Growing up, my thoughts on the matter of dealing with exes generally went something like this:
A year or so ago, my approach to the matter changed when I figured it didn’t hurt to be friendly with my exes. We didn't have to be friends but we could be friendly, right? Why not? After all, this was someone I often spent a significant amount of time with; someone who existed during periods of my life where I grew into the person I am now; someone I truly cared about at one point. I didn’t care to become best friends with them but considering I had long since moved on from the time in my life when we were together and literally had the same emotional attachment to them as I had to an insect, I had no qualms with catching up, seeing how the other was doing, exchanging pleasantries, and wishing each other the best. Life is hard. At the end of the day, we should be adults and do our best to help and support those who are and have been in our life, right?
They’re called ex-es because you’ve ex-ited their life. They’re called ex-es because they no longer ex-ist in your life. They’re called ex-es because they’re ex-actly what you didn’t need. They’re called ex-es because it was ex-hausted. They’re called ex-es because... you get the point.
I had one such ex in my life. I cut him out of my life because he was a cancerous tumor, growing and metastasizing; a parasite that latched on and sucked me dry, robbing me of emotional strength, time, and everything else that was valuable to me. But despite how things ended, I continued rooting for his success and happiness. My girlfriends rooted for him. I continued to validate and excuse his incredibly shitty behavior because I genuinely felt bad for him and he already had so much going against him without me wishing a wrath of unhappiness and destruction to rain down upon him. I felt a need to protect him in a way, because I knew he was deeply troubled — a broken person who suffered from post traumatic stress disorder, self-confidence issues, substance abuse, and depression. Except he wasn’t depressed; he was selfish. These two are often mistaken and confused for the other. He was selfish when we were together, he was selfish when he refused to let me go to live my life, and his selfishness manifested itself, again, when he drunk dialed and texted me despite having a girlfriend; when he tried to once again involve me in his fucked up world of excuses and twisted rationalizations, years later, when all I tried to do was be a friend.
Despite my cynicism in humanity, I’m always trying to find the good in people; always searching for redeeming qualities to prove me otherwise. I suppose the same way an artist picks up pieces of trash and tries to find the beauty in it.
While I recognize and understand the desire to be a better person, a good person — someone who wants to revive, reclaim, and redeem people — you are allowed to walk away from people who do not respect you. You don't owe anyone an explanation for taking care of yourself. Respect yourself to know you made the right decision in deciding who was not worthy of remaining in your life. Because sometimes, a piece of trash will always be just that — a piece of trash.