I respond to him as a human being.

Feature Image: Getty. 

This article was originally published on Medium and was republished here with full permission. 

Maggie is a university counsellor and writer with undying love for animals, cupcakes, red wine and NYT bestsellers. You can find more from her on Twitter.

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