On a recent journey to work with my husband, we enjoyed a rather more lively conversation than normal. We are a one car family and our morning routine on my work days involves us dropping the kids off and then travelling together to our respective offices. Usually we have bits of generally mundane life chat, me making lists of what we need to do, both of us remembering things we will probably forget later, or if we are tired, we will sit quietly save for the interruption of me searching for a good song on the radio.
On this particular morning our discussion began with me talking about an old and very dear friend of mine who had recently had a baby and the discussion ended up with us talking about my first love. My husband has never met my friend, because we moved away from my home town not long after we became a couple and over the years life has got in the way and we have never managed to meet up. But we have kept in contact and I have told my husband a lot about her, which is how we ended up on that normally uneventful car journey talking about my love life, and as we arrived at the car park at my office, my husband was laughing at how much he now knew, that he didn't before, and also the fact that the soundtrack to this part of the journey was Adele's 'When We Were Young'. Cringe.
So, as is the way with these things, I started thinking about my previous life. By previous, I don't mean I am the reincarnation of Marilyn Monroe, although, wouldn't that be something.
I mean my life before I met my husband and my life before we had kids.
I don't know about you but my husband and I have never really had the conversation about former great loves. Not even in the early days of our relationship when conversation was deeper than "We need to fix the bath panel this weekend." Now this isn't to say we didn't know about each other's love lives. We did, of course, but factual details only; who our previous significant others were, how long we were together, that sort of thing. Sometimes we even dropped the odd faux pas - "Remember when we saw this at the cinema?" "No, we never saw this at the cinema." "Oh." But the full-on detail was never shared. Why do we do that? Why do we not share those important details about people in our past and how they made us feel? Is it because we think that by sharing these details we are diminishing what we have now? Or are we scared to admit we felt for somebody else once, with the same passion we now feel for our current partners?
My old friend met her husband one night 17 years ago, when we were fresh-faced, skinny 18 year-olds drinking Malibu and Coke in the pub. She met him, I met his friend and it was his friend who was to take the part in my life of First Love. His name was Stewart. He was a tall, lean man who, although only three years older than me, seemed much older. He was a bit of a wrong'un. He sold cars for a living, he drove too fast. He smoked bad stuff. He fancied himself as a bit of a DJ and a connoisseur of all things old school. My parents hated him. He was my 'bad boy' and I fell hopelessly in love with him. Ultimately the universe had a different plan for me that didn't involve making my life with him. But in the story of my life he played a big part.
I'm a big believer that things happen as they should, for various reasons, and they take you to the place you should end up. So the people I meet in life are all part of my story and I might be part of theirs too. We all make each other's histories and we shape each other, so why do we feel when we meet a new partner that we have to make our previous lives appear less important? Why do we not talk about the people we have known as partners and lovers? And how do we approach this when our children are old enough to to understand about relationships? Do we tell them about our previous loves? Do we tell them about how we behaved in our youth? Or are we frightened that they will do as we did and not as we should have done.
These are all questions that float around in my head full of thoughts. They are not questions I expect to have the answer to for a while if ever. But I think I'd like to get to the point where at least with my husband I feel comfortable sharing with him the secrets of my younger self. And maybe in the future I will tell my kids, that before meeting their dad, their mum had a different life with partners, lovers, different friends, and different experiences. Without these I might be a very different mum, who knows.
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