A Letter to My Ex


A Guest Post by Shirley Maya Tan

Firstly, I would like to thank Charlotte for allowing me to “invade” her sacred space. It is an honour and pleasure to guest blog for her. I am a huge fan of The Good Girl Confessional and Charlotte’s writing. So, I wanted to do something deeply personal that is worthy of my friendship with her, and her blog.

Sometimes we do not know how much a decision will impact us until it is done. This is the case for me, and my divorce. It has undoubtedly changed my life, and me. So, today I share with all of you this post written as a letter to my ex.

It is my way of putting my past to rest.

May I present, “A Letter to my Ex”

I am sorry it took a long time for me to write this letter. I had not bothered earlier because I know you won’t read it.

Not to worry, this is not a letter to bash you (or your mother). You know I cannot leave her out of it – there were three people in our marriage, remember?

No, this is not to ridicule or designed to wound. There is nothing left to blame, and that is the truth.

Rather, I would like to wish you well and hope that you are on your way to becoming the man you’ve always aspired to be. Our failed marriage is not THE failure in our lives. It does not render us “unlovable” and unworthy to anyone else. 

We were very different individuals back then – young, naive and full of “un-realistic” ideals.I say “unrealistic” because neither of us fully understood the enormity and depth of what it meant to be committed in a marriage. Our definition of marriage was also different then. 

I, for one, got carried away with the wedding banquet, the floral bouquets, the towering champagne, the string quartet and fairy lights. I thought the marriage would be exactly like the grand wedding banquet – filled with feasts, laughter, loved ones, friends, music, light and magic. I never thought it would go from bad to worse after our honeymoon.

champagne and flowers

We can really learn a great deal about one another, and about oneself, when shit hits the fan and things fall apart. Not to mention, one’s mother-in-law. By the way, I think it’s quite funny now that I refer to her as “the Outlaw”. And yes, she can call me the same, because it is true.

If we were honest with ourselves, we would admit that we did know what went wrong and how it turned from heavenly to the worst of hell. 

Our marriage became a series of fights. We could have easily made money and sold tickets for ringside seats, as we got really good at fighting one another.

During and after the divorce, we just really wanted to “hang” the blame on anyone else, but ourselves. I think it was easier to bear that way – knowing that someone else was responsible for our shattered dreams and shredded hopes. In the end, we only knew how to hurt each other in the most brutal of ways – rightly or wrongly.

Now, I can safely say that I know exactly what kind of man I do not want to ever end up with – thanks to you. As I am sure you’ll say the same about me 🙂

For the longest time, our whole fiasco of marriage and divorce had burnt me so badly that I literally wanted to murder every man who was stupid or brave enough to even look my way. I was even ready to become a full-fledged lesbian-loving bohemian, and hater of all men. But that would be seriously insulting the LGBT community as a whole. And that would also be most unjust to all the other men who did me no wrong. See, I do learn 🙂

For the longest time, I did blame you for not being there for me, and not siding with me.

For the longest time, I hated you for abandoning me at my most vulnerable and fragile. 

The questions circled above me like vultures, “Why didn’t you save me? Why did you let me fall into deep despair when you knew I was so close to suicidal? Why did you pretend not to see me?”

Truth is, neither of us were that strong at that time. We probably didn’t even know the meaning of real courage and strength. Worst of all, we didn’t understand what it meant to truly love someone.

For all the wrongs we have done unto one another, we’ve created a beautiful daughter together. And she is no doubt borne out of love. Rest assured that your love for our darling daughter is beyond reproach. She is the only remnant of our brief “love affair”. I say “love affair” because this is the best way for me to relate to it. We were not serious enough, and had no clue as to what we were getting ourselves into. So, it was not a real marriage that we shared. It was, and will remain just a “love affair”.

Through the period of 1999 to 2001 – we discovered our own dreadful flaws, as well as appalling weaknesses. Somehow we were too skilled in bringing out the worst in each other.

Still, I learnt how to be strong and independent because of you. I am sure you had to learn and cope on your own after our divorce just the same.

It took our marriage to show us what we each could not uphold, how horribly incompatible we were, and our divorce became our only liberation – the only way out for the both of us to find true ourselves and be our true ourselves.

I remembered going through the remnants of what used to be me, trying to figure out who I was without you. I recall one morning at a local deli, ordering 5 different types of breakfasts just to discover what kind of breakfast I actually liked. Of course, all the diners stared at me strangely. I simply looked over to them, and said – “Just got divorced. Emotional gorging.” 

I am glad that we can both speak civilly with each other now, and laugh at ourselves. We were such a silly bunch of kids pretending to be adults, playing house and setting up a family. What were we thinking! Clearly, we weren’t. 

In any case, I just wanted you to know this –

Who we were and what we did are no longer relevant. We are very different people now. And now is all that matters. 

I am sure we have learnt a great deal from our individual experiences. You will always have your version and I have thrown my version to the winds. I rather like travelling light these days.

From here on, we should only focus on improving on ourselves. If for nothing else, it should be for the sake of our daughter. We shall work on being better “single parents”, and an inspiring role to our dearest girl. She does deserve the best from us.  

There is no room for ill feelings, because karma will make sure we get what’s due to us all in the end. There is no need to grieve, to blame, to hate or to stay angry. I say it again, karma will take care of everything and everyone in the end. 

It took me 12 years to be able to say this, finally – I am ready for love, and to love again. But just not with you – LOL I could not resist inserting that bit. It is all in good fun, because I know you’ll be saying the very same thing to me. So, for once, we are both in agreement. 

May we always keep the friendship, and remember to be kind towards one another. Yes, it includes The Outlaw your mother 🙂

And oh, just one more thing – let’s not meet one another ever again after this lifetime. I’d like my succeeding lifetimes to be a whole lot different, if you don’t mind. Thank you very much. 

I wish you the very best of luck, and hope that you will always have the peace within. 


Shirley Maya Tan

Shirley Maya Tan has been published in, among others, the Huffington Post, Elephant Journal and The B-Side. A single mother living in Kuala Lumpur, Shirley writes about motherhood, dating, sexuality, identity and much more. The Art of Fearless Living is an intimate, authentic and revealing portrait of one woman’s quest to live fearlessly in our increasingly complex world. Learn how being afraid is human, but staying afraid is a choice. Choose to be fearless today.


  1. Wow, Shirley this is beautiful. You have summed up my own experience ( save for the involvement of an outlaw) wonderfully – and it is so encouraging to read that we can and do heal, mature and grow beyond the pain. You are an inspiration and I thank you.