Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Omniscient Exes (and how they took over my life)

Not to get too literary for you guys two days in a row (see our book club post from yesterday) but one of my all time favorite books is The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera.  It's about four people, two couples, all very tortured and dysfunctional.  Totally my kind of read.

Anyway: towards the end of the book, Kundera writes "we all need someone to look at us.  We can be divided into four categories according to the kind of look we wish to live under."

Category #1: an infinite number of anonymous eyes (i.e. the public). Basically, this is people who want to be famous.

Category #2: looked at by many known eyes.  Basically, the people that need to be the center of attention at every party they go to.

Category #3: people who constantly need to be before the eyes of the person they love.  Basically, people that are super co-dependent. (Kundera writes: "Their situation is as dangerous as the situation of people in the first category.  One day the eyes of their beloved will close and the room will go dark.")

Category #4: People who live in the imaginary eyes of those who are not present.  Kundera calls these people the dreamers.

I read this book in my early twenties and I had a total epiphany when I got to this passage.  At the time, I belonged to category #4.  No one had ever articulated this into words for me.  Stop me if I sound crazy (um, I'm a dreamer not crazy) but during a break up with someone I still had feelings for-- a lot of my actions were motivated by this weird thought that they were privy to everything I was doing.  Even though they obviously weren't.

In the book, the character of Franz who belongs to category #4 goes to a march in Cambodia, because he knows that it's something his ex-lover would have wanted to do.  And then shit gets really real when he gets there.  Read the book, I'm not gonna give it away. 

But I was just like Franz!  Sophomore year in college, I waited in line for four hours to buy movie tickets to the Phantom Menace, even though I was not really a die-hard Star Wars fan.  But my ex was.  I finally got over him and I still haven't seen episodes two or three.

When I lived in New York, I would some times put on an outfit and wonder what my ex would think of it.  Like, if we ran into each other: would he think I looked cute?  This might seem normal considering how easy it can be to run into people in New York City.  Only he lived in California.

I've even so much as gone to concerts of bands that old boyfriends have liked.  Or read books of writers they've recommended.  All after we were together.  Mind you, this was a time before Facebook.  These days, if you're still friends with an ex on Facebook, what I was doing might be the equivalent of purposely posting certain pictures, hoping they'll see it or putting a little extra thought into a status update, because you know they might read it.  I think that might need its own category:  People who need the eyes of their Facebook friends on them. 

Anyway: have you ever done anything post break-up, because you thought your ex's imaginary eyes were watching?  Comment below so I don't feel like the only crazy one.

1 comment:

  1. Loved this post! I'm definitely a Category 1 most of the time (whoops!). But I feel like I meander between 2 & 4 depending on where my relationship status/self-esteem are at the moment. Looking forward to reading the book.