Pictures of My Ex

I keep seeing pictures of my ex. (Thank you, Facebook and Apple algorithms!) It’s not surprising, when we were together for a dozen years before Facebook was even invented, and when I’d taken ten years of selfies of us after I bought my first smart phone.

That’s the peril of a modern breakup. You don’t have to get out the old albums, after drinking half a bottle of wine, to see photos. You open your phone in the morning with your first coffee, and there they are: jarring reminders of when you were together.

I obsessed over them, at first. I even, I’m ashamed to admit, compiled them into a document, sequentially, and searched his face for signs. Was that a shadow of guilt? Insincerity in his eyes? Was his expression guarded? Was that one of the times when he was having an affair? It was as if I thought that pinning down when he stopped loving me would somehow make a difference.

Yet when the latest one came up in “Memories,” the jolt was in realizing that I’d been looking at the wrong face.

I look now at those photos of us together, the ones I didn’t delete in that first painful year, and what I see is me. My joy. My happiness. My delight in where I am and who I’m with.

Only one picture here from after I found out. Is it obvious?

What I know now does not change the past. For a long time I thought that what he did made a lie out of our entire life together, but while I was living it, it was pretty good. I was mostly happy. I was secure.

I wrote a letter to my ex, telling him how and why I loved him so much, thanking him for thirty years of stability and our amazing children, telling him how I have now mostly moved on past the pain.

It sits on the shelf, addressed and stamped. I debate whether I will actually send it. Perhaps writing it was enough.

I gently release the ties of the past as I move on into my future.

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