The Digital Breakup

Posted on April 21, 2013 by Gene

A week ago, my relationship of almost 2 years ended.

I’m really not writing this in hopes of catharsis (as you can see, I’m not really gonna talk about specifics here) but the reality is that I’m not really ready for one yet. Half of me is absolutely certain that he will realize what he’s done and walk back through that door; the other half is in complete denial and doesn’t even realize what has happened. The other half, that extra part that physicists puzzle about, is walking around in a total state of shock, staring at walls and unable to focus.

No, I’m writing this because it is something to do with the thoughts that are bouncing around up there that I just can’t yet talk about or even cry about. The part that is supposed to be rational but is still fighting it tooth and nail. The part that is angry and wants to erase him from my life, despite the fact that my life when he was around was the best part.

It is amazing in this digital, socially-networked world just how much people are intertwined. And the process of disentanglement is no longer just ripping up a photo or throwing away some shirts. It’s so complicated that I may have to create a list.

First, I find myself both wanting to and not wanting to remove reminders of him. I’ve pulled a few pictures down from the refrigerator, but since he hasn’t yet packed up his stuff and found a new place, everything is still here – the books, the pictures, the clothes, the dishes, the shampoo. I look around the bedroom at night at his stuff, sleeping on the edge of my side of the bed like we are still together and he’s just out of town. I know I will be empty and terrified when all those things are gone, so I figure that I can start with little things that aren’t really “there”… and won’t really be gone, because they are archived somewhere on backup drives.

Delete them from my phone, from my iPad, from my iPhone wallpaper, from appearing on the Apple TV whenever I turn on the set. Thank goodness Apple now allows deletions from PhotoStream… but first, archive them all in iPhoto. I know one day I will desperately want to see them.

Siri doesn’t understand – she’s very perceptive – when I tell her that he’s no longer my boyfriend. She just created a new relationship called “Not My Boyfriend.” I probably will laugh at that in the future, but for now, while I have no sense of humor, I have to delete our relationship manually from my contacts.

Find My Friend
The title alone says volumes. It’s not that I care if he sees where I am, it’s that I know it will be far too much of a difficult temptation for me to not look for him, wonder where he is, and who he is with. So I have to revoke that permission for my own good.

Netflix and iTunes
Gonna have to get my own Netflix account and remove his from the AppleTVs. The last thing I need is for him to see that I’ve been watching sad movies – or ones we watched together – over and over. And these days, you don’t sort out the record albums, you delete the playlists.

My rational mind says that he is not likely to call in the middle of the night asking to come back. So while the irrational part of me won’t allow him to be removed from my contacts entirely, he’s now off the Favorites and won’t get through the Do Not Disturb filter.

I’ve got nearly two years worth of instant messages, cute emoji, little pictures and sweet nothings on the “Couple” app – a messaging app that is a dedicated channel between two people. I can’t bring myself to tap the button that electronically severs our connection, and I can’t make myself delete the app. I don’t know if I can save that electronic box of love letters, and I don’t know if I should.

Game Center. Tumblr. Twitter. Reminders. Shared calendars. Accounts on servers. Dropbox shared folders. Accounts on XBox. He’s the only person who’s a VIP in my email app. Despite what any court might say, I’d venture a guess that the data mining companies who compile our marketing demographics assume we are already married.

I can’t do it yet. I just can’t. I know, it’s silly – but these days, unfriending just seems like the final nail in the coffin of a relationship. I can’t even click the “single” button, I’ve settled for “separated” right now. It’s that second half, in denial. I know I’ll have to do the deed soon, because I really won’t be able to deal with seeing the Facebook status messages I know are coming from him soon.

Things are unlinked, undone, rerouted, and archived, but never lost. If only our lives were in the cloud, too.

I’d like to go back a few weeks and restore from a backup, please.