I don’t think it’s possible to do something really great without having to overcome a little bit of opposition. Before I went to Spain the head of the WSU Spanish Department told me I was a fool and that I would fail if I went to Spain the next year.
At the time, I was dating a guy named L. No, this is not a pseudonym; that was what we called him. L and I were very mismatched and I was unhappy most of the time, but there is this one moment that I will always remember and be thankful for when it comes to L. After I left the professor’s office, I was in tears because he told me that I couldn’t go to Spain – that it would be a big mistake. I met up with L and told him what was wrong.
“Well,” he said, shrugging his huge shoulders, “I guess you’re just going to have to prove him wrong, aren’t you?”
It was as simple as that. There was no questioning whether or not the man that headed the department that I wanted a degree in was right. There was no apology, no comforting, just a simple answer. My crying stopped, L and I broke up, I went to Spain, and I lasted through one of the hardest years of my life that has made me into the person I am today. And no, it wouldn’t have been any easier if I had waited another year like the professor told me I had to.
There are little things that all of my boyfriends have given me like this. After my hardest breakup, my friend Mindy told me that everyone is put in your life for a reason – which I had already believed – but that sometimes their time in your life was very limited. She was basically telling me not to discount our relationship because it had only lasted five months, and he had ended it far before I was ready. It took me a long time, but I realized that she was right. From Clint, I learned how great a relationship can be – and what real communication looks like. We were ultimately not made for each other, and my friends thought he lacked a sense of adventure that I need in a partner to be happy, but I learned more from my time with him than I have with anyone else.
My last relationship is what I would call a train wreck. Any time I bring up Josh in conversation, my friends get angry and don’t want to talk about it. Strangely, I’m not near as angry at Josh, I think because I hold myself responsible for what I let him do to me and my emotional state. However, there’s one moment in our relationship that I consider the reason he was there. We were in the middle of a fight – our first of several breakup fights – and he said, “If you want to write, you just need to do it. No more talking about it, working other jobs, complaining. Just write and the rest will take care of itself.”
That should have been the end. If I had let him go then, I would have saved myself a lot of pain and anger; I also would have saved my friends a lot of grief on my behalf. Because of Josh, though, I finally got the guts to do what I needed to do. I wouldn’t be where I am now without that conversation.
Of course, I also consider Josh to be one of the people on the other side of the coin. He is what I refer to when I talk about overcoming adversity to accomplish something great. When I wake up in the middle of the night and find his empty promises still tumbling through my head, I remember how much better my life is without him, regardless of the pain it took to get there. When I have a week like last week, when it seemed the hurdles were insurmountable, I remember all these things I’ve learned, and it helps. I think, “Hell, I lived in Spain for a year, taught toddlers to ski, overcame a broken heart AND am happier and better off without a manipulative bully. How could THIS possibly be worse?” And immediately, I feel better.
Love and hurtling hurtle kisses