A Reminder to Shut the Door on Your Ex

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Photo by Kate Kozyrka on Unsplash

“He always comes back.”

I’ve heard this line many times from women after a break-up, taking pride in the fact that the ex who left them contacted them again or even asked to get back together. They feel flattered thinking that their ex couldn’t get over them and there must be something special about the relationship that it wouldn’t just end.

Admittedly, I was one of those women.

When an ex broke up with me, I would reassure myself that they would come around again. When they did, even if it was just a missed call at a thirsty hour, I took it as a compliment. I felt like I was winning because they were thinking about me and missed me. My dumpee ego was soothed. On the other hand, if they didn’t reach out to me, I felt sad and negative about myself.

Now, after a year of therapy and intensive self-work, I’ve fortunately opened my eyes to why my thinking was misguided and found my way before it was too late.

Here’s what I’ve learned.


The Loupedeck is a video editing console. I neither shoot video nor know how to edit it but I gave the device serious consideration. I thought it might be nice to decorate my home with a Vestaboard, which is like an old train schedule board — the technical term is “split-flap display.” I could put different messages on the board every day, maybe something sweet and romantic for my wife, or, if we were having friends over, I could write a greeting to them and they would feel welcomed. It took a great deal of self-control to close that browser tab. It really did.

I also refrained from buying a vintage leather boxing heavy bag with matching gloves. I refrained from buying the Quiet Punch workout system because I was not convinced it was actually quiet. I passed on Japanese cast iron cookware, carbon steel kitchen knives, all kinds of face masks, weighted blankets, bullet planners, motivational planners, productivity notepads, and all kinds of notebooks. I already have so many notebooks, too many notebooks, really, but can a writer ever have too many? My bookshelves suggest yes, but my heart says no.

There have been far too many times when I did not resist temptation. I gave into it, and gladly. Did you know there are Post-it notepads that, as you use the notes, they begin to reveal intricate paper sculptures? They are lovely. I have one of a Japanese garden in Kyoto. I bought a charging valet for my devices. Valet makes it fancy, you see. I have several survival kits, emergency supply kits, and a medic kit because I love intricate first aid kits with useful supplies that I will probably never use. But should calamity strike, I will be ready, no matter what room I am in. I will be able to help anyone in need. For once I will feel useful.

It’s amazing how much useless stuff there is in this world and how easily we can convince ourselves that we need it.

The DIY Watch Club is not really a club, but you can buy watchmaking kits from them. I thought it might be a fun way to fill an afternoon, assembling a watch. I would feel like a craftsperson, skilled, competent. I haven’t finished building a watch yet, but that option is available to me. Someday, soon, I will make a watch I will likely never wear because I don’t enjoy wearing watches. They make me feel claustrophobic. Alas.

It’s amazing how much useless stuff there is in this world and how easily we can convince ourselves that we need it. Actually, it’s disheartening. It’s a problem. There is too much stuff in the world and so much of it is overpriced and unnecessary and contributing to the planet’s demise. On better days, I try to divest myself of being acquisitive, but not every day is a better day.

I do not camp, but I would love a fire-starting kit just in case I need to light a fire somewhere for some reason. Or maybe I need a backpack that transforms into a chair or a tripod desk for my laptop even though I have a perfectly functional four-legged desk. Or maybe I need a pocket tripod for those times when I want to be like a professional photographer and get the perfect shot wherever I am. There is, in fact, a vigorous market for professional-grade photo and video equipment — a stabilizer so you can film tracking shots, backdrops for photo shoots, special lenses, and reflecting discs.

Do I need a device with which I can make plant-based milk even though it sounds pretty unappetizing? Probably! If I wanted to garden, I could buy a seed sheet, place it on some soil, add water, wait and see. I could also get a vertical garden wall to feel like I am living in Star Trek: Voyager. If you want to save the planet, you can buy premium bamboo toilet paper, though I am not entirely clear on how making toilet paper from one kind of tree instead of another benefits the earth. If you want to step up your quotidian household goods game, you can get fancy power cords and surge protectors. Kintsugi is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery and as such there is a kit available if you’re feeling capable.

There is a brisk market for caddies — a bedside caddy to store your remotes and books and other nighttime paraphernalia, a sink caddy to help you store all the things you want to include in your sink, and a travel caddy for your car to keep all of the vehicular detritus that accumulates in your glove compartment. If you enjoy snacks with an international flair, you can avail yourself of a Japanese snack subscription. For your hands, buffalo hide work gloves. For your porch, a customizable doormat. Or you can get a raised gaming platform, magnetic strip lights, sparkly solar lights, a Korean barbecue kit, a tool for drawing a perfect circle, a scanner to identify colors, a pillow to help with better sleep and keeping up your sex drive, and I could go on, endlessly.

If you have the means, nearly everything is available to you by way of Instagram ads. You can buy things you don’t really need, and when each purchase arrives, there is a momentary rush of pleasure as you open the box and hold what you told yourself you simply had to have, in the palm of your hands. Just as quickly, that rush fades and you are holding onto something you don’t need and don’t really want. The numbness wears off and you are left feeling everything.

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