I am not having as easy a time letting go of Mr. “You’re Not Marriage Material” as I’d like. It isn’t so much that I see him anywhere, or run into him, or talk to him. I don’t, times three. It’s that he is constantly lurking in my life, whether or not he realizes it. It’s certainly not intentional. But we share a rather large group of friends, most of whom I will recognize as having “belonged” to him well before we started our roller coaster. Some are new to both of us, some newer to him than to me, some newer to me than to him.

Very very recently, I got very very upset with a friend of mine for even mentioning his name and that he looked great while they were hanging out with each other. I didn’t talk to said friend for nineteen days, which, if you know me, is practically an eternity. Actually, I should rephrase that. I didn’t talk to him for nineteen days except to remind him occasionally in un-passive, entirely aggressive ways that I was mad at him. I am a jerk. I know. Even after I realized how terribly unnecessary and frankly juvenile my ire was, I was too mired in my madness to get out of it, so it took far too long for me to apologize and beg forgiveness, which was surprisingly forthcoming.

Another time I was picking up something from a friend who is very much like a brother to me, in that we love each other but constantly want to beat up on each other, and who also happens to be Mr. Marriage’s best friend. It was late at night, one of the first colder nights of the year, his iPhone rang out crisply from his pocket, and I knew without a doubt that it was him calling. I felt it in my stomach, in my throat, in my heart. Spidey-sense, radar, foregone conclusion: call it what you will. When he pulled out his phone, I asked him, without thinking, who it was. I don’t remember if a sigh was uttered or a shrug was proffered, but whatever gesture it was, was something along the lines of “you are already entirely aware of who it is.” I have never, ever beat a hastier retreat from a friend’s presence. If they could be deciphered, my parting words were, roughly, “okay,wellthengoaheadandtakethatcall,seeyalater,haveagoodnight,bye,” but they were without a doubt inaudible during my lightning-fast race to my car door.

So at some point I’ve got to come to terms with the fact that though he may not be in MY LIFE, he will always, somehow, be in my life, on the periphery. Not participating, just an innocent bystander. The only option to avoid this is to get rid of many of my friends, who I love dearly, even if I am a huge jerk to them on occasion/more often lately. Needless to say, that’s not really a viable solution.

For comparison, the man with whom I had my longest relationship so far is also living his life just barely outside mine: we work together. Not closely, and not often, but we did before, during, and after our relationship. Maintaining our proximal removedness is quite different than this will be, though, because we experienced neither the depth nor breadth of tumult that Mr. Marriage and I went through. We share few common friends outside of work, and our interactions are (thankfully) limited to pleasantries at the store and the occasional conversation about school. Even immediately after our breakup, I didn’t feel the ache and break I’m feeling this time around.

How does one deal with ghosts like these, who are out of one’s life but still hanging on to the edges, not of their own accord but entirely through circumstance?