The Ghost of Relationships Past

Infinity Stone
(light green serpentine)

Promotes compassion and forgiveness for yourself. Heals imbalances from past lives and clears emotional baggage from past relationships.

– Judy Hall, The Crystal Bible

Someone once told me that some of the easiest faces to read are those of the people who have just entered a new relationship. You can see it in that soft glow, the bright eyes, and that contented little smile that says, I’ve found someone. To many, there is nothing like the feeling of being a newlyinlove (of course, the same can be said for new parents, but then not everyone is that fortunate): the butterflies, the grin that can’t stop spreading over their faces, the heady, seductive closeness of being with someone whom they would like to believe is the one.

But along with all those new (or renewed) feelings, come the fears. The fear of saying or doing something wrong, the fear of somehow not being good enough, and for the unfortunate (and irrational) few, the fear of the Ex. And all these fears end up begging the questions, “What if I’m not as smart as she is?” “What if I’m not as pretty as she is?” “What if I’m not as skinny as she is?” “What if his friends and family don’t like me the way they liked her?” “What if he goes back to her?”

Going by the creed that whatever happened in the past should stay there, I make it an unconditional rule not to talk about previous relationships and boyfriends when I’m in a new relationship. Naturally, this goes hand in hand with the rule that I don’t want to hear about previous girlfriends as well, because essentially, nobody needs to pay for anybody else’s mistakes. But again, not everyone is that fortunate.

Of late, I’ve had to listen to my friends voice their fears and insecurities in their relationships. One cannot look at her new boyfriend without thinking of the girl he was previously with for seven years, resulting in several hundred pictures tagged of them on Facebook. Another feels that her boyfriend’s poor behavior towards and treatment of her is the result of a previous relationship that ended very badly. And the more I listen to them and try to talk them out of such feelings, the less sure of myself I sound, because I know that deep down in my heart (and sometimes on my face) I harbor those same fears.

Six and a half months ago, I had the misfortune of having my boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend pointed out to me, at no consent of my own, in The Star newspaper. To be fair, he may have thought I would look at the picture and forget about it shortly after, but he probably didn’t realize that, knowing the nature of and reason behind those appearances in the newspaper, I would remember and be haunted by that face in the months to come.

With all the past failures I’ve encountered in relationships, I’ve learned to apply the divide-and-conquer approach to my feelings: identify the most immediate problem, lay out the circumstances surrounding it, and then admit the real reason behind said problem. And after sifting through my worries about a possible abscondence, failure to meet expectations, my own difficulties in opening up to the other people in his life, and even my nightmares of a presence that may or may not still be here, I’ve realized that my real fear is of not being able to measure up to what was once an immensely significant presence in his life.

They say that we are our harshest critics, but why is it that, despite positive — and sometimes even rave — reviews, there is always that one little aspect we nitpick at? It may be something that nobody notices or regards anymore, but because we know it’s there and etched in history it can technically never go away, leading to our own terror of it one day resurfacing and reminding all that there will never be another quite like it. And through all that, we fail to remember that with a little bit of faith and belief in what we ourselves have built, we can put the ghosts of the past behind us, live in the present, and look forward to the future.

And then, maybe, the hauntings will stop.

3 thoughts on “The Ghost of Relationships Past

  1. MarilynK

    Hello, I’ve been following your blog for the past year or so but never commented. Firstly I must say you write really very well and you seem much older than your years. You have a perspective on many things that I have yet to see coming from people your age (I gather from one of your December posts that you are 25).

    My intention of commenting here is to tell you that you must never compare yourself to anyone your boyfriend dated previously. You are right to say that previous relationships should stay in the past, so you must also remember that this girl whose shoes you think you have to fill, is also from the past. She may be thin and pretty and had a great relationship with his friends and family, but in the end, they broke up anyway. From what I’ve seen, you yourself are an incredibly beautiful (and exotic!) girl, not to mention highly intelligent. Even if you are shy in nature I am sure over time you have made an effort to get along with his friends and family, so that does not leave you inadequate in any way. And if you happen to know why they broke up, and don’t repeat the mistake, then that will make YOU the woman SHE could never be.

    So chin up, my dear. Your relationship is still quite young and has plenty of time and room to grow. If he hasn’t already, he will learn to love you exactly the way you are.

  2. Anisa Graeter

    Couldn’t be written any better. Reading this post reminds me of my old room mate! He always kept talking about this. I will forward this article to him. Pretty sure he will have a good read. Thanks for sharing!


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