I read somewhere recently, “promote what you love rather than bash what you hate.” We become what we focus our attention on after all. So rather than be angry with a man who deserves every ounce of my viciousness, I instead choose to be grateful for what a year with him has taught me about myself and other people.
Now I’ve seen the love that exists within me, surer than the sun, and it is stronger even than his betrayal. I have glimpsed time in a way I never did before. How easily we give our time to people not worth it. Years, months, even minutes too much. A year spent with him and I have a better appreciation of my time.
I thank him for teaching me about my anger and for showing me what can happen if we care too much about ourselves and not enough about other people. For bringing out my crazy side, my monster, so I can identify what triggers it.
Because of him I learned that some people will go to incredible lengths to mask their self-repulsion. They will lie and cheat in order to get what they want. To temporarily fill whatever void exists within them. They will take, use, consume, chew up, and spit out whatever leftovers remain. But it’s only because they are desperate to relieve their profound unhappiness, the infinite black cloud that follows them around, the one they create. For such people I have compassion because hate and resentment would only breed more people like them, and the world certainly doesn’t need that.
So I thank him for giving me a reason to practice compassion for someone who doesn’t know what compassion is. That might be one of the greatest things life can give us but that he will never have because he suffers too much over himself. Just as I will never know what it feels like to violate the lives and hearts of others for selfish fulfillment.
I thank him for showing me what loneliness looks like so that when the option to use other people like I consume food or toilet paper presents itself, I will recognize that this is not the kind of person I want to be. Loneliness results when we run from ourselves and we run from ourselves when we don’t like what we see.
He stood as a necessary point of reference for love. I thank him for disappearing for days at a time, then reappearing. For pushing and pulling me away over and over again. Now I know what it feels like to go slightly mad because I thought that was what love looked like. Thank God that wasn’t love.
I thank him for abandoning me when the only place he should have been was at my side. For that, I learned to take care of myself. I learned that I can carry myself through any kind of pain. Had he been there after all he would have only stolen my energy and contributed to my pain.
I thank him for drawing me in so I could identify up close the kind of man to stay away from, to protect my potential daughter from, to warn any son against becoming. His desire to know me was only because I have something he so badly wants but may never have because he is simply incapable of an honest life.
I thank him for teaching me about balance. In this life we don’t get all good or bad but in order to recognize either we must have the other. He has shown me that good exists the same way that darkness shows us the stars. The light in my life is brighter now because of his blackness. A mind-twisting year with him showed me how far away I was from a balanced, honest and loving relationship with myself.
I thank him for his storms, his blackouts, his acid rain, his months of deep, dark winter. For his smoggy, polluted skies. For the trash he left strewn about to fester and rot. For the hordes of useless junk he piled around himself. For his barren trees and empty pockets, cracked pavement and stained streets. It’s a world I could never live in but had to see so I know where to turn to avoid such a place. I thank him for showing me everything I don’t want to be, that I don’t want in my life. I can see myself much more clearly because of him and I’m grateful my self-image is nothing like his.
This loss has become my gain. I’ve been exposed to a type of character my previous sheltered life would never have shown me. I’ve learned about the type of person I could have become within his clutches. A warning of a fall rather than the fall itself, thankfully.
This does not weaken my heart, it strengthens it. It will not make me old or bitter. It may draw new lines on my face but that will only be because I’ve rejoiced in finally having my freedom back and to have laughed in the company of the honest, loving people I have in my life. We never lose, only learn. With this last thought, no remnants of him remain.