What happens when an old flame contacts your husband on Facebook? Lindsay Woods tells her story.
That innocuous salutation.
That’s how it started. When my husband’s phone ‘pinged’ it caused him to turn a little pale while simultaneously holding his arm in an outward rigid position to display the message.
“I didn’t do anything!” he said as he shoved the phone toward me.
“I got the first message a few hours ago and thought it was some sort of spam but it’s not.
“I didn’t know if I should mention it to you but I was afraid that if I didn’t and you saw it you would wonder why I hadn’t shown it in the first place. Or that you would chew me up and spit me out.”
The cause of my husband’s somewhat flustered state was an ex-girlfriend.
With a low cackle I quipped, “Who knows, maybe you are about to gain another son or daughter?” His pallor now turned to an off-white hue tinged with green as his eyes darted in his head while he silently tried to calculate dates.
Another message to advise that she had obtained his number through a former acquaintance as she had noticed that he was not on Facebook (neither of us are).
“I think you really need to reply to her.”
“And say what?”
“She obviously wants to talk to you. I mean, she’s gone to a bit of effort to track you down so it would be a tad rude not to answer her.”
“Yes, really. Plus, she can see you’ve read the message…”
It was a light-hearted reply. As innocuous as that first ‘Hello…’.
A sharp exhale of breath from my husband as he turns the phone to me, “Now, look what you’ve done”.
She went on to say that she had thought of my husband often and had always wondered what would have happened if they hadn’t parted ways: “We were a great couple.”
From the corner of my eye, I could see my husband glancing at me as I read the messages; bracing himself for the onslaught of indignant rage and jealousy normally indicative of fluctuating teenage hormones. But I just felt somewhat deflated. And sad.
She was truthful in her admissions.
In that she had often thought of him.
This was compounded by her efforts to locate him.
A conversation had been had, a number sought.
Was it mere curiosity or something else?
And yet, I did not feel threatened in any capacity…
I too was curious.
Curious of anyone who had known my husband before me.
He is a good man.
I can understand why people want to know him.
I felt she had been cheated for not knowing him at this stage of his life.
The relationship had ended after a few months.
“Was she your first love?”
“No. We were so young. I don’t think so…”
“If you don’t think so, then she wasn’t.”
“I just didn’t think it was that big of a deal. On either part. It just ran its course.”
“It might not have been a big deal to you but evidently you meant a great deal to her.”
“Do you think? I don’t know… it’s just a bit strange to not hear from anyone for so many years and then ‘Bam!’….”
Talk turned to previous relationships.
Of first loves, flings, general stupidness and the ones that hurt the most.
I have been with my husband for 17 years and married for nine of those.
He was not my first love. But he is the greatest one.
I met him during my Leaving Cert year, a statement met with incredulity these days, and we have been together ever since.
We have grown up together.
We argue as much as we laugh.
We have seen each other at our best and worst.
I am, by nature, not a person who tends to look back. As much a fault as a strength.
But my curiosity was indeed piqued by this person who felt the need to reach out after decades.
“Did you ever speak again?”
“No. That was it.”
“It’s kind of sad, isn’t it?”
“The whole thing. How people who knew so much about us at one stage now know nothing about us at all.”
And that’s the thing I couldn’t shake; the sadness of it.
Or I was just reading too much into the entire situation?
Maybe, buoyed on by the courage of a few glasses she had just hit ‘send’.
We’ve all done it; hit ‘send’, ‘liked’ a post we shouldn’t have, ‘enquired’ after someone knowing full well that the info would be relayed back to the intended.
But those little bubbles of type on the screen told me otherwise.
“I can’t believe you are so into this!”
“It’s not that I’m ‘into’ it, I just…”
“I just want to ask her if she’s ok?”
“Don’t you even think about it!
“That’s it now, I’m cutting you off!”
“No, you have to reply. You can’t not.
“Just keep it light...”
And reply he did.
He said he was glad to hear she was doing well and a few other glib little assurances that make men squirm slightly; in the small talk sense.
The message was opened. Then ‘typing’ appeared on the screen. Then… nothing.
There it lies.
Just as unfinished for one person as it was years ago.
So, here’s the deal.
To my husband’s ex-girlfriend, if you are reading this, if you need to talk to him.
I don’t know the version of him that you knew but I really think you would like the version he has grown into.
If he is the person you need to talk to; please do. Because there is nothing worse than not being able to talk to anyone.
And know that I’m ok with that. And if it was just a case of hitting ‘send’ after gassing with the girls over a nice red…well, I’m ok with that too.
Lindsay overshares her life on Instagram @manolomummy.
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