How it is possible to stay friends with an ex (and then spend your holiday with them and your new partners)!
“I had to let go of the idea of ‘us’ as a couple but that didn’t mean having to let go of our relationship; it just meant a lot of hard work on both of our parts to put our egos and selfish desires to one side in order to salvage something from the wreckage that we had created.”
Having spent weeks with just each other as constant companions we were beginning to go a little stir crazy and were in desperate need of some chat that didn’t involve small talk with strangers. I cannot explain how excited I was to meet John and Gill in Milos and spend a day or so in the company of close friends.
I know to many people it sounds crazy; planning to meet up with your ex and their girlfriend on holiday, perhaps why the idea appealed even more! John and I have maintained our friendship over the past 6 years since we went our separate ways. In that time, he has moved on and is happily settled (I shouldn’t use that word as he will hate it), but is basically extremely happy with his girlfriend Gillian and I am now engaged to Andy. We had only spent one lunch as the 4 of us before, but knowing we were going to be in Greece at the same time Gill and I got on the case of planning a catch up. We were both so excited to see them!
The thing is if you have loved someone how do you stop? If they didn’t hurt you and you didn’t hurt them then why would you stop loving them? I don’t believe that you should and I don’t think you can. I merely think that the nature of that love changes and this was the hard lesson that I had to learn when we broke up. Not wanting to lose him from my life, I had to let go of the idea of something; not him. I had to let go of the idea of ‘us’ as a couple but that didn’t mean having to let go of our relationship; it just meant a lot of hard work on both of our parts to put our egos and selfish desires to one side in order to salvage something from the wreckage that we had created. And that is what we did.
I am not going to pretend that it was easy, it most definitely wasn’t. At times I think shutting each other out of our lives would have been the simple option, but then I am not one to opt for the easy option in life and in the long run it would have caused me so much sadness. It wasn’t just difficult for us either, but for those around us. His family, who I am to this day so close with, found it difficult as did Gill, especially when they first met and I visited Scotland; plopping myself into their lives. It was a strange situation that only we understood and one that we were not willing to give up on. As time passed it became easier and I knew that I was not a threat to Gill, and Andy, if anything, saw John as a legendary ally who had managed to survive being with me for so long!
What was supposed to be a couple of days in each others’ company turned into 4 fun-packed ‘together all the time’ days and nights. We chatted for hours over homemade greek coffee on our balconies in the mornings, went on cycling and road trips in the day and chatted into the small hours nursing wine and scrumptious food in the evenings. It was the highlight of our trip by far and I was so pleased we had the time to get to all know each other better.
Nothing makes me happier than knowing that this man, who was once ‘the love of my life’, is now with someone who is everything that I never was. What is even more beautiful is witnessing how much he loves her and how obvious it is that she loves all of those things about him that I did/still do. She is genuinely the kindest girl and they are so good for each other. It warms my heart to see this and to compare it to the troubles that we caused for ourselves and each other. They seem at peace with who they are, both independently and as a partnership, just as Andy and I are I suppose. Some things come with age and experience, but others with having the guts to walk away from something that doesn’t make you happy, in order to work out what does and following that path instead.
It doesn’t surprise me that we managed to get on so well as a 4 as Andy is very similar to John just as Gill is very similar to me, only the crazy, spontaneous, fiery side of my personality is mirrored in Andy and not John just as the caring, disciplined, academic, fitness crazed elements of John’s personality are mirrored in Gill. Essentially we saw something in each other once that we have now managed to cling onto in another form but with parts that slot better together with who we are and when all together we were able to bring these little jigsaw pieces of our personalities together to create a great time!
Our situation is rare and a credit to everyone involved and I thank Gill and Andy so much for their patience and understanding. Not only have I managed to maintain a dear friend, but I have now gained another!