In my last relationship, there were many a gifts that went from me to her over a span of two years; some of them, pocket friendly, but ripe with emotions - mushy cards, red roses and accessories - while the rest were designer clothes (including one whose picture she liked and which took me around three cities before I found it), gadgets, a Fendi bag, a Burberry clutch, an Omega watch, a gold coin embossed with our images with promises of eternal love and yes…a diamond ring amongst other things which also included a delicately created log book of our history- right from the time she said ‘hi’ to the present, something that took me a week to put together and sketch out.
About one and a half years into the relationship when turbulence kicked in, I clearly remember telling her “whatever you do, promise me that you won’t throw away whatever I have given you.” She said she would courier everything back but I made her promise that she wouldn’t think of doing such a thing, no matter what happened between us. May be in the heat of the moment she did make that promise but I could never be with her long enough to find out whether she actually kept it unlike her other promises. I was dumped overnight six months later, finding myself suddenly blocked out from everywhere. Back then, thinking of material stuff was the least of my concerns.
My best friend however suggested that I text her asking her to give back everything that I had given her. I told him that whatever I had given her or done for her was of my own free will and because of my love for her, there was no selfishness involved in any of my gestures. In a way, I meant at least those things would keep reminding her of me. Then my friend asked what I would do with the things she had given me, and I set about thinking. Apart from a lip balm which I never used for fear of throwing it away when it was done, a chocolate that never came out of the deep freezer and tickets of the first movie we saw together, I really didn’t have anything given by her in the material sense of things.
In a way that made me happy but as realisation dawned, I told my friend that it would have been better if I had things from her because they would be easy to dispose off but what I have is far worse - her memories! It’s relatively easy to dispose off material stuff but very difficult to delete a person from your mind completely. In The Eternal Sunshine of A Spotless Mind, Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet erase themselves from each other’s memories using a mechanical procedure and back then I so wanted this to be a part of the real world. With time however, I realised that the things you end up doing for yourself make you a stronger person, a better human being.
Back then with a heavy heart, I did delete all her pictures, voice notes, chats - the proofs of togetherness and the bond we shared, knowing that she had done the same a long time ago. As MRI scans show when faced with reminders of your ex, your mind activates the same areas that cause physical pain thereby prolonging your recovery. Any trace of the ex in your life is only going to hurt you and disturb your peace of mind which you need the most in a post breakup phase.
Sometimes we are not that strong to delete everything, especially in today’s world where a lot of memories lie on our computer hard drives and mobile phones and it’s okay to be momentarily weak as we are human after all and it’s humanity that makes us capable of loving the way we do. In such instances however, I suggest locking away all electronic records or transferring them to a different drive and handing it over to a friend with instructions not to give it back to you until you are strong enough to face the bitter past again. Yes, you would keep wondering when that time would come just like I still do wonder whether she threw away her signed copy of Truly Madly Deeply as well along with the other things unlike me who couldn’t even throw away a lip balm until today.