I did an unusual thing for my birthday this month. I invited a ghost from the past to my birthday. It was none other than my ex, with whom I had had a falling-out with a few years ago. Initially, my idea was met with resistance from my well-meaning friends who felt my decision would make me appear weak. Some said, “Do you want to be the one initiating reconciliation when it was clearly his fault?”
This is exactly where I felt I must have gone wrong a few years back. The minute I had decided the other person was at fault, I was not willing to be the one to make the first move to bury the hatchet. Isn’t it more important to be happy than to be right? Why did I need to win when arguing? Because ultimately when a bond breaks, both lose.
When I had a falling-out with my ex, I noticed it was easier for the mind to cling on to the bitter experiences while the good memories were getting selectively deleted from that biased archive vault within the brain. That is how fickle human nature is. The 10 good things that my ex may have done for me were being overshadowed by the three hurtful things that became larger and more powerful in my memory.
By extending an olive branch to the ex who had severed ties with me, I tried to bring in a reconciliation. A sense of closure. When I invited him, I was hoping that the scars would be put to rest and the battle that tore us apart would finally end. I felt that at least we could part ways after the reconciliation without any ill feelings, in a more graceful manner. Relationships are fragile. Each broken bond leaves behind shards of broken glass. Something breaks. It could be the heart, maybe the spirit, maybe the confidence to ask a new person out.
It made many of my current set of friends curious as they waited with bated breath to see if he was going to turn up to my party. A friend called me up and asked, “So how was your social experiment?” For me, it wasn’t an experiment. He was not a lab-rat. He had been my friend, philosopher and guide for as long as he had been a part of my life.
I think most of my friends were worried that if he didn’t turn up it would spoil my birthday so they tried to keep me distracted. I, on the other hand, had mentally braced myself for a win-win situation. If he showed up, it would be a win because it would mean we had gotten over the bad blood. But if he didn’t show up, it was still a win for me because I had learnt to practice and execute forgiveness in the best possible manner.
He did not show up at the birthday party. But at the stroke of midnight, when I had turned a year older and hopefully kinder, he did text me a ‘Happy Birthday! Have a good one.’
A single exclamation mark, that was quite unlike him. He was someone who always used two exclamation marks when happy or excited. I noticed the calibrated reaction from his end, a very measured move. Cautious. Wary. Maybe he assumed that if he showed up to the party, he would rekindle hopes in me and felt it best to stay away. Maybe he felt that the past did not deserve his time and effort. Maybe, he did not realise that pushing people away doesn’t make one stronger. If anything, it only makes one weaker because one is giving in to one’s fears and insecurities.
But I no longer get caught in these ‘maybes,’ because I have learnt that one should appreciate whatever little one gets and feel happy about it. I will his message as his way of waving the white flag of reconciliation and that has helped me find my peace. I do not hold any grudge against my ex.