What I Learned From Drunk-Texting An Ex

William Iven

I committed the cardinal millennial sin and drunk-texted an ex. And I don’t regret it.

But let me explain, let me explain…

I’m not trying to be an ambassador for drunk-texting here. I’ve always been one of those people who actively avoids it, to the point where I’ve been known to give friends full custody of my phone as soon as the Prosecco cork gets popped.

But this was different.

I hadn’t seen the guy in months, much less spoken to him, yet I was still thinking of him every day. Quite insanely. I’d been tempted to text him dozens of times before, but dignity, willpower, and a little bit of stubbornness had always prevailed. I figured if he wasn’t going to text me, then I wasn’t going to text him, either.

I thought time would make it easier, but instead it only got harder. I missed him too much to be stubborn anymore.

But still, I kept myself from texting him. As much as I missed him I knew we weren’t at that place where we could just casually text one another. After all this time it would be way awkward, and he despises awkwardness, so I kept to my silence. And I would have kept on keeping to it, if it wasn’t for the fact that I happened to see him—the real him, and not just the figment that existed in my imagination. He just walked right past me.

Out of all the times I’d wished to bump into him—where I looked great, smelled great, and knew exactly what I wanted to say—I saw him at a time when I wasn’t at all prepared. (Proof that things do happen when you least expect them.) It was sprung on me so quickly I didn’t have time to plan what to do, I had to just go with my instinct.

Surprisingly, it told me to walk away. That very same instinct that had been making me think of him for all of those months, that made me believe we’d be perfect together, was telling me to walk away from him. So I did. Quietly, casually—as though he wasn’t the person I’d been thinking of for months. As though he wasn’t anybody I ever knew at all. I just strolled past pretending that I hadn’t seen him, and he just pretended he hadn’t seen me. But we both knew. We both always knew.

Those first few steps made me feel proud. Walking away from him was potentially the only cool thing I’d ever done in my life. But the further I got away from him, the more my heart started to experience this inexplicable, unfamiliar feeling. Almost like it was violently flipping around inside my chest.

The romantic affair we had was a lot of things; it was wild, it was confusing, it was powerful—but above all, it was real. For months he had existed only in my head, but in that flash—when he was right next to me and I was right next to him—it would have been all too easy to make it real again. And yet I walked away.

Nothing about that felt like the right thing.

I kept playing the moment back in my head, thinking I should have gone over to him, getting ideas of all the things I could have said. I know I could have made him laugh—I always could. That night I composed a message to him, explaining why I’d purposely had to avoid him, but stopped just short of pressing send.

The next night—after thinking of him all day—it wasn’t so easy. My head was light from too much alcohol and too little food, and so all of the dignity, willpower and stubbornness that I’d been holding on to completely evaporated. I just wanted to text him.

I checked my phone and saw that he was online, so I wrote out a message and quickly hit send. There was no way I was talking myself out of it this time. TED JOB

I kept my eyes fixed on my screen as the message got delivered and kept them there as it changed to read. For better or worse, he had seen it. I’d forced him to remember me; now all I had to do was wait.

Ten seconds passed, twenty seconds, thirty seconds…still no response or attempt to type.
I started saying to myself, Maybe he’s thinking? Maybe he’s planning out the perfect response. It’s been so long since we spoke it’s obviously going to require some serious thought. He was always one for overthinking anyway, even when it was clinically obvious that I was obsessed with him.

Five minutes passed, and still nothing.

It doesn’t take this long to think. But screw him, I don’t want him to text me anyway. Although, in his defense, it’s not like I sent him something that needs a response. I just sent him a statement—no question marks. Next time I’ll have to specifically ask him a question so he has to reply. Then again, if he texts me just this once I won’t need him to text me again. Just, please, let him text me now.

After another five minutes the sad reality dawned on me. I’m never going to speak to him again.

Then after another five minutes I took a deep breath and calmly said to myself, Okay. I’m never going to speak to him again.

It wasn’t until after all of that—when I started to write this down—I realized that was the five stages of grief, fast-tracked. It was what I needed to go through to get closure.
Before that he was gone, but he wasn’t really gone. He still existed in my head every single day, with me kidding myself into thinking that there might someday be a blissful reconciliation. But after he ignored my silly drunken message it was obvious that was never going to happen.

The hardest part for me wasn’t that he didn’t respond, it was picturing his face when he saw my name on his screen. I naively thought he would have a beaming smile—like the kind I always used to give him—but instead he probably saw it and thought, Urgh, what does she want? Or, even worse, he saw it and felt pity for me. Like, Aww, hun. You okay there? Missing me a little bit, are ya?

It’s not a great thought to sit with me, but at least it’s one that has given me a full stop. Up until that point we had an abstract, nonexistent kind of ending, where instead of closing the book we just faded out of each other’s lives. It always made me believe the door was still open, if only a little bit. This blatant ignoring of my message was the abrupt slamming of the door ending I needed.

Obviously it was disappointing, but I wasn’t sad. I couldn’t be sad. Technically nothing had changed, other than my own expectations were now in line with reality instead of being entirely imaginary. He was really gone, and it was as simple as that.

I didn’t sleep brilliantly that night, I never do when I’ve been drinking, but when I woke up I was completely sober.

The wine was all out of my system. He was all out of my system. And that was worth everything. TC mark

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