Why is it when we talk about people that we have been intimate with, had children with, married in some cases and then parted from, we call them our exes? These once intimates seem to lose their identity and name and instead of being referred to as Tom, Dick or Harry take on the dubious title of ex. We speak of not only ex people but also (and I am guilty of this) soon to be exes as though we need to let everybody know our status in advance – perhaps a little presumptuous! But why do we use this ‘informal’ ,as it is called in the dictionary, term which seems to me to be anything but informal when there are ways which are so much better to describe these former loves and associates?
I have various exes – boyfriends, friends and husbands and depending on the nature of our parting they either take on the ex persona or they are still known by their given name. The two with whom I had my children, I bear no ill will towards and so they have been allowed to keep their own names – unless I am trying to explain who they are to others in which case they become the father of… all very confusing.
So taking the example of a friend of mine who has an ex by the splendid title of ‘The Fat Spaniard’ and with a nod to a certain American programme following the lives of four thirty something women I have decided on the following descriptive terms for certain exes and may well apply the formula to future ones…
There has always and will always be ‘The Nightmare Bastard from Hell’ – a man for whom no amount of headworking was too much. A man who very nearly destroyed my life and had a go at my soul too just for good measure. He was like a cat torturing a small animal – alternately playful and cruel and eventually, very eventually, I summoned up the strength to rid myself of him.
There is too the ‘Psycho Bitch’ an former friend with a serious personality disorder who became my very own bunny boiler following a claustrophobic intense relationship at the end of which she (yes she) virtually declared undying love. It was a sad but necessary end to what had become a re-run of Single White Female and I still dread bumping into her.
‘La Sorciere’ is the ex mistress of my employer who, for no apparent reason, took against me and accused me of various bizarre activities including sending naked photos of her to her current boyfriend, stealing her milk, damaging her car and poisoning her plants, none of which I hasten to add I did – she is now thankfully no longer in the country and probably accusing some poor Australian of God knows what. A true nutcase.
‘The Engineer’ was a holiday romance at the age of 17 and with whom I foolishly got in touch with some 25 years later expecting the romance still to be there. Nothing had changed in his life – same job, same hometown, same friends and a very unhealthy attitude towards women and relationships and so I consigned him back to memory where I really should have left him in the first place!
And then we have ‘The Golfer’, not quite an ex as yet but who will be as soon as the cheque hits the doormat. This is the man who broke my heart not once but twice and who is largely responsible for the vast amount of armour that the HC attempts to pierce on a daily basis. This is the man who I thought that I would spend forever with and who would hold my hand when we were little old people walking along the prom together. He told me that I would never be out there again, never be back on the shelf and he lied. He is a man who will never be happy, never be content with what he has and who will always be looking for something bigger and better. That is exhausting to live with, the ups and downs of a rollercoaster have nothing on him and in the end I could do it no longer. It was hard, very hard to make the decision to part despite the circumstances that we found ourselves in one fateful New Year’s Eve and in my heart I still feel guilty that I couldn’t do more to help him or us.
But at the end of all of this – first ‘ex’ prize must go to my mother who always gives my Dad his full title – even to us his children. He is always spoken of as ‘your father Laurence Bourne’ as though in some strange way we might have forgotten our provenance and this can be repeated ad nauseum throughout any conversation which may have only the most tenuous links to him. They parted 20 years ago and when you speak to her it’s as though it happened yesterday. My father Laurence Bourne definitely has the ex factor!
As I get older, thankfully the exes have got fewer and long may that scenario last. Some of our exes can wield huge power and influence over our lives either wittingly or unwittingly even when they are long gone. Some exes we have to keep in our lives because of children and other responsibilities and some we just never manage to shake off however hard we try. When we embark on any of these relationships we do so with hope and enthusiasm and it is a sad day when we have to throw them onto the ex pile, but like our wardrobes, sometimes we need to have a good clear out and get rid of what no longer fits, suits or does anything for us and that can be cathartic. Very cathartic.