When I think about My Favorite Ex, I’m reminded of the quote from Jeff Brown:
“You don’t measure love in time. You measure love in transformation.”
When I was a senior in high school I dated the guy who would become My Favorite Ex. I continue to credit him with making me who I am. Before Tripp, I was a good girl who didn’t question much about what I’d been taught: get good grades, obey authority, don’t take drugs, don’t talk to strangers, etc.
Tripp was different than anyone I’d hung out with before. He went to a different, much larger, school and as a result he had a vastly different outlook on just about everything. He was a writer with a twisted sense of humor. Tripp thoughtfully questioned everything and lived as much of an alternative lifestyle as I’d ever been exposed to at the time. He marched to the beat of a different drummer, and I quickly fell in love with the new music.
We spent several fabulous months laughing, hiking, reading, talking, taking pictures and touring the Ben & Jerry’s factory in Vermont (our off-the-beaten-path version of Senior Week). With Tripp, I believed that a part of my soul had just woken up. I’d never felt so wondrously alive.
And then, of course, we broke up.
It was awful. I was lost and lonely like never before. It was as if that newly-awakened part of my soul was dying as a result of the loss. My sadness lasted for several months, during which I sobbed a lot and wrote a bunch of woe-is-me-style poetry. I thought I’d never recover, but of course I did. I went on to climb other mountains, take more pictures and make up my own twisted, somewhat vicious, jokes.
Many years later, I’m able to decode the experience in a new light. The reason I was so attracted to Tripp in the first place was because he embodied the parts of myself that I’d yet to know and embrace. For instance, I’d always liked to write, but I hadn’t considered myself a Writer until Tripp labeled me in such a manner. I was somewhat correct to consider my Self “waking up” in Tripp’s presence, but it was foolish to think that part of me could die without him.
My Favorite Ex taught me that we like and dislike in others is really just a reflection of ourselves. Romantic partners can teach us a lot about who we are, and that’s a wonderful gift. Too often we get caught up in the external focus of being in love and attribute all the happiness and feelings of completion to the other person. When a relationship ends, we mistakenly think the good vibrations go with it, but they don’t. That energy lives inside, and we can remember it and reclaim it at any time.
Dear Exes (all of you): Thank you for introducing me to myself. Thank you for leaving me even more complete. ~Tara