I remember the first time I got dumped.
A high school boyfriend pulled me out into the hallway and told me he'd been "hanging out" with another girl. I smiled and said, "Okay. Are we still on for this weekend though?" He looked shocked, paused and then we made plans to have a family dinner with his parents the following night.
So that was the first time I got dumped, I just didn't know it. I picked up on it later though, after an evening of making dinner with his parents we got into his car for him to drive me home. We pulled into my driveway and, with the lights still on and the car still running, he told me he didn't want to see me anymore. I walked into my house, numb, and sat on the floor of the bathroom. I turned the shower on so I could cry freely without my family hearing. That was the second time I got dumped.
The next time I got dumped was by the first boyfriend I've ever actually been in love with. He made me dinner, let me pick the movie we watched, and then when the night was over he told me he had cheated on me. I remember the first words out of my mouth were something along the lines of, "I forgive you. We can work through this." And I meant it, but I'm glad he didn't let me prove it. Because being in love makes you say some really stupid things and makes you think that some things are worth saving, when in reality they've been broken beyond repair for a long time.
I think it would be funny to sit here and write down all of the times I've ever been dumped or had my heart broken. But I don't have time to sit here writing for 14 days straight. And you don't really want to read that. What I'm going to do is share a story with you that a friend of mine told me a few weekends ago.
One time she got dumped on her birthday. And in the process of being dumped, he told her that she was a 6 out of 10. And the worst part? She hugged him and told him it was okay. She told me that (at the time) she thought if she was sweet and nice throughout the process of him ending things, that he might change his mind. And I completely empathize. It made me flash back to my relationship with my ex, where in the stages directly following our break-up, I tried to take the blame for things ending, and made excuses for his awful behavior and the many ways he hurt me. I wanted desperately to retain a relationship with him. So much so that it took a physical and emotional toll on me. It took a long time for me to realize that I never did anything to deserve the hurt that made up the majority of our time together. And it also took me a long time to realize that I wasn't unhappy because our relationship was over, I was unhappy because I was still emotionally invested in a relationship that was over.
Now that I'm older (a little), I've finally realized the secret to being happy.
You don't have to be friends with people who make you sad.
Pretty simple, right?
I don't care how much you love that person, or how much you've gone through together in the past. I don't care that you grew up together, or that you work in the same office. You don't have to spend your precious time with people who are awful to you.
You can be cordial and respectful, because that's what grown ups do. But you don't have to go out of your way to check in on them and see how things are going. You can forgive them, because it feels good and helps you heal, but you don't have to text them on their birthday, or even remain friends with them on social media.
My world changed on the day when I finally admitted to myself that staying friends with my ex boyfriends was hurting me more than it was helping me.
When a man or woman breaks up with you and says the infamous phrase, "I still want to be friends." You can say, "Thanks, but no thanks." It's okay if you don't want to hang out with someone who slept next to you in bed at night and who's also made you cry. I've got plenty of friends who I haven't been involved with romantically, I don't really need to complicate things.
And this doesn't just apply to people you've dated. If it turns out that your "friends" aren't really that nice to you after all, you don't have to keep calling them your friends. Remember what your life was like before you met that person? You can go back to that. It feels empowering to tell a mean co-worker that although you respect them as an individual, that you just don't like when you work together. You can rejoice when you finally tell a close friend that sometimes the way she acts hurts your feelings and that you don't want to be friends with someone like that.
I'll admit that it's hard. It's hard to be honest with yourself and other people about the way they make you feel. It makes you feel vulnerable and weak. They might accuse you of overreacting or even lying. It's also hard to know that being honest might hurt the other person's feelings. It's a balance. But in the grand scheme of things, you always have to do what's best for you.
And, in regards to the earlier portion of this essay, it's easy to feel guilty for doing this. I don't know what it is, why we're socialized into constantly apologizing for ourselves. Why we have to feel guilting for standing up for ourselves and telling the truth. I don't know why I blamed myself for my boyfriends cheating on me. I don't know why I feel bad when I have to tell someone to their face that they hurt my feelings, they should be the one's that feel bad. Is it empathy or is it just stupidity?
That's something I'm still dealing with and working on. I do know that I've never been happier than I am right now, and I credit a lot of my happiness to being able to stay away from people who hurt my feelings. I'm the only person I have to spend the rest of my life with, so I'm going to make sure that I really like being around me.