“We will no longer be attending couple’s therapy since Meredith has decided to end our relationship.” I read the email my newly minted ex-fiancé had written to our couples therapist, shook my head and laughed. He had cc’d me; my email address hadn’t even made it to the first line.
My email to our therapist had said, “We’re not coming back.” No cc, no bcc. Just relief.
Over the course of our two-and-change-year relationship, my ex and I started dating, fell into the relationship bubble where no one else existed, got engaged, broke it off, got back together without telling anyone for three months, started couples therapy and then: a break up that included an all-caps Gchat session, two angry phone calls that resulted in a face-to-face where his last words to me were, “No one is ever going to love you.”
As he was being escorted out of my apartment building by my very kind building manager, he capped it off by hurling a Polish curse in my direction. To this day, I have no clue what he said. (I will say that six months later, I was diagnosed with breast cancer, so maybe it worked?)
To all of this, I say, “Thank You.”
Thank you for teaching me what I want and need out of a partner and for showing me all the red flags I’ll know to run from next time. Fast. If I had never met my ex-fiancé, I would never know the looks on my friends’ faces when they truly don’t like something but don’t want to say it to my face. We’ve all been in that situation before — there’s nothing groundbreaking about your friend dating a total asshole that no one likes — but when you’re on the receiving end of it, it’s a whole new experience. Thank you for reminding me how important my girl group is and that they will always know me best.
Thank you for reminding me that my family also knows me, regardless of the fact that I have not lived at home since I was 18 years old. When I became engaged, my father looked me in the eye and said, “Are you sure this is what you want to do?” I burst into tears immediately. The father-daughter dynamic is an interesting one, at least mine certainly always has been. Has my father known about any of my relationships? No. Did he know that this one was a disaster? Yes.
Most important, thank you for reintroducing me to my sense of self and self-worth. So many women get into relationships and morph into “the girlfriend”; I was no different. I found myself involved in activities I had zero interest in but because he liked these things, I liked them as well. Where were all the things I love to do? All my interests ceased to exist and whether or not he meant to do this, I was shamed when we were doing things that I enjoy. I love food. I love going to dinner. I love a good glass of wine, but when someone is told that they’re “expensive,” your level of enjoyment turns to anxiety when you sit down at the table.
The constant fear of being criticized led me to therapy, where I spent the year following our breakup building myself up to become a more confident person — the kind of person who can be in an adult relationship with another person who loves me for all my quirks and idiosyncrasies.
The wine always tastes better now. So thank you for that.