I finally had one of those moments when you discover an ex has gotten married and your world momentarily collapses. Facebook was innocently trolling my email address book looking for new users who could become my friends. Martin popped up and when I clicked on his profile picture, I saw him looking mighty fine in a grey tux smooching some babe in a wedding dress.
Ouch. Yuck. Puke.
Many of my exes have gotten married and the news hasn’t ruffled my feathers. Even my ex-husband has a new wife and I feel nothing but joy for him. I’ve remained buddies with most of the men who’ve been in my life, especially with the advent of Facebook. All of these guys could get married, father a boat-load of children and be so rapt in domestic bliss that stars shoot from their ears. I’d still be able to offer them a sincere, “yay for you!”
But not this one. Martin was a Dutch guy working on a Masters in political science at a Spanish university. He and I met back in ’03 after I’d moved to Madrid from New York. What started out as an expat-gone-wild fling, turned into nearly two years of off-and-on romance, mutually discovered passion and an unearthing of one another’s souls. Martin’s presence made me re-examine my life, he became a muse and confidante.
But he was also flaky and unsure of himself, and in the end wouldn’t be mine. Ultimately, he went back to his Dutch homeland where “real life” awaited him, leaving me bed-ridden with the flu like some heartbroken maiden in a Victorian novel. The men I dated after Martin wondered how I could be so cold, never knowing I’d been seduced and abandoned like a raging Medusa with snakes in her hair. Any man who looked at me could have turned to stone.
I’m not one of those nutty dames who try to destroy the lives of people who’ve wronged them. I’m mature enough to accept that even men who are unwilling to fulfill my romantic desires can still be friends. I’m forgiving and nice. I trip over my own shoelaces to avoid stepping on ants.
So imagine my shame upon discovering how nasty I could feel toward a person. After the breakup, I’d get messages from Holland where Martin admitted life wasn’t so swell. When he confessed to feeling lost, I was pleased. When a new romance he’d begun fizzled, I cackled like a demon. In the film Sexy Beast, Ben Kingsley plays a maniac who wants to ruin his ex-girlfriend’s new relationship with another man, telling them, “I won’t let you be happy, why should I?” Seeing the movie after Martin’s departure, I thought, ‘I’m with you, Ben.’
Flash forward to 2009 where Martin had become a fond but distant memory…until I saw his wedding photo. As if the wind had been knocked out of me, I ran from the house and roamed the streets with tears streaming down my cheeks like a disoriented victim of a car crash.
Blubbering on the phone with a friend about how one of the great loves of my life had gone on to find happiness without me, I started listening to my own complaints. The conversation began with Martin, but moved onto the men I’d known since him, and ended with my feelings about my career. Whether I was getting closer or farther away from my goals. Whether my life was rich enough to keep my creative fire burning. Whether I still liked the neighborhood I was living in, whether my friendships were supportive enough, whether it was time to rethink my relationship with my finances.
Really, I was agonizing about everything that was supposed to have happened in my life since I last saw Martin, including finding someone I cared about as much as him. A fragment of my heart still burst knowing he was someone else’s passion or problem. But if I was satisfied with my own world, I wouldn’t give a rat’s behind about his.
In the end, I was able to wish Martin happiness. I’m glad for him and hope he makes the best of his new life.
Meanwhile, I’ve got my own work to do.