Sunday, April 24, 2022

Thank You. Also, F*** You.


Hello Invisible Audience,


Recently, an ex-boyfriend reached out to me on Facebook. This was is ironic, because he broke up with me more than a decade ago by defriending me on Facebook, despite the fact that we worked together at the same company at the time; we’d also been dating off and on for more than year at that point.


After he defriended me on Facebook, I sent him a text, which he didn’t answer. I sent him an instant message. No answer. When I went into his office at work to ask him what was happening, he said, “I can’t do this right now. I’ll call you later. I promise.”


He never did.


I will spare you all the reasons why our relationship was a dumpster fire, but please trust me when I say that it was. It wasn’t all his fault, either. We threw all those bags of trash into that dumpster together; he may have been the one that struck the match that got it burning, but I gleefully added a fair amount of flammable material to the mix before he did.


When he reached out recently, he told me that I had set him on a path to greatness, and that I was his one true regret. He said he was now ready to have a healthy relationship with me.


I blocked him.


I don’t have any malice for this man. I don’t hate him anymore. In fact, I rarely think of him at all. But that doesn’t mean that we should be friends, just because he’s decided he’s now ready to be.


I learned a lot about myself from that relationship; most of it wasn’t good. I learned how badly I would allow others to treat me. I learned how much I had a savior complex; I learned how codependent I was. That breakup, in combination to quitting the terrible job where I met him and moving away from the Seattle area and writing my first cookbook, was the beginning of becoming who I am now. He did me a huge favor by breaking up with me. There were many lessons I learned from that relationship, and many toxic behaviors of mine that died in that dumpster fire.


That doesn’t mean I am grateful to him.


That was one of many occasions where I’ve been able to gather lessons from experiences I’ve had. Really truly terrible experiences. A lot of the message I hear out in the culture is that we should be grateful for these dumpster fires; even more mind-boggling to me, we should see them as ways we’re being shown that we’re special. That resilience is living through them and being stronger because of it, and therefore we should be thankful for the lesson—for being forged into something steely through the flames.


I don’t think I’ll ever get there, Invisible Audience.


To me, there’s a huge difference between these two sentences:


A terrible thing happened to me. It’s because I was supposed to learn something, and now I have. I’m so grateful for this terrible experience for teaching me this thing.  


A terrible thing happened to me. I have held this experience in my hands with curiosity, turned it over and over, and discovered where I can make a different choice in the future.


When I wrote the first of those two sentences, my heart squeezed and I stopped breathing. It felt like I was trying to tell myself that I not only deserved this pain I was dealt, but that I should thank whatever that pain brought me.


When I wrote the second sentence, it felt like I was empowered to own making the best of a shitty situation by choosing to learn something from it.


This has come up again and again lately. I never would have taken all the time and money I did to figure out why I felt so physically sick if it wasn’t for the pandemic. Thank you, Covid-19. Also, f*** you.


I would never have learned so much about boundaries and how to set them without a lot of shitty, shitty relationships, including those with my family of origin, most of whom I no longer speak to. Thanks for the lesson. F*** you very much for the mountains of pain, and years of lying curled in the fetal position.


It used to be that I learned things the hard way, Invisible Audience. It used to be that I stuck around because it felt more predictable than leaving. It felt like I was earning some martyr stripes; that they were a badge of honor I should enjoy carrying.


I never did.


So now, I don’t.


Love and f*** it kisses,


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