Virginity seemed like a really important concept for all of my teenage years and even a few years into adulthood. I grew up in church, learning that you don’t have sex until you’re married because that’s how God wants it. I never questioned it. It seemed to me that the people I knew who were having sex had made life really complicated for themselves. Read More
I read an article this week that shifted my worldview a little. It said that the reason people decide to break up is usually because one person sees a promise of something better. It’s not directly because that person is unhappy or fearful in their current relationship. Unhappy, fearful people stay. Read More
Matt often blamed himself for being my corrupter. It’s true that before he and I met, I was clinging to the last threads of my growing-up religious philosophies. And it’s true that sometime in the course of our relationship, I loosened my grip and began floating in the weird world of agnosticism. But it’s not true that he corrupted me. That was completely my own doing. Read More
I spend a lot of time on this blog thinking about what I said and did and wishing I might have said or did something a little different. I also spend a lot of time trying to decide what I’d say now if I had the chance, and what better chance than Valentine’s Day? In honor of the occasion, here are the Valentine cards I wish I could send my exes.
When I was about 11, I was absolutely convinced that I should have had an older brother. I needed one. He would protect me from all the evils of the world and I would not be the oldest (and, to my mind, most neglected) child in the family anymore. Of course I knew it was impossible, but I wished really hard for an older brother. Prayed for one even.
I read romance novels. Disparage if you like, but really, what’s not to love about romance novels? You get to experience the joy of falling in love, the pain of heartbreak, the many facets of love and you’re guaranteed an ending that will not make you want to drown yourself in the nearest body of water… Read More
“Fail quickly.” Have you heard this new entrepreneurship buzzphrase? The idea is that you try something, and if it works, good on ya, and if it fails, you figure it out quick, let it go quick, and move on to the next thing quick.
I’m so not good at it.
I can’t claim to have any misgivings about hindsight, really. This entire blog is written in hindsight. I know that, necessarily, as you age and grow, you learn things either from an experience, or from navel-gazing about that experience very thoroughly. (No one’s ever accused me of not being thorough enough.)
But sometimes I wish I hadn’t learned some things.
I wish I hadn’t learned about negging. It colors my memories of so many of my interactions with Shane. Was he a pick-up artist? I highly doubt it, (1) because that was in like 1996 and it wasn’t even a thing yet, and (2) because I think he was a good guy and wouldn’t have done that on purpose even if he knew it was a thing… but now I have a label for it.
I wish I’d never experienced a hurt so complete that I never want to talk to an ex again. (Looking at you, Matt.) I especially wish it when I realize that’s how Luke and Shane must have felt about me on the few occasions when I tried to rekindle a friendship. Double hurt for the price of one.
I wish I’d never known that Joe thought of me as a passing fascination.
In some ways, I even wish away the wisdom of my older years, because it leaves my memories of my “firsts” (first love, first kiss, first time) muddied, confused, and a little yucky.
So sometimes I pretend that I don’t know things.
I pretend I don’t know that Matt was manipulative and narcissistic– it makes those memories seem charming rather than scary.
I pretend I don’t know that Joe wasn’t really that into me– it makes my first love seem worthy of the depth of feeling I gave to it.
I pretend I don’t know that I hurt Luke and Shane, probably deeply enough that they’re completely done with me, in the sense that they don’t even devote a second of their time to remembering me fondly (or at all)– because then I don’t have to feel hurt that they’re lost to me, or guilty that I did that.
In general, I think a lot of the “rules” of personality typing are bogus.
Some of that is because I’m a twin, so astrology makes no sense to me. My sister and I have exactly the same astrological sign and we are two very different people. And the birth order stuff? Well, when you’re a mere minute younger than your older sister, turns out that birth order doesn’t really matter much.
Also, the birth order thing hasn’t really demonstrated itself sound in my relationships. Joe and Luke were firstborns, like me (well, sort of– we’ll say I’m a firstborn for purposes of this discussion). That means we should have always been fighting for the leadership role in the relationship. Not the case. I was all too happy to let Joe take the leadership role, and with Luke, he bent over backwards to accommodate my every whim. No power struggles.
Matt was a younger brother with an older sister. According to the science, this means we should have been a great match, since I am an older sister with younger brothers. But, oh the fighting. To be fair, I can’t say it was really a power struggle. Most of our struggles came about because he needed me to give him more attention– and that certainly fits with the youngest kid personality stuff. But shouldn’t I, as an oldest child, be good at dealing with the neediness of my partner, then?
Apparently not. Matt and I did not make it. And a good portion of the relationship was a hellish spiral of drama about all the stuff I couldn’t (or wouldn’t) give him that he needed in order to feel loved.
So, for me, it was back to the drawing board on all the personality tests that tell you your “ideal match.” And first item on my list was “not an asshole.” That’s probably a more important qualifier than birth order anyway.
I’m not sure I believe in karma. It seems a little like wishful thinking. But I do believe that life teaches us the lessons we need to learn– sometimes the hard way.
Judgmental about fat people? I sense fifty extra pounds coming your way quick. Dismissive of chronic pain sufferers? Here, have a 2-week long back spasm.
Think of girls who date assholes as utter bimbos unworthy of your sympathy? Enter the asshole with whom you shall fall deeply in love.
Matt was that asshole. And I was that dismissive, superior harpy, screeching about the fact that only girls with really low self-esteem date assholes, and they should get ahold of themselves and just quit doing it. Duh.
The thing is, assholes don’t wear name tags identifying themselves as assholes. They can be sweet and charming, and often are at first. Hell, Matt was sweet and charming sometimes in the very midst of assholery.
I’m fairly certain all my friends knew what he was, and probably my family, too, but if I knew, I certainly was not going to admit it. I was not one of those simpering doormats with tits-for-brains that would ever date a man like that… Except I did, and it wasn’t because I was a doormat or a bimbo or any other combination of factors that were necessarily my fault.
It was because I fell in love. It was because I saw good in him.
And, the thing is, I like that about myself– the ability to see good in people. It doesn’t make me dumb or passive. It makes me compassionate. It makes me able to learn lessons like this one, so that now when I see someone dating an asshole, I feel the empathy of experience for her.
Oh, and, also, if karma does exist, I would like to say that I have nothing but pure sympathy for those members of the population afflicted with bacon allergies. May I never have to walk in those shoes to learn that lesson.