A personal essay by Hannah- Clare Vann
Have you ever had “the label"? You know what I mean by label, right? It’s almost a rite of passage, a very strange badge of honour, a well-done golden star for allowing yourself to become vulnerable to someone else.
To open the once closed gate which guarded your buried secrets that you swore you would never allow anyone except for your best friend to hear.
To share mornings and nights in the arms of someone you believe you can trust. Sharing laughter over life’s stupidest moments. Excepting someone for their flaws in the hope they’ll do the exact same for you.
You’re living on the very hopeful edge of reason- “they’re the one! I can feel it!”.
Everything is perfect... up until the very second they decide it’s not, and there you are crying, pleading and begging for them to stay.
You’ll compromise, you’ll watch their terrible movies that you clearly despise. You will be better at cleaning, you’ll take that Gordon Ramsay master class and NOT forget the lamb sauce, you will literally do anything to make them stay with wild tearful eyes, but they leave anyway.
When it comes to the end, you seemingly don’t handle the break up all that well and before you know it, they're laughing about you to their friends.
Now the label appears and you're branded with the unwanted badge of honour.
You’re officially their “crazy ex”.
I’ve discussed this with my best friend MULTIPLE times in our friendship over long phone calls, all of which have promised to last 10 minutes but end up becoming 5 hours (the only thing that got me through 2020 to be completely transparent).
We always came away from those calls enlightened over our fuckups in life. One of the most memorable realisations we came to was when my genius best friend said “You know what? Guys call us the crazy ex girlfriends, BUT there is a reason why”.
There it was. She was so right.
I really don’t want to trigger anyone reading this, but can you think of someone you once dated who initially seemed fairly normal in the grand scheme of things? Then all of a sudden you find out they are snap-chatting nudes to other people and doing a 180 degree U turn into the dms of an insta baddie saying “I kinda fancy ya” just after you posted an anniversary memento celebrating years of being with them?
Or even worse, they are sleeping with other people and claiming you’re both “in an open relationship”, when in actuality that was never discussed and you’re not even considering sleeping with someone else.
How many times have you been branded a “crazy psycho ex” for simply calling someone out on their behaviour? A lot, probably, because it’s almost normal to become known as that “crazy girl who Mark dated until she lost her shit".
Jack and his lies
I'm sure we all know a Mark. In my case, we'll call him *Jack*.
Jack is someone I'd love to give an honourable mention to, just to really stamp and seal his invite to the accountability club.
Allow me to introduce you to Jack.
I met Jack in my first year of University whilst visiting my best friend. He was her room-mate.
After a long, care-free summers day spent by the river with friends, we headed back to her halls and bumped into *Jack*- a tall, red-headed illustrator from Sheffield with a seemingly beautiful big beard (ya girl loves beards).
Sexual tension soon began the second my eyes met his and before I knew it he was handing me a drink in the front room and giving me an abundance of “attention” (in my now 27-year- old brain I recognise that the situation was actually slightly creepy).
Fast forwarding this huge story by a considerable amount, we slept together that night and, sure enough, he ghosted me almost immediately after.
You see, hearsay about Jack informed me of a habit of his- a habit of contributing to an exes downfall by wrongfully labelling her as the “the crazy ex".
This story of course began with Jack sleeping with a girl he knew (me). He claimed he and his girlfriend had broken up recently, which of course most people would take as a green light. However, when news of the event got back to Jack’s “ex” girl friend ( at a rate much too quick for comfort), she stormed over to the halls of the girl he slept with, supported by her group of friends.
I know what you’re thinking “but Hannah... Jack said he was single.. why does this feel like I’m doing equations right now... I need to lie down!”.
That’s because he did say he was single, it was just major news to his girlfriend that they had broken up.
Not only had he cheated on his girlfriend and allowed her to verbally attack the girl with who had zero inclination that he lied, but he also then hid with the full knowledge that she was charging into battle with the wrong target.
The next time I saw Jack was two years later.
I attended a house party with my best friend who, in her best efforts, had tried to steer me away from Jack who also happened to be there.
He saw me, he apologised for ghosting me and then proposed the idea of sleeping together. Me, gurning my 38E’s off and with zero self respect, didn’t exactly decline. No, instead I brought him back to my house and we had sex the entire weekend.
Can you guess the end result of this? Ghosted.. obviously.
The result of being scorned once again led me to craft a long message about how Jack treats girls, once again leading to me being strung out.
You’d think that would be the end of Jack's endeavours. Well... no.
Patterns of behaviour
By some miracle, Jack managed to secure a girlfriend. She was a student from abroad who attended the same university.
It seemed like a genuine turning point for him, judging by what I'd seen on social media anyway.
One day I heard some news, a story that was sadly unsurprising. Jack’s girlfriend had travelled home for a while and began to miss Jack so much that she booked a surprise flight back to the UK. How giddy she must have felt packing her things with their reunion racing through her mind.
She landed and took a taxi to his house with the expectation to see him in his room and filled with pure joy at the sight of her.
His roommates let her in and one room mate stood there with a heavy, sinking stomach as he looked into her eyes with the knowledge that he had.
"Where is Jack?"
Well... Jack is currently shagging another girl.
Despite many frantic messages from his friends, Jack didn’t rush home. Oh no, he carried on fucking while his girlfriend was waiting for him in his empty bedroom.
But hey, I guess she's the crazy one.
Everyone knew Jack’s reputation, so when guys like him call girls “a crazy psycho ex”, it doesn’t hold as much validity. But what happens when the guy doesn’t have that reputation? What happens when the “nice guy” calls the ex “psycho”?
Sip your glass of rose queen, I’m diving in further.
There are the “nice guys” who are so delusional in the part they played in making their ex girlfriend a paranoid wreck.
Then there’s the cool, "nice guy" who refuses to label the relationship so they can end things by using the perfect loophole.
The moment you show any upset towards them hurting you you’re hurled back into the reality of them spitefully remind you “Oh... yeah I mean I don’t know where this anger is coming from though...like you knew we weren’t a thing, right? Yeah... sorry, I know I acted like a boyfriend would, you met my friends, my family, I came with you to your graduation, family functions, slept with you and took you on dates but... you’re acting super crazy right now... I told you this wasn’t a thing.... sorry....”.
The best way to get your revenge on a destructive ex is to be that ex who is filled with love and gratitude and who handles a situation with such a sense of evolution that it will stun both them and their friends. Getting to this point, however, does take time, a few run-ins with the Jack's of the world and a lot of self acceptance.
If you or know someone who has been labelled “the crazy ex” for acting on emotions or for being hurt, then I would like to personally tell you that you are NOT the crazy ex.
It hurts and it's painful, but you are not the crazy ex for simply dealing with your feelings. Your feelings matter and you should never feel “crazy” for expressing them. So finally, can we peel off that label please?
If you’re the one prone to calling exes crazy when you were the one snap chatting other people nudes, sliding into dms like a wet slide on a hot day, hooking up with other people and just being a little bit shit, then please just admit you’ve hurt someone in your self destructive process.
Accept, acknowledge and hold yourself accountable in the future. And, if you’re a *Jack*, then uh... seek therapy.