15 October 2011

Ex Files

Yes, I'm doing it: I'm writing a post about ex-boyfriends.  I briefly considered how cliche and taboo this is, but let's face the facts: writing that risks nothing isn't interesting to write...much less, to read.  Writing is about sitting alone, just you and a laptop or you and a notepad, and it feels isolating, even self-indulgent, because everything else around you fades away.  But in reality, writing is really the equivalent of cutting yourself open and exposing your guts to anyone who happens to run across your words.  It's the opposite of isolating.  And these days, people love to see guts, because it reminds them that they have their own.

A few nights ago, I sat here in my lovely bachelorette-pad of an apartment, staring at my walls, when it hit me that there is a string of debris from my ex-boyfriends strung throughout my life.  I can't get rid of it.  I told my mother this, and she laughed.  I love cleaning and purging and getting rid of objects that I don't need.  It has become an important ritual for me after a break-up to purposefully get rid of any material things that would remind me of a particular man or any negativity from the past.  I want my present to reflect my present.  But it dawned on me that the few men I have loved, who have touched my past, have left their fingerprints on the current mold of who I am today and how I live.  I got rid of stuff, but my life still carries parts of each of them.  Whether I chose to end the relationship, or whether they did, they have all contributed to my life in ways that will not disappear or be easily tossed into the garbage. 

There was the Drummer, who taught me that being too uptight can get in the way of loving someone else.  Dirt can always be washed away, and people should always be the #1 priority.  If your boyfriend doesn't feel like he's more important than your house, then he is not getting the love he deserves.   

There was the BAD one, who taught me that I always have permission to trust myself and trust my gut, because it is right 99.9% of the time (if not 100).  It's okay for me to follow my intuition and not have to explain a thing to anyone, or even to myself!  What I feel deep down is the truth for me, and there's no reason to apologize for that.  This lesson will serve me forever

There was the Super Hot & Intelligent guy who taught me that not all men are created equal, and that nothing is as it seems.  But what he really left me with is an appreciation for New England.  (The geographical variety in our country is what makes me love it so much.  America is beautiful!)  I'm still dying to visit Maine, and when I do one day, I know I will think of this guy, and I will appreciate the beauty of the coastline as if he is there with me.  Even though he broke my heart, his enthusiasm will project into my future...and it will feel good.

There was the Super Nice guy, who supported me in everything, even while introducing me to something I previously thought I hated: running.  He taught me that, unlike my prior 27 years of experience of feeling absolutely miserable when running, I can actually enjoy it, and I can love the way it makes my mind and body feel.  That knowledge, and running--period--is something I will carry with me for the rest of my life.  Super Nice guy also taught me the value of hearing someone you love say, "I am proud of you" - especially when you consider them your equal.  "I'm proud of you" is not a phrase that should be reserved for your children or employees.  Best friends, bosses, siblings, girlfriends, anyone! will benefit from hearing you say this out loud.  Tell them.  Super Nice guy also gave me a sweet technology set-up, allowing me to synch my computer with my big-screen television, which means that I can watch Netflix on my TV.  It's like a magic trick that continues to impress my guests, but it's nothing I did on my own.  And, let's not forget the high-interest savings account he taught me about.  Nobody can argue that this man did not change my life. 

There was the Super Type A Inflexible who showed me that I can still wear my prom dresses, and he introduced me to an amazing tailor.  Now the dresses are cocktail length and look good enough to wear in 2012.  Super Type A Inflexible also shared his love of photography with me, and actually gave me a digital camera.  I love the thing, I use it all the time, and his gift has shown me that I have a decent eye for photographs!  I really enjoy exploring different perspectives with a basic point-and-shoot.  This guy even gave me a print of his--a photograph printed onto a canvas--that I will probably never desire to take off my wall.  It's a butterfly, and butterflies held meaning for me before him.  But Super Type A Inflexible took the time to share a beautiful image with me, and when I glance at it, I feel peace.  He gets the credit for that.

Most recently there was...I don't even know what to call him yet...so I'll settle for Country-Music-Loving-Lawyer.  My credit was always good, but Country Music Lawyer gave me pointers for improving my credit score, which I was able to successfully execute.  He also encouraged me to get a rewards credit card, and I found one that awards you 2 travel miles for every dollar you spend.  It has saved me $200 in four months.  So now, I view the way I spend money a little differently, thanks to him.  Country Music Lawyer also taught me that if I am not the breadwinner, I am not comfortable splitting all the bills 50-50.  Money is so incredibly personal and has such an intimate relationship with our pasts, our futures, even our feelings of love and romance.  I stretched out of my comfort zone, and what I have learned about myself from that experience, I have come to accept.  Lessons learned from Country Music Loving Lawyer I will be able to apply with confidence and understanding in my next relationship.   

This list in no way summarizes, or demeans, my relationships - nor does it exalt them!  But it was important for me to note that, even when people seem able to discard other people so easily, it's impossible to claim that someone you allowed into your life did not affect it.  If these men had been different, then my present life would not be the same, and I think that's something worth appreciating.