On Being Forgotten

This post is not supposed to exist.

I’m not supposed to remember.

I’m definitely not supposed to care.

Somehow, the fact that I can write these words all these years later feels like a betrayal to my husband as well as my pride. It’s pathetic and… well, pathetic is really the most perfect word. Pathetic. And pitiful.

And I’m babbling.

I know.

It started when someone on Twitter mentioned that an old ex-boyfriend had contacted them via Facebook. They were a little annoyed. I jokingly asked what the hell was wrong with me that none of my old boyfriends were tracking me down on Facebook – or anywhere else for that matter. Avitable reminded me that I thought it was creepy that he sought out friends he hasn’t spoken to in 20 years. We did a radio show about contacting old friends.

None of that seems significant. None of it should be.

And I’m babbling again.

I know.

The problem, for me at least, is that I cannot hear the word “ex-boyfriend” without thinking of him. I cannot think of him without wondering if he thinks of me. And I cannot linger on that thought for long without facing the fact that no, no he does not.

My God, that boy meant the world to me. I was so sure, so absolutely certain, that he was the one. Even after he’d broken my heart, it was years before I ever entertained the idea that anyone else had ever possibly loved the way we had.

He is a fundamental part of my history.

Fuck. Thinking about him now, more than a decade later, sitting in my living room with my Christmas tree and my children, my chest physically burns as I struggle for my next breath. I have to stop for a moment and refocus on the screen, find my bearings again in a wave of emotion that threatens to crush me if given free reign.

All this time later and I can still feel his touch if I let myself.

Jesus. Who does that? Who holds on that damn tight to something so… something that should be so… meaningless?

I was 17. I was 17 fucking years old when these memories were made. Pathetic doesn’t even begin to cover it.

And yet if you ask me today about the love of my life, I’d be lying if I said his name didn’t spring to the back of my mind while I told you about my husband.

None of this is really the point. It’s just the preamble, really. But it’s hard not to let myself get caught up in my side of the story once I’ve given myself a taste of it.

The point is that… well… I am pathetic.

And he is not.

He is sane and whole and healthy. Functional, apparently. He is not aching for closure or curious. He is not holding on to a handful of memories that he rarely allows himself to indulge in, like top shelf scotch or holiday chocolate.

Because while he is such an integral part of my story, I am nothing more than a footnote in his. A face to be named in an old yearbook or prom picture at best.

Ouch.

There it is.

The pain that cuts the deepest.

The thing you can spend a lifetime trying to avoid, and find yourself leveled by it anyway. The knowledge that you cared more. That you were the needy one. That you were the one who loved more, who held on more, who remembers the details that are insignificant.

That you were forgettable.

Forgotten.

That the words “Always. And Forever.” said in exactly that way don’t hold a deeper meaning for anyone else. That the John Michael Montgomery music that stops you in your tracks is just an old country song for everyone else. That all the inside secrets and jokes and pet names and symbols that you remember as clearly as the day they meant everything to you – are completely forgotten by the person you shared them with.

The realization that if someone wanted to find you, to contact you, they could. Because you are nothing if not easy to find.

The knowledge that he’s never once asked about you when he’s crossed paths with your friends and family.

That the more you remember, the more ridiculous you look.

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