This week is an ex’s birthday. Three months ago, we agreed to never speak again. We have made similar oaths in the past and broken them. This time feels slightly more permanent if only because we no longer live in the same city.
For the past seven days, I have brewed over breaking our silence to send a short, courteous “Happy birthday!” After all, while we swore it was over, we also assured ourselves that no one was mad, this was just healthiest. Insert eye roll emoji.
By these rules, I should not send a message on her birthday. Also, according to pride and dignity, I should not reach out. Fittingly, my pride is one of my biggest prides—and arguably a large contributing factor to the demise of our relationship / friendship / whatever you want to call it, which fuels suspicion that I should swallow my pride, shuck the rules, and send a short “Happy birthday!” I won’t even include her name in the missive. After all, to err is to be mortal, and I am reminded of my mortality everyday.
On my most recent birthday, I was most curious if two exes in particular would reach out. Yes, one of those two is the woman whose birthday is this week (duh).
I did not expect to hear from the one, but was piqued if she did. We only “ended” things a month before my birthday. I place end in quotes because we never really ended; we just ceased communicating. I knew, even if she didn’t remember my birthday, my friends’ posts would spill into her social media feed. Ultimately, I did not hear from her—but then I learned that on my birthday she experienced a near-death event that also consumed her phone, so even if she had wanted to reach out, she would have been unable. I still don’t think she would have reached out.
As for the ex who inspires this week’s pondering, we were supposed to be on amicable terms. Friends in fact. Though the type of friendship you’re hiding from other friends due to judgment and mistrust over if you’re “actually just friends” (“how long will this last?” is the byline).
When I went to sleep on my birthday, I had not heard from this ex. I felt fine, if not resigned, about this—but then I awoke to her message: “I hope you did something excellent today, Cazey.” Sent at 11:55 PM.
Was this a threat? A well wish? Did it arguably have anything to do with my birthday? Had she waited all day to send this text? Five minutes to midnight is cutting it a little close, sweetie.
I decided not to respond. I didn’t screenshot it to a single friend for 12 hours while I processed what the f*ck she actually meant.
For the longest time, I intended to post a general photo of myself on her birthday that displayed the grandeur of my best life with the caption, “I hope everyone is doing something excellent today.” Passive aggression is a passion project of mine.
A week ago, while nodding off and replaying way too many memories, the bolder play came to me: I should send a happy birthday text. There, I’ve shown my cards. I cannot pretend my contact comes from purity and kindness, but who is my ex to challenge a simple happy birthday that she couldn’t even extend on the anniversary of my spin around the sun? Indeed, my birthday text could be a short lesson in how to maturely say happy birthday to someone you used to have feelings for.
The next day, I Googled, “Should I wish my ex happy birthday?” Unfortunately, the SEO on this search has been well mined, and this blogpost will join a trove of self-help posts that advise, “F*CK NO, DO NOT CONTACT YOUR EX, YOU MISERABLE A-HOLE, WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?” This post, however, has the originality to suggest that maybe it isn’t that bad of an idea. Every other post tells you in their very headline, “Don’t do it.” Gosh, they sound like my friends.
The consensus is that reaching out to your ex on their birthday suggests wanting to reconnect (never! I mean, maybe), being evil (ha!), or being emotionally dense (well, I’m not that). The best advice I garnered was, if you actually want to reach out, why wait until their birthday? And I mean, really, why wait? Still waiting for my answer.
At worst (and I think they mean best), I will inspire my ex to admit she misses me and/or ruin her birthday. Are these not win-wins? Also included in the online guidance is, don’t reach out if you’re not over them, and it’s pretty self-evident I check that box.
I laughed when one article said, “And it’s never just happy birthday. There’s always a ‘I hope you’re doing well.’” I don’t know how they read my mind, because I fully intended to say, “Hi, I just wanted to say happy birthday, and I hope you’re well.” I’m on the fence about punctuation (exclamation point? Nothing?) and maybe using an em dash instead of a comma before the and. Grammar really helps ground my delusions. I also have the option to mention her age, but reminding her that she’s left her 20s might be more provocative than my text alone.
What do I hope to gain from this? Closure? She either won’t respond, or she’ll say, “Thanks, Cazey,” or she’ll say thanks and ask how I’m doing, or she’ll tell me to find a ditch and bury myself ( join me?). Admittedly, none of these are closure, but shortsightedness is more fulfilling than what-if’s.
Of course, the most excellent thing to do would be to do nothing, and perhaps that will win out. But we need to wait until 11:55 PM on her birthday.
Epilogue: I did not text her happy birthday. Ever.