The Ex Files: Can Loss Be A Life Lesson?
Years after the breakups, I'm grateful to my exes.
As a long-lived lesbian, I know a few lesbian couples who have lasted more than a few years – but only a few. Most of us seem to be wedded only to the idea of serial monogamy (or serial non-monogamy), and not wedded to each other. Given that it's fall in the USA, it's time for reflection. And, as it's spring Down Under, it's time for new beginnings.
Recently I've been, as we fondly say, "working on myself," trying to figure out how to be a better person and, especially, how to treat other people better. I've been looking back through old journals and old memories, thinking about the former lovers who have influenced me, the exes with whom I shared the most years, tears, and changes of address. I find now, years after the breakups, that I'm grateful to them. Not only did these wonderful women love me and share their lives with me, but now, they're still showing up in my life and my thoughts, showing me things about myself.
Poem and photo by Kathleen Mavros
"Inaction reveals action
Action reveals intention
Intention reveals motivation
Motivation reveals everything.
Patterns can be dangerous.
- Kathleen Mavros
Here are some of the life lessons I've learnt from lesbians I've loved.
1) Sex won't hold a relationship together. With one ex, the bond between us was about 90% physical, and 10% random stuff such as my wanting to ride her motorcycle. The first time we kissed, I thought, "We will always have this," and we did – even the last time I saw her, when we shared a hotel room for New Year's Eve. We still had sex, but we didn't have much else left.
2) Never violate anyone's privacy. In my mid-thirties, I did one of the most horrible things I've ever done, out of insecurity and neediness: I read my girlfriend's journal. Then, horrified at myself, I confessed and apologized. She was quite rightfully appalled, and hurt, and she let me know. I wish I'd never done that, but at least, having seen the effect on someone, I have learnt how much damage I did to her and the relationship, and to myself. I've never since done anything like that, and I never again will.
3) If someone says they have nothing to give, don't argue the point. I have made the mistake of wanting to be with someone who was not emotionally able to really give me anything, even after she told me she had nothing to give. The karmic retribution was that later in my life, I was in the position of not being able to give enough to someone else. Next time someone tells me they have nothing to give – or don't want a commitment, or don't think it will work out between us – I won't argue.
4) Keep loving. Although there's been sadness, bitterness, and anger in all my breakups, I'm glad to say that I still feel admiration, respect, and affection for the women with whom I once shared lesbian love. I wish them well – and I hope that they, and I, go on to better and even more long-lived-lesbian love. Who knows? Maybe one day, it will last.
How do you relate to your exes? Tell us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.