Well at Halloween I thought there was only one topic I could really cover- ghosts. No, not the white apparition that appears from nowhere constantly searching for a way through to the other side once they’ve finished their business. I mean the other type of ghosts you used to go bump in the night with- the ex. I mean is there anything scarier than coming across someone you use to shag like mad? There’s a reason that Ex on the Beach use horror music for their titles. Life is full of people who come and go; friends, acquaintances, old colleagues etc. So I got to wondering what it was about exes in particular that is so weird when you see them again.
First I guess is the obvious. This person has seen you naked. That can make things pretty awkward depending on who you’re with when you come across them. Out with the family or with a new partner are the worst. These people in your life like to think that you’ve only ever had sex with current partner, and if you don’t have a current partner- you are a virgin. You can’t help that old image creeping into your mind. So you’re now out walking your dog thinking of nothing but this persons bare arse and how they had an obsession with baby oil. There are reasons you chose to forget this stuff until now, and yet here you are; back in a dingy student bedroom trying to not get Johnson’s on your sheets.
There’s something so strange about seeing someone fully clothed six years after you were constantly naked together. I mean, what chit chat can this bring really? Left boob still bigger than the right one? Still into biting? etc. As a nation of small talkers there is nothing worse than having nothing in common to talk about other than that time you drunkenly decided it was a good idea to go back to your friends flat and sloppily fumble about together in the dark. All that’s left is to talk about friend in common, and the weather. Excruciating!
Even worse than the casual ex is the one you actually cared about. This one you really will wish is a ghost that will disappear as fast as they appeared in the supermarket aisle. Your mind may forget, but your emotions don’t. And this I think is the problem. It may have been years since you last saw them, but hello anger and heartbreak nice to see you again. Your life may have moved on and you may now rationally understand that being with them still would be a total nightmare. But in that split second where you realise who that person is, how you felt when you last saw them washes over you. It then takes time for your brain to kick in and remember they’re an arsehole and you don’t care about them anyway.
To remember that you were loved and then not is a strange thing to feel. They say it’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. But I guess it depends which side of the breaking up you were on. And also where you are in life now. Being reminded that people can treat you badly isn’t a helpful thing.
Worse still is the one that makes you cringe- these are the poltergeists of the ex world. The guy you fell asleep on top of when he thought you were having the best time of your life. The one you had a screaming argument with in McDonald’s at three in the morning for a reason that escapes you- all you know is they didn’t want to see you again after that. Or the one you didn’t even make it home with as you threw up all over them in the back of the taxi on the way. Stories never die. So you know that the memory will be sparked in them as it is in you. You’ll be the centre of the tale told later on that night when they see their mates in the pub. “Hey, remember that girl who had really hairy legs like a yeti? I saw her in Aldi earlier with her husband”. (This is a question I will never be able to answer- Why? Why do you always pull on the night you don’t shave your legs. You can’t even get a snog when you’re hair free!).
Exes are ghosts because we’ve left them in the past. We’ve dealt with the emotions attached to them and moved on with our lives- sometimes similar to the process of grieving. We’ve accepted that they’re not part of our life anymore. We’ve dealt with the embarrassment. We’ve dealt with the shame. We’ve got used to not spending Sunday’s at their grans house having a roast; God bless the Toby Carvery. And yet here they are- our unfinished business of the world reminding us that what we do today can always appear in the future.
So take this as a warning. They walk amongst us- be watchful.