My separation from my son’s Father was far from amicable: there were mediators, lawyers, harsh words and tears. Finally, there was silence and quiet despair, the tangible leftovers of wreckage: dry mouth, a diminished appetite for anything but bed. There was a period of time that spanned over a year where the two of us exchanged almost no words. Monthly visitation was a horror: cockles were raised, hands clenched, each of us teetering on the verge of curse words, imaginary jabs, tears.
Two years into the split, and things are markedly better. There is still tension, of course, but there is also occasional affability: sometimes there’s even a shared chuckle. On Wednesday mornings, I arrive at his home to snooze on the couch until our son wakes up, so my ex can get to an early start at work. He lets me take his dog for runs with me — my ex-dog, actually, the canine we both love.
There aren’t many things the two of us have done that well together (besides help create our astonishingly cool little boy) - but one area we’ve excelled at is respect, when it comes to one another’s love lives. I know my ex has had girlfriends since our split. We have mutual friends and I’ve reluctantly listened to breathless recounts of his conquests. And, he would likely know that I’ve also dipped my toe in the dating scene - all he would have to do is google my name and this column would come up. But he doesn’t care to know, and neither do I. If he is visiting a girlfriend, he says he’s with a “friend.” If I’m on a date, I say I’m going grocery shopping. We don’t care to pour salt into each other’s wounds by flaunting our sex lives in each other’s faces, and for that, really, I’m proud of us.
We are moving upward, onward: it’s true that the opposite of hate is apathy. I actually kind of hope for love for him again, I think it softens people. In any case, falling in love is never a horrible thing. We’re not exactly comrades, but we’re tentatively polite and that’s a great start. Enough of a start, I wonder, to be his Facebook friend?
Facebook torments me sometimes by putting the picture of my ex in the sidebar, telling me that he is a “person I might know.” I studiously ignore that: I do not wish to see his wall, thanks. But. It occurred to me that my ex has very few pictures of his son. I’m camera happy, and have millions, and post them frequently for friends and family to see.
“Maybe I’ll set Nolan up a Facebook account,”I say to my ex,”And you can friend him. That way, when I tag him in pictures, you’ll be able to see them. Without, you know, having to be my friend.”
So I diligently went to work, setting up a mini-account for our son, so my ex can partake in the joys of our son’s life without having to witness mine. But, there are drawbacks to that scenario: when he accepts our son as a “friend” he also accepts me by proxy, and there are potential awkward pixelated moments hovering at every corner.
It’s odd, the Facebook thing. It spells out more than I want to know, most of the time. It details events I never would have been privy to: that I might have been better for not knowing. My ex and I have several mutual friends: those that have chosen to like us both, even when we didn’t like each other. But that - and the fact that we created a life - is not potent enough to render us pals in cyberspace.
Maybe one day the path of the past will be distant and foggy enough that my ex and I will be Facebook buddies. For now, I will ignore that “People You May Know” button and continue to attempt to forge a superficial bond that will, at the very least, display to our son that exes can be respectful outside the computer, Facebook friends or not.
I am curious - are you friends with your ex on Facebook? Are ex-boyfriends more acceptable friendship fodder than ex spouses?