Thursday, October 21, 2010

On Letters to An Ex-Boyfriend

When I refer to ex-boyfriends on here, I am usually referring to my heinously douchey first boyfriend; today, I am not. And at the risk of making my current boyfriend feel a little awkward, I wanted to talk a bit about the second one while simultaneously hoping that if he ever comes across this he doesn't think I'm a huge creep. I really don't know where this post is going, so it may be a bit ramble-y, but I just wanted to talk (write) some things out.

My second real boyfriend has been written about here before. He was, sadly, one of those rebound relationships. I was broken up from Douchey First Boyfriend and a close guy-friend of mine set us up on a blind date. We went to a county fair together and it was supremely awkward. The only actual memory I have of that first date is when we went to look at the bunnies and tried desperately not to make eye contact. I, for one, was probably blushing the whole time.

On our second date, my mother (this was high school when neither of us had licenses) drove us to the mall to see a Jet Li flick. We ended up seeing the movie, having an impromptu dinner at IHOP, and then walking to Borders Books. I should have guessed we were destined to be when he thought up looking at books as a romantic idea. We then walked about a mile or so to the library. We sat under the gazebo, side by side, still not making eye contact in the way that people who really, really want to kiss do. We didn't.

I got a text message that night: "I wish I had kissed you." I wished he did, too.

At some point we were officially an item.

We had more things in common than I did with that first boyfriend. We were both martial artists, for one. When for some mysterious reason my dining room table went away for a few weeks and we had an open room, we would grapple in a very non-innuendo-y kind of way. My mother was livid that I insisted on sparring with him the day before marching band senior pictures and got a huge scrape across my forehead. I saw it as a badge of honor. I liked that he treated me as "one of the guys" in that sense. I learned later that it may have been one of the downfalls of our relationship. You never want to hear your boyfriend say "you're more of a 'friends' type girl."

But I'm getting away from the point. This was the guy who biked forty minutes in the cold to be my knight in shining armor. This is the guy who was okay with it when I told him early on that I wasn't over my ex and that I didn't know what I'd do if he wanted me back. This was the guy who spent so many nights just holding me as I cried over another man. This was the guy who sat on my couch one night as my ex explained to me over the phone exactly why he would never love me again. This was the guy who, on that night, put his arm around me when I hung up the phone and was silent with me when that was exactly what I needed. This was the guy who told me one night as I gripped his shoulders that he could feel how vulnerable and lost I was through my thumbs. This was the guy who told me he loved me on the porch one night in the Borat voice because he thought he could get away with that, but I knew the truth and I loved him, too. He had a knack for being silly and kind and patient.

When he broke up with me, I wasn't as sad as I should have been, but I begged for him to stay anyhow. I was lost at that point in my life, as he'd noticed. But this was the guy that didn't want to see me get hurt anymore. He knew what he had to do and he stood firm. And he made sure before we hung up, we were laughing and talking like friends. It was beautifully bizarre.

But I decided to hate him at some point. I hated him because he was honest, because he told me that he wasn't sure if he had ever loved me loved me. We had had sex, and I think at that point I rushed into it-- rushed him into it, a guy who insisted he would wait-- purely out of the deluded idea I had at the time that if I tried hard enough, sex would make boys stay, make them love me. And I was hurt.

From then on, I painted him as a monster. But as I got a bit older, I started to see things differently. I asked the friend who'd set us up about him much later.

"He loved you," my friend said. "I've never seen him like he was with you before. He felt so sorry for what you went through. Seeing you so hurt, hurt him. That was real."

And gradually I realized that maybe this guy had broken up with me, and maybe I was angry that he didn't love me as a girlfriend, but maybe I had really been the mean one in the relationship and that he didn't deserve me putting his reputation through the ringer. It took me a few years to actually believe that maybe I was the problem-- or at least a big part of it. And it was hard for me to acknowledge that I could be so cruel in my quest to heal my emotional wounds. My second relationship was a "rebound relationship" to be sure, and I can say now that I wasn't ready emotionally to be with anyone. And I hadn't been ready for quite some time to cope with the fact that maybe in this relationship, I was the one dragging a human heart to Hell and back.

I've been thinking for awhile now about writing him a letter-- to give myself a little piece of mind, I guess. I want to write a letter to tell him that I'm sorry for wasting his time and for painting him the villain when it was I who deserved the brunt of the blame. And he never blamed me still. I want to write a letter to say thank you for the way he was there for me at a very rough time in my life. I may not have been ready to love him then, but I love him now for giving me the kindness I so needed, even if I wasn't ready to fully accept it.

Will I write him? I don't know. But this is a start.

Have you ever been surprised looking back at a relationship? Have you ever dated on the rebound? What did you learn from the experience?


Destined For Now said...

What a poignant post. All of my relationships have taught me something and have always seemed so different without the rose-colored glasses.
The only advice I have for you, especially since it seems you still have strong emotions regarding this man (even if they are not romantic), is don't write the letter. Don't write an email, send a text or place a phone call.
He knows you're sorry.

D. said...

I've been reading "Eat Pray Love" and a character Richard tells Elizabeth, the main character brooding about her relationship, that the man she is referring to as her soul mate really is her soul mate, in a sense that his purpose in her life was to shift her life and make her change. And then leave. I think that your ex boyfriend is something like that in your life.

Rose said...

i love this post. not that i've ever had a serious boyfriend, or that i can PERSONALLY relate, but it's a beautiful post nonetheless. I like D.'s comment above. I think she's onto something there. I think there's a reason for everything, and that what happened with your ex was supposed to happen. And it changed you for the better and for the worse. As for writing him, i say wait on it, and if in a while, you still want to do it, then go ahead. But who am i to give advice?

Anonymous said...

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