A few days ago, on my 24th birthday, I transformed into the happy, female version of Ebenezer Scrooge. Well, I seriously felt like him at least, when I was visited by the ghosts of Christmas past my failed relationships, after we'd had no contact for months.
On March 10, I opened my Pisces eyes with mixed feelings about turning 24, but never did I wake up thinking that my past loves would be the ones to usher me into my future.
With each text I received, I made a new realization.
Here are five love epiphanies I had when all of my exes texted me on my birthday:
1. People can care about you, but they can be too stubborn or selfish to actually be in your life.
At 1:51 am, I got my second happy birthday greeting, and of course it was from him. He doesn't have me added on any social media, so I know he had no notification pop up saying, "It's Jessica's birthday!" Nope. He remembered purely because it's him, and he still cares about me.
When we're young, relationships are like playing with fire. Since we don't actually know what we're doing yet, we wind up giving and receiving third-degree burns that stay with us, and our partners, for life.
With this ex, both of us f*cked up, big time. But before messing up, we were practically married. We slept next to each other every night for three and a half years. He would come with me to the doctor, and I would go with him to the gym. He would pick me up from the airport, and I would drop him off at school. I would make him pasta, and he would make me ramen. We were a team. Unfortunately, team members sometimes have to get traded.
In the end, we realized that we'd met too young. He became selfish. He wanted his time to do his own thing. He also cared more about what his friends thought about us than he did about me, so he became too stubborn to fix our problems. It happens, but his text made me realize that like a good pseudo ex-husband, he'll always have my back. Despite this, his absence reminded me that my back will belong to someone else.
2. You really can love someone from afar.
At 9:30 am, I got my second text from an ex. Our relationship was short-lived for many reasons. But when he texted me, I honestly just hoped he was okay.
It's common that people have to go their separate ways because one person has to do some self-improvement. What is uncommon is when someone is in dangerous need of a spiritual makeover. Some people truly need to rip the pages out of their lives and start with a blank slate. When this happens all we can do is genuinely wish them well -- from very far away.
3. Your past ages right along with you.
Finally, at 11:55 pm. I got a happy birthday text from my very first ex. Our relationship was innocent. We dated for a little while in middle school, and we actually still see each other at our junior-high get-togethers. It's both rare and nice that we got to watch each other grow up over the years, even if that meant growing apart first.
It's funny how years and years can pass, but you can still replay a certain scene in your head like it was yesterday. The scene I think of is our first kiss, when he purposely hit a baseball over a fence to sneak out and see me. Like a movie, the ball landed right at my feet, and then he went for it.
His text turned the reels of that cinematic scene in my head. And it reminded me that time and distance don't erase the effect you've had on people, or the memories you've made together. No matter what happens in your future, your first kiss will always be your first kiss.
4. People make mistakes, but mistakes don't make you a bad person.
I hurt some of my exes in the same way that they hurt me. But pain means growth. Love is painful because it's a rough learning process. Hurting each other wasn't intentional, but it's bound to happen when you're young and stupid.
Yet despite the fact that we used to throw stones at each other, the fact that all of my exes texted me made me realize that they still remember and care for me as much as I remember and care for them. More importantly, the texts strengthened my confidence in my belief that I am a good person, because if they could wish me well, and mean it, after everything, they must believe that I am a good person too.
(That doesn't mean that if you don't get a text from an ex that you're a bad person, but it definitely helps you reaffirm yourself when you do.)
5. Your exes can be out of your life, but still be very much apart of you.
Our exes are important characters in our story, even if they don't appear in the ending. When I am having an exceptionally horrible day I think of what my ex would say to me to cheer me up since he could read me with clearer eyes than I could myself.
It's absolutely heartbreaking that we are not together, but I'm lucky I have these memories. I can still hear his voice resound in my head, or picture how he would cradle me in his arms like a newborn at night. And even though you can't go back to these type of moments, you can always look back, and that's still kind of nice.
Besides, everything happens for a reason. The people that leave footprints on your heart are sometimes the same people who walk away. But the people that leave only deepen your appreciation for those that stand by you. And thankfully, the people of your past prepare you for the person of your future.