I’ve had four pretty serious relationships in my life. What I consider serious is a long-term relationship that lasts a year or more, and one in which we actually talk about the future, seriously and not hypothetically. I also consider it serious, if I was in love... or at least I thought so at the time. So, I guess we can say I’ve been in love with four men, had serious relationships with all four, and even made one super serious, at least legally speaking, by getting married.
In between all those serious relationships, I’ve had flings, short-term relationships, and other situations that I just consider distractions. Some I’d like to forget, like that bartender on Avenue C who had only read one book in his whole life, and others I hope to remember forever, like that insanely gorgeous French man whom I met in Spain back in 2011. But no matter how much I want to remember or forget them, most of them made an impact in their own small ways… and being an overly analytical person, I actually asked five exes why we broke up. It was enlightening to say the least.
But of all the things my exes have said to me, either when we were together or after our break up, there are some comments that will resonate for the rest of my life. Whether or not I learned from these, um, critiques is a whole other story, but as for the comments that shaped my life, here are seven of them.
1. "You Wanted More For Me Than I Wanted For Myself."
When my first love and I broke up, this is what he told me… and it was true. He was content to have a couple of downtown shows with this paintings, but believing in his art so much, I wanted more for him. And, according to him, he didn't want that much; he was happy with what he had.
Instead of learning from that, although I never forgot it, I did the same thing with my husband. He was a struggling musician, but he didn’t give it a 100 percent ― he barely gave 30 percent. I pushed and pushed and pushed, and just like my first love told me some 15 years ago, Olivier said the same thing: “You want more for me than I want for myself.”
I’m hoping if I ever date another artist, I’ll finally accept that I shouldn’t be placing my expectations for others on them. Some people just want to give only 30 percent and it’s not my job to try to instill ambition in them.
2. "You’re So Bossy."
I got this comment a lot from my high school boyfriend. I’ve actually gotten that a lot my whole life and I can even remember the very first time someone said it to me: I was in third grade, was clearly micromanaging some sort of game during recess, and a girl told me I was bossy. I remember feeling really bad about it. To me "bossy" was not a nice word.
But while my high school boyfriend wasn’t totally wrong, I do wish our paths would cross today so I can tell him, “Actually, I’m not bossy. I’m the boss.” Because I am.
3. "My Mom Says You Walk Like A Tramp."
Again, this lovely one come from my high school boyfriend who called me bossy. I had gone to the beach with he and his family one day and when we walked off down the beach, apparently his mom thought I walked like a tramp, told him so later, and he told me. It really bothered me. It was my first introduction to what I would eventually learn is slut-shaming. For a long time after that, I was overly aware of how I moved my hips, and if I felt like I was swinging them too much, I’d stop.
These days, I swing these hips like it’s nobody’s business. It’s my body, my hips, and I will swing the hell out of them until I die.
4. "What Are You? Donald Trump?"
This particular statement came from an on-again off-again ex who drunkenly yelled it at me one night… while shaking a raw head of broccoli at me. Why did he yell this at me? I don’t know. I think maybe it had something to do with the fact that I was angry there was broccoli all over the floor, but I can’t be sure.
However, ever since Donald Trump loves to make ignorant, offensive statements and spout off about how rich he is, not only am I further confused by that comment from years ago, but I’m actually really embarrassed that he made that association in his drunkenness. I mean, my hair is way better and I’m not obsessed with building a wall, taking down China… and the dozens of the other bizarre ideas has. Either way, it made me more aware of how important it is to have a filter when talking and to not be afraid of using it.
5. "You’re F*cking Batshit Crazy."
Something tells me that I’m not the first, nor will I certainly be the last woman in the world to be told by some guy that she's “crazy.” In our society, when it comes to insulting women, nothing gets thrown around as often as “crazy,” — so original, right? Am I crazy? Maybe I sometimes border on it after a long day of bullsh*t, but crying, expressing my emotions, and OMG wanting to talk about feelings, does NOT make me or any other woman crazy. I'm not sure why this is such a difficult concept for some guys.
6. "I’m Surprised You Don’t Have Any Cellulite Considering Your Size."
If there was ever a backhanded compliment, it’s this one. This also comes from the guy who called me Donald Trump. It’s true; I don’t have cellulite, but the “considering your size,” part of the comment is what really killed me. Although I never really hated my body, per se, I had struggled with body acceptance, so that comment stung. It stung so deep, that I began a very unhealthy relationship with food. And while I’d eventually bounce back a bit, especially once he was out of my life, the impact that comment had such a profound impact on my self-worth that I can’t help by think about it every time I walk past a mirror in my underwear.
7. "I Just Don’t Think I Love You Enough."
This comment killed me. Although he loved me, something he reiterated and was adamant that I know that, he just didn’t love me enough. He also didn’t think he’d ever be able to love me enough. I don’t know what “enough” he was talking about, because he never mentioned whatever the invisible standard was that gave him the measure of “enough.” All I do know is that from there, I promised myself that I wouldn’t just make sure I was loved “more than enough,” but in turn, I’d love someone else “more than enough.”
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