Valentine’s Day is approaching, and so far, I’ve read V-Day posts offering advice about dating, being a side chick, loving one’s self against all odds, ad infinitum.
It all got me to thinking about relationships gone past and how much they helped me become the person I am now – however trivial the relationship seemed. I’ve been a serial dater since I was 14. Idk why. I love Love or some ish. Or maybe I’ve got latent self-esteem issues and need to be liked. Or maybe I just go with the flow. Or maybe I’m just awesome, and therefore, incredibly date-able.
I’m 22 now, which means I probably know absolutely nothing about anything. So I highly doubt I’m self-aware enough to accept any answer for why I’ve been completely date-free for about a total of three weeks in the past eight years.
But given the fact that I recently discovered this realm of Twitter that’s full of highly educated, hilarious and immature black 30 and 40-somethings, nobody knows anything.
Especially about love. It’s this nebulous concept that keeps the world populated, teen-aged girls in tears, and Netflix stocked with a healthy supply of low-budget romantic comedies starring actors who are in a hundred movies you’ve seen, but whose names you never can remember.
The other day, my cousin/BFF called me, and reminded me how seriously we took those high school breakups. I vividly remember the first one I truly spun out of control over. I kept the poems – yes, poems, y’all – I wrote to express just how deeply he made me feel pain and my tears were like pouring rain, because they are too hilarious to throw away.
That year, I wore all black the following Valentine’s Day, made all of my friends hate me by whining about the nonsense (I deeply apologize, you guys.) and listened to Avril Lavigne’s “My Happy Ending” on repeat for about three days.
And, why? Our relationship consisted of marathon phone conversations about nothing, trips to the movies and a dream of going to the prom together that got completely deferred.
If I could go back in time and slap 16-year-old Me, I would. With vigor.
I hated him so much my stomach hurt for weeks. His name kept creeping into my head, and I would just start cursing out thin air.
Now I know he did some immensely stupid and hurtful things to me, but he was young like I was, and I let him.
I learned to speak up when I was pissed. To never be afraid of being angry.
I think I’m just realizing how important all of that was. Every single guy who didn’t call, lied about not having a girlfriend, “joked” that I was too skinny/fat/innocent/foul-mouthed, complained that I didn’t read Hypebeast on the daily/wear six-inch heels all the time/care about burping in front of him – they were all helping me realize what I do and don’t value. Not just in a relationship, but in life.
And they weren’t all bad people. I actually don’t hold any bitterness toward any of them. Some of them are even my sort-of-friends.
We can tell ourselves that people who hurt us, or bored us, or whatever, were worthless – especially once we find out what truly being in love is. But wouldn’t that take away from everything we’d gotten from it? And not just “the times you’ll laugh about later” but the things it hurts to think about. The things that really were your fault, the things you’re not over, the habits you’re holding on to – the lessons that came out of all of those nights of watching “Waiting to Exhale” and yelling at the screen.
I’m not pretending to know. But this Valentine’s Day, I want to thank every single ashy-kneed boy who made me cry – ever. Maybe you’re awesome now. Maybe you’re the loser that a pettier me once wished you’d become. Either way, you’re partially responsible for helping me get closer to becoming open to possibilities.
Oh goodness. I sound like I just put down a freaking self-help book. But I mean it. Thanks.
- Lauren McEwen (@angrywritergirl)