Our first “anniversary” is approaching, and I think we have settled on deciding that our anniversary is the day we met in early December 2013 and it is likely that we will have an overnight hotel stay in the city where we met. Long-term readers will recall that the city we met was the place I lived for five years as a university student. It also happens to be the place that my ex-wife and I lived together for four years, and the place we got engaged.
During our most recent video Skype, Mirror Image confessed to having felt a little like an intruder into my memories and past when we met and the places we’ve visited that I went with my ex-wife. Because she lives 200 miles away, and most of the area in between us is an area my ex-wife and I knew very well, lived in and explored for 13 plus years (the holiday home that was sold last year is also in the general area, just 30 miles from my university city), it cannot be avoided that Mirror Image and I are going to visit areas I know from this past and she is very conscious of that.
She considers me her first proper boyfriend, she was not with her ex long enough for it to feel like a proper relationship and they never really went places, they never went on holiday together either. She wants to feel that our life together is one of exploring new places together and though the things we do and places we go are new to her, most are not that new to me. In that, she feels that she is intruding on or replacing my past memories and that they will never live up to my past life there – none of this is not true.
I have visited my university city four times in the last year: the first time to meet her for the first time, twice to see friends and fourth as a short stopover while travelling to see Mirror Image. I no longer think of this place as where I was in another past relationship, but she does. I love the city and always look forward to returning, but to reminisce about my wonderful student life, not my past relationship and what I lost. In the near future, I want to do a post on reclaiming places after the breakdown of a relationship – watch out for that.
Which brings me onto my ex-wife. A few months ago when Mirror Image and I were on holiday together, the ex-wife saw a number of photographs of us at a place that used to be dear to us, somewhere we visited several times. She was already in an emotionally fragile state because of something else, something unrelated, but to see me and somebody else at this place we fell in love with together upset her greatly, even though she was the one whose actions ended our marriage. I reassured her then that Mirror Image was not replacing the memories we made, but that I was forging new ones with somebody else – nobody could ever take away what we had and if I ever visit there with somebody else, nobody will replace the memories I made there with Mirror Image.
Similarly, I reassured Mirror Image when she felt she was interloping or that the memories we made would be less important to me because I was not doing these things and visiting these places for the first time, that our memories there were just as cherished, that they would not be easily forgotten, and that they were not secondary or less important because I had once shared some with somebody else at the same place.
Neither of these scenarios are true. My memories with my ex-wife remain memories and the fond memories I create now with Mirror Image will be just as fond. Uniqueness, the number of visits… none of this stuff matters. What matters is who I am with and whether it was a happy time.
Perhaps women are far more sensitive to these things and far more mindful of places and experiences that a new partner might have shared with a previous partner. Perhaps previous partners get upset in feeling their ex is trying to replace those memories and perhaps new partners feel that the previous memories get put on a pedestal. None of this is true, what matters is the memories you create now – so go an make some.