It doesn’t matter how happy or in love you might be, when you see that an old love interest is dating someone new, all hell breaks loose…in your mind. On the outside everything is calm and composed, but inside your heart is making the organ equivalent of a fist.
As I age, this doesn’t get any easier, and the amount of time passed is somehow irrelevant. This is one of those social media evils, the ones psychologists probably warn you about. I get that it’s not healthy to stay connected, no matter how superficially, with someone I was intimate (physical or emotional). But that’s not the world we live in, nor is it in my nature. I’m a collector of people and experiences; they are all meaningful to me in some way, even if they caused pain. I like surrounding myself with reminders; they help me to stay focused on goals, avoid weakness, and remember memories that make me smile. This is how I feel about tattoos, so it’s no surprise that I already have five of them.
It’s hard to not feel silly when this happens. I see that person is happy with someone that isn’t me. I wasn’t the superhero to fix his dumb problem, and it makes me irrationally upset. My chest gets tight, and my brain feels fuzzy as I send obligatory Facebook photos to my best friend. It’s her duty to assure me that I am prettier, cuter, smarter, funnier, and other superlatives that are not identifiable even with the most extensive social media sleuthing. Even if it’s not true, I appreciate this dating ritual. It makes me feel better in a really sick way.
I feel guilty for even feeling this way. I too have moved on to someone who is infinitely better for me, and my Facebook shows it. It’s hard to contain happiness. How many times did he browse my profile and feel this way about me? Based on the way things ended, I project that he feels nothing about it. I know that’s probably not true, but it doesn’t hurt any less.
Being with him isn’t even appealing to me. Given the choice, I wouldn’t take it if you paid me. But I’m selfish. I get to move on, and you have remain alone as punishment.
It’s painful in a strange way. It feels like betrayal even when it’s not, and half of the discomfort is your own left brain telling you to shut up and be rational. Moving on was going to happen at some point; I knew that. Just let me sit in my shit for an hour and eat my feelings. I’ll be fine in a few hours.
Heather is a contributing editor at the-dah. She is a Los Angeles based writer, improviser, snacker, social media mistress, and aspiring adult. Read more of her food-stained stories about growing up weird at Terrible-Twenties.com, or follow her digital alter ego @MissHezah on Twitter.
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