Submitted by: Sydney Tyler Thomas
Sometimes it just doesn’t pay to share good news. I have a friend who insists on setting me up each time we get together. I made the mistake once of telling her about how painfully my last relationship ended and in doing so, I opened a door that I haven’t been able to close.
She has a very low opinion of men, and collects anecdotes about men behaving badly like stamp collectors collect stamps.
Every time we talk, she asks how things are going with my new guy. Despite the fact that I always say that things are great, she warns me to “be careful”, “watch your back”, “remember that men only want one thing”, “don’t believe anything they say because they all lie” blah… blah…blah.
I know she means well, she doesn’t want me to be hurt again – again. But asking me about my relationship only to tear it down hurts too.
Yes, I’ve been hurt. A lot. But over time I’ve come to understand that no situation, and no relationship, is without purpose. People are brought into our lives to teach us things, and for us to teach them things, and although they’re sometimes quite painful, these lessons are a necessary part of growing.
There is an exercise called “clarity through contrast” that involves reflecting on past relationships, specifically the things we do not want, in order to become clearer on what we do want. Once I was able to release the anger and the embarrassment of my failed relationships, I was able to see the value in them. Just as cold, dreary days make me appreciate the warmth of the sun, each of those relationships with Mr. Wrong has helped me be clearer about Mr. Right.
So, if I were to write an open letter to my exes, I’d simply say “thank you” to each of them.
Thank you for teaching me about the power of forgiveness when I was able to forgive my best friend for sleeping with you.
Thank you for realizing that you “weren’t man enough” to stay when I was diagnosed with a potentially fatal illness15 years ago. I was misdiagnosed. The doctors were wrong about me, but you were right about you.
Thank you for not adopting my daughter, even though we both wanted you to at the time. She’s so much better off without you in her life. I am too.
Thank you for making me realize that there isn’t enough love, compassion, or patience to heal a heart that isn’t ready or willing to be healed. The more I tried to heal your heart, the more I broke my own.
Thank you for being so impossible to please. The more I tried to change myself to be the person I thought you wanted me to be, the less I liked the person I’d become.
Thank you for breaking up with me so ruthlessly. It was a clean break, so there were no jagged edges to get in the way of my healing. Had you not ended things so completely, I might not have been over you when someone new came into my life.
Where did we get the notion that our hearts would never be broken?
Why are we so terrified of being hurt that we become unwilling or unable to open our hearts and souls to another?
The painful lessons of our past are not punishment – they are practice – to better prepare and equip us to handle the blessings God has in store for us when we’re ready to receive them.
So, yes, I’ve been hurt by men before. Many times, but you know what? I’m not mad at ’em.
Author Bio: Sydney Tyler Thomas is a writer, small business owner, and avid knitter. Her book, The Joy of Soulful Knitting: Reflections on the Art of the Craft, is available online at www.lulu.com/gracebaybooks. She lives in Virginia and is the proud mother of a daughter serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. Sydney runs a small knitting ministry aimed at helping women who are survivors of sexual violence and enjoys writing about issues facing women over 40 as they navigate through the second act, celebrating self-awareness, creativity, and spirituality. Sydney can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and can also be found on LinkedIn.