Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Ex Box

Last night my sister was doing a little pre-Summer cleaning. She cleared out all the spaces that have been occupied by old boxes of high school text books and VHS tapes long forgotten. She called me in every once in awhile to give me some of my old possessions that somehow wound up in one of her boxes. A couple of old books, journals, and movies were among the goodies that I took to my bedroom eager to look through. One of the books was called The Female Brain. I remember reading it in my senior year of high school, but I never finished for some reason. Anyway, I opened the book to page one, and a letter fell out. After reading a few lines, it didn't take me long to realize it was a love letter that Ex had written me while we were at our best.

The note was typed in Word, single spaced, a page and a half long. In it he poured his heart out to me. He wrote about how much he loved me, how he could never live without me, how he wanted to marry me. I have no doubt that he meant these things at the time he wrote the letter, but I couldn't help but feel like these words were not his. He and I have changed so much since we were 17 (yes, I know that was only a few years ago lol) that we're hardly recognizable...Reading his letter was surprisingly emotional for me. Seeing his loving words took me back to how I used to feel about him, and I sort of feel for him now deep down. Before I knew it I was crying. Thinking about what went wrong, how he hurt me, how I hurt him, what we could've both done differently, etc. The crybaby fest only lasted a few minutes, because that was as long as I'd allow it to.

Afterwards, I folded the letter up and placed it in my box of mementos. Tucked it in with all the diaries I've had and birthday cards, and other miscellaneous things I've received since I was 8 or 9 years old. Of course this prompted me to rummage through my old keepsake box, as I do every six months or so. In it I found home made gifts, teddy bears, love notes, pictures, and cards from my exs. As I looked at each piece of memorabilia, I couldn't help but wonder, was it a bad idea for me to keep all of these things that reminded me of my exs?

Some people have different ways of dealing with break ups. Some get rid of everything that reminded them of that person. Music, emails, pictures, texts. Some even rearrange their furniture so that they can forget what it was like to cohabitate with that person. But me, I've never been that type. Sometimes it sickens me how sentimental I can be. I've never been the type to do the You Don't Exist To Me sort of thing, but maybe I should. I mean, it's not like I look through this box every day, reminiscing and whining about how things didn't work out. But at the same time, does it really do me any good to keep them? I don't know.

I'm still debating whether or not I'll get rid of my Ex Box, but I'm just curious what you guys do. When you end a relationship, is it the end of that person as you knew them? Or do you hold on to the things that remind you of the good times you had with them?


Experience is the best teacher. said...

Seems like w both dug up things from our pasts that reminded us of the Exs...

2 answer your question, it really depends on how the relationship ended. If that person really hurt me, and I had a hard time getting over him, I bury the old things. But you know what, I still have pics of Dude pasted in my hard bound journal, along with cards he gave me and facebook arguments and conversations. I still have about one-eighth of an ounce of the J'Adore perfume he bought for my birthday 2 or 3 years ago. I don't look at the pictures though. And I hadn't read the fb conversations until more recently when I blogged about him as I was going through a rough time.

I think when you truly love someone, you may not want to forget ALL memories of them... Even if they hurt you to the core. Eventually, I'll be able to look at the things and have only fond memories. I'm just now at the point where reading the conversations, experiences in my journal doesn't cause a flood of tears, though I may get a little watery-eyed about it. I haven't revisited in a while.

All the other exs, I'm okay with the memories. I have pictures and stuffed animals, and they cause no extreme emotion in one direction or the other.

I think this raises an interesting question: Do THEY keep OUR stuff? I bought Dude clothes, fitted caps, Mikes... Really nice stuff, too... It makes me wonder if he still has them, and if so/not... why?

I bought The Artist a little cheap t-shirt as a joke a couple years ago. I "noticed" from tagged photos in a (not TOO) recent facebook stalking episode that he wore it recently (within the last 6-10 mos.)

So IDK. Even though I completely eliminated Dude from my life, I kept the stuff that meant a lot to me, either out of necessity (It's therapeutic to reread old journal entries) or desire (Who want's to throw away half a bottle of perfume.)

