They Say It's Your Birthday

Oh, the birthday of an ex. It's a weird day, right? It's difficult, if not impossible, not to think of them. Even without the reminder of Facebook, I would still remember them because for years they were important dates, days I spent planning dinners out, baking (ok, more likely ordering) cakes, and wrapping presents. And it's weird not to wish them a happy birthday. The other 364 days of the year, it seems perfectly acceptable to act as if the person doesn't exist in your world, but on a birthday, it's hard to ignore them. Or, I guess what I mean is on any other day, it really isn't ignoring them, but birthdays are different. 

So, when SCL's birthday was on the horizon, naturally I began to think about him and last January 21, 2010. He and I spent the evening at a nice Indian restaurant in Old Town, and later cuddled up on the couch with full glasses of wine and indulgent slices of chocolate cake. I had put together an album of our pictures from St. Lucia,  and we looked through them, recalling the the feeling of closeness, of intimacy, of the fun we'd shared there. Even though things between us had probably already begun to deteriorate, it was a good day, which is a dangerous thing when you're looking for a sign of hope that things will finally be fine again. 

When I look back at who I was to SCL, I see myself as the one who nurtured him, who looked out for him, who made sure he got out and did fun things because it hardly ever occurred to him that doing so was important. And even now it's hard for me to break out of that mindset. I worried, would he have a lonely day? Who would buy him a cake? Would he go out to dinner? Would anyone besides his mom wish him a happy birthday? Sure, it isn't my responsibility to make sure these things happen, but there's part of me that still cares.

I didn't buy him a gift or even a card. I didn't send his friends a message to remind them of his birthday. I didn't plan a happy hour or a group dinner or make him a Duncan Hines cake. But when he called to see if  I wanted to come over for a bit, I said sure. We ordered some pizza (I paid), some beer and ice cream (he paid) and watched Big Love together. It was nothing like last year--there were no kisses or fancy wine or getting dressed up. But, it was good to spend time together, as exes attempting to be friends.

Maybe we'll make the friend thing work after all. . 


  1. Oh yes. I feel ya. Every August 14th I think of my ex. Oddly he's the only one. And oddly we were never an actual couple during his birthday.

    It sounds like you two are moving in the friend direction. Good for you!

  2. Good for you for being able to be friendly with your ex. I do know how much of an interesting emotional experience it is when a birthday rolls around. It's not necessarily bad, but well, fuckin' weird.

  3. well, if you feel up to it and it doesnt make you sad. If not, give it some more time, you are not obligated

  4. ugh, my Ex's Bday is such a pain and I hate that I actively don't do anything for it.

    Almost worse is my Bday, because then I have to figure out what to do if he calls or texts.

  5. Sounds strange to me that a guy would choose to spend his bday with this ex as opposed to hanging out with friends. I'm friends with my ex and we don't spend my or his bday together. Glad you had a good time and all, but I would proceed with caution. You haven't been broken up ALL that long and it's easy to fall back into the pattern of being hurt and confused by spending time with the ex.

  6. @Krysten--I know, there's no way to erase the date from your mind! There are a lot of other things I'd like to fill my brain with than ex's birthdays, but yet they are still there.

    @Divorced Guy--I'm definitely trying, sometimes more successful than others. I've found that the better I feel about myself, the easier it is to interact with him. But when my self-esteem is in the toilet, it's much tougher.

    @doll--The only way it made me sad was that he didn't have other people to hang out with.

    @Courtney--right? Doesn't it feel kind of shitty? I know it shouldn't, but birthdays are a big deal to me, so it feels bad not to acknowledge it in some way.

    @betsy--For a guy with friends, it would be weird, but SCL doesn't have many friends. I would be surprised if any of them even knew it was his birthday. He can be a pretty anti-social guy; he spent the day working on his motorcycle instead of hanging with friends. He's a weird one.

  7. So did he invite you around because he has no friends and nobody else gave a shit about his birthday? You're better off.

  8. I love your blog. January 23rd is my ex's birthday. Except I didnt call or visit. I spent the day thinking of him but after 4.5yrs of the up's and down I figured it was best to not call and try to finally move on this time. I'll continue to read your blog to see how you guys navigate into being friends for inspiration.

  9. @jane--I don't think anyone else even knew it was his birthday. I tried to ask him about it, but he didn't want to talk about it. And if there's one thing I've learned I don't have to do for him anymore is be his emotional support.

    @Anon--It's definitely tough. I think I've moved on in some ways and not others. It hasn't been that long for us, but we're trying to figure it out. I'm glad you're reading!

  10. I honestly want to know how YOU felt. Was it something that was good for you, or did it make you feel wistful and sad after you left him.

    I am not sure enough time has passed for you to do the friendship thing. Obviously there are feelings on both sides for him to call you, and for you to want to see him, and admit that it's definitely tough. If you feel that way, you probably can't be just least not yet.

    Can I ask you if the attraction is still there and the desire to have it be more than friends? Do you kind of fantasize about getting back together?

    I ask this because my ex is hinting about seeing each other (we email about every 2 wks and keep in touch on a friendly but not too personal level) and I am so torn! I want to see him, but I know the feelings will still be there, and I am so afraid of what could potentially happen. And even if he doesn't come on to me, will it be good for me to continue to see him knowing that we will never have anything that will be long term.

    I know we can never have what we had in the past. It is different now. The old feelings are gone, and it could never be as good.

    Do you feel that way at all? Do you still want in some way to have back what you had, or have you come to terms with moving on?

  11. Oh no. No no no no no.
    'Just sayin', you might get yourself in a sticky situation here with this whole being-friends-with-an-ex-who-hurt-you-badly. The again, my warnings are entirely based on my own experiences of getting burned.

    Be careful. So careful.

  12. You and I went out to brunch the following day, so I know you're good with all this. I'll just chime in here to say congrats on being able to be friends with an ex, because in my experience I have not only burned bridges with them, I have set whole towns on fire and never looked back. Your way of doing things is probably more mature.

  13. @felisha--Those are a lot of deep, intimate questions you've asked! I may take on some of them in a future post. But, I will say right now that the thing that has changed is that there's no trust there anymore, and that's killed a lot of the chemistry I felt for him.

    @iris--I hear you. I really do. I'm navigating this one step at a time.

    @Katie--Thanks, friend IRL. :-)

  14. This sounds nice. I think I've given up on trying to be friends with my ex. For us, it hasn't been possible. But I'd be lying to say I don't still miss his friendship occasionally. I just wish I could surgically separate the friendship from all his bullshit! :)

  15. Wow, I'm impressed. I was never able to do this even though I always wanted to. I just find that there are always so many emotions following a breakup and, for me anyway, it was always very painful to see my ex. But as long as you're in a good place with this and that you are putting your needs ahead of all else, then I see nothing wrong with seeing the ex and carrying on a strictly platonic friendship going forward.