As most of us will experience at some point in life, I found myself in a messy relationship.
We married just four days after my 20th birthday, an age I never imagined myself making such a large commitment.
And as I sit here writing this, two months before my 22nd birthday, I am reflective over our year and a half long marriage.
I am not writing this to bad mouth my ex husband. Although we had some very hard times, I will always cherish the moments that I was so deeply in love with him. I cherish that he showed me how deeply I was capable of loving another soul. My relationship loving the wrong guy makes me so excited for the day I do find the right guy, because if I could love the wrong one so deeply I can’t imagine how beautiful love with the right man will be.
I am writing this to connect with or speak to others who have come out of sticky relationships as well. At first it can seem like the end of the world and you think that the pain isn’t going to stop, but once it does you will discover that finding yourself is one of the most liberating experiences imaginable.
So, thank you for showing me traits that I do want to look for in a future partner. I hope to find another man that remembers birthdays, anniversaries, and takes part in society’s clichés—like putting forth effort on Valentine’s Day. And someone who will understand the weird things about me, like my distaste for flowers. (They are dead. Something I can plant and grow, now that’s romantic. But, moving on…)
Thank you for teaching me to not be so naïve. I remember trusting every word you said. Stupidly believing that you wouldn’t hide things from the woman you were supposed to share everything with. Since being with you I have learned to question everything, and by doing so I uncover more truths. Now, if I trust someone it is because they have truly earned it. I no longer give away my trust freely.
Thank you for making me realize that love isn’t perfect. Like all women, I have been conditioned from a young age to believe in a Prince Charming. Real people have bad days, moody days, and douchey days. Real couples fight and have bills to pay. Real couples have to deal with the in laws and house chores and grocery shopping. Cinderella and Prince Charming never had to deal with any real life issues. So, thank you for teaching me that expecting a Prince Charming is simply unrealistic on my part.
Thank you for looking at me like I belonged in a psych ward when I would dance in the kitchen. It made me realize I need a man that can loosen up and be weird with me. I need a man that loves my goofiness and can match it.
Thank you for teaching me that the safe choice isn’t always the best choice. I’m a risk taker and I thrive off of new experiences. You were the opposite, and instead of me bringing you out of your shell, you drew me into mine. All of the weekends wasted on the couch watching TV when I could have been adventuring. All the dinners ate at the same restaurants because you didn’t want to try somewhere new. All the monotonous motions that became my life. I need someone that is going to match my inner gypsy and will be down for a last minute road trip just because we can. Someone that will run barefoot in the dark with me and isn’t freaked out by the idea of skinny dipping. Someone that will help me complete my bucket list before my life on this earth is over. Someone that doesn’t look at me like I’m insane constantly and will reply to my wild ideas with, “Hell yes!” rather than, “What is wrong with you?”
Thank you for showing me what I deserve. In our marriage I was never treated like I was good enough. I couldn’t hold your attention over your cell phone or over the football game. I was treated as a nuisance at times, and I have learned that I do not deserve that. I deserve a man that wants to listen to my crazy ideas and dreams and will dream along with me.
Thank you for teaching me how much I hate secrets. A relationship can’t be built around half truths and I will never accept them ever again.
Thank you for teaching me to follow my gut. So many times my gut led me in the right direction. It helped me uncover lies and secrets and it finally led me out the door. You would call me crazy, but in the end my gut never failed me.
Finally, thank you for teaching me what I stand for and for forcing me to fall in love with myself. Because after an almost four year relationship I learned that I did not even know who I was anymore. I had tried to become something that I wasn’t. I’m not the type to stay in every weekend and be uptight and proper. I’m not the type to always wear a bra or to be on time to anything. I’m not the type to watch what I say. Thank you for making me realize that all of the things you seemed to hate about me, someone else will love. But more importantly, the things you hated are the things that I love the most about myself. I’m unorthodox and unruly and I love it.
This goes out to all the lessons I learned.
Author: Emily Cutshaw
Editor: Travis May
Photo: Flickr/Katia Romanova