The other day, I received a text from my ex. It was a heads up that he was going to be sending me an email about "some life stuff", warning me to make sure I read it at an appropriate time. Being the bundle of crazy anxiety that I am, I immediately assumed it was one of three things: he was dying, he was engaged, or he (rather, his girlfriend) was pregnant. I did a quick scan of Facebook to see whether any life changing announcements had been made, and they had not. Seriously, who texts someone to give them a heads up that they are going to send them an email?
In any event, the email eventually arrived, and I was both surprised and relieved by its contents. He and his girlfriend had discussed where their relationship was headed, and they do plan to eventually get married—no surprises there. The catch is, she is Catholic, and in order to get married in the church, his and my marriage needs to be annulled. He asked if I could send him a copy of my baptismal certificate to present to the church, otherwise he'd have to go through some long drawn out process with a bunch of meetings. I responded immediately, letting him know I'd try to get a copy of that paperwork, which in hindsight was a mistake.
As the day progressed, I thought more about what this actually meant, and became increasingly hurt and offended. Not only was my ex seeking a decree that would treat our marriage like it never existed, but he was asking me to go out of my way to help him do it.
I can only speak for myself, but a huge part of who I am today is a direct result of my being married and getting divorced. I grew into adulthood with this person, and even though it didn't work out, for the most part I'm glad the marriage happened. I don't think I would know so clearly what I want out of a relationship, or how to be a better partner had I not had that experience and been able to grow from it.
I like to think I had a similar impact on my ex. While I'm sure he wouldn't still be the poorly dressed, Steak-umms eating video game fanatic that I met and fell in love with in my early twenties, I do think our relationship helped mold him into the man his current girlfriend loves and wants to marry. She wasn't with him when his mom was sick, she didn't spend countless Tuesday nights at bars watching his band play to almost empty rooms, and she didn't go through the scrimping and saving that allowed him and me to acquire material assets, many of which she enjoys on a daily basis. I don't resent that she gets to benefit from all of these things, I just don't think it's acceptable to cherry-pick which aspects of your significant other's past relationships you'll tolerate in your current life.
In all of this, I am mostly angry with myself. I'm mad that I'm letting this occupy so much of my brainspace, because someone who so clearly isn't worried about me is someone I definitely shouldn't be worried about either.
I'm mad because I immediately go to a catty, materialistic place, because I worked really hard at a job I wasn't that interested in for so long, because I felt like I needed to support us financially. It took me a long time to let go of the fact that I left him with just about everything we owned when I moved out of our home. At the time, I wanted a clean break, and I felt bad that I was the first one who said "divorce" out loud. I spent months, maybe even a year, kicking myself for that, but it's something I ultimately accepted as a choice I'd made, and I hate that this request has caused all of that resentment to resurface.
On the rare occasion that I do think about my ex, I want it to be in a positive context. I want to remember him as the person who, after we split, drove three hours to be at my Grandmother's wake because he knew how much she had liked him. Maybe that's why I was so quick to respond to his message with an offer to do what I could to make his situation easier. I really want to not think of him as a complete asshole, but sometimes he makes it incredibly difficult.
While I've got this one-way ticket aboard the complain train, I might as well also bring up the fact that I'm also mad about what I perceive as gender inequality in getting remarried. When I got married, my family and friends threw me a wedding shower and my parents paid for most of our wedding. We also received a number of wedding gifts. Following my divorce, I was convinced I'd never get married again. A little over three years later, I find myself super in love with someone who I'm pretty sure was put on this planet with the express purpose of making me smile on a daily basis. We talk about getting married, and what our wedding will be like, but what he doesn't know (or didn't know until now) is that I cringe a little at the thought of having another wedding. It's not because I don't want to throw a good party, or celebrate being in love with him, I just don't want people to be resentful or feel obligated to attend another wedding because I didn't get it right the first time. This weighs heavily on me. But hey, my ex gets to have another go at it and it will probably be a huge affair, with little to no judgement thrown his way. Nobody ever talks about the groom at these things anyway.
Honestly, I'm surprised by my reaction to this whole thing. Aside from occasionally hearing about what he's up to, my ex isn't really a part of my life. I did ask the church where I was baptized to send my documentation to him, not because I agree with the annulment, but because I don't want to be perceived as a bitch for not going along with it, and hopefully handling things this way requires nothing else on my part.
Maybe I am overreacting (have you ever noticed how there's no such thing as underreacting? I call bullshit). Maybe I'll eventually accept this—I mean, I don't really have a choice. Maybe, eventually, someone who's going through—or who has gone through—something similar will read this, and it will resonate, and I'll make a new friend as we wax philosophical about annulments over beers.
For now I'm going to focus on getting back to being blissed out over the things that are happening immediately around me, because right now, things are pretty awesome.