I don't think any girl wants to completely eliminate the memories, and the mementos can make you smile once the hurt's gone. :-)

strangetimes said...

Experience is the Best Teacher and Syd: Here is my answer.

My last relationship ended on a particularly bad note. But even though I was hurting, I didn't want to toss away the mementos and evidence of our time together. I figured that the good memories could be thought of in time without dwelling on the bad ones too much.

During the first few months, I just made sure everything was tucked away so that I wasn't visibly reminded of her. After a while, items gradually got re-introduced and looked at again.

What took the longest time to bring back were the photos of the two of us. I took them out of their frames and put them in a photo album that I slid under my bed and let stay there for months (how is that for symbolism?).

About two months ago, I was able to pull the album out and look at the photos with some perspective. The photos are now in another album, with other pics from different moments in my life.

Yes experience, dudes definitely keep gifts from our ex, including those that are strictly sentimental in value.

I still have:

a) Clothes (shirts/shorts/boxers)
b) Shoes (Converse chucks)
c) A ceramic bowl from Jamaica
d) Scented candles that will likely never be used
e) Books (some vampire novels [she was really into those], some Michael Connolly novels [one of her favourite writers], and a book about the history of dancehall music)
f) Love letters/birthday-christmas cards/email correspondence/some poems and stories that she wrote
g) Mixtape cds that she made for me
h) A lace, cream-coloured thong, sprayed with her favourite perfume (A Valentine's Day gift from her to me)

What I gave away after we broke up:

a) A pair of jeans she bought me (much too tight)
b) A pair of army-fatigue coloured cargo pants (I have no idea what she was thinking - she usually had such good taste and they looked so hideous)
c) One t-shirt (didn't like the patches on the shoulders)
d) One book she bought me that I finished reading and really did not enjoy (something by Colin Chancer I think).

Jaded said...

Wow, I don't have a very long response. But honestly, I never keep anything to begin with. Even when things are good.

I still have some emails...but no good ones. Mostly ones that we argued back and forth in because it seems people have a short term memory when it comes to things they've said.

And I have a bracelet. Which I plan on giving back but I don't want to seem petty and it's too pretty to throw away.

Other than that. I dont need any small reminders he was apart of my life. My head is enough and I wish I could throw the memories out.

Ms. Liryc said...

Sometime memories from past loves is a good thing, other times its just reliving the pain over and over again. I've kept certain things from old loves and they brought back no memories, well nothing detrimental, but there is one person that just makes me angry and miss him all in the same breath by looking @ things he gave me.

It takes time for old wounds to heal, and if you know that keeping this thing from this person is just going to make you miss them and not have closure then it would be best to let it go. For everyone healing is different.. One of these days you're going to have to get rid of the Ex box.. just have to figure out when.

Gem said...

I used to keep all sorts of letters and pictures until I got into my last relationship which turned into marriage.

Then I gathered all the old letters and pics, burned them, laughed evilly, howled at the moon, then stopped because I scared myself.

unequivocal difference said...

I personally can't keep things that remind me of exes. I tend to over think things, and I already think about past relationships without prompting.

That said, time for me really does heal all wounds. The more time passes the less and less I care. So when I come across things that I didn't remember I had, I may hold on to them because my emotional reaction is not as strong as it may have been in the past.

But generally I toss things. I can't be bothered...

Miss Moody said...

I toss EVERYTHING! I tend to get sentimental about things, so I trash it. I think you should too. Especially, if you find yourself rehashing things in your mind and/or it's bringing you to tears(even for a moment).

Anonymous said...

Depends cause I HAVE to give a fuck about the person but I move, I cut all contact, I throw pictures away, music, have shaved my hair cause it was like a "prized thing"

I don't like to linger or save shit or keep pictures or have any avenue of contact open to be perfectly honest

Anonymous said...

I am beginning to wonder if keeping those things, keeps that person in your heart. You need to clear that person out before you can let anyone else in. I have letters written by boyfriends in my bedroom in a box, but I need to get rid of them. But somehow putting them in the trash feels like I believe our love/relationship belongs in the trash. I don't think I could bury them either. Maybe if I burn them, then the love that was in the words will be free to find someone else and open my heart again.

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