The Million Dollar Question

Here it is folks, first and foremost:

Why am I so awful to myself?

I had a moment that brought me here to open myself up today. I guess, actually, this all started last summer. 

Early last year, after I left my husband, I found myself in a relationship with a man who has now become nothing more than a great friend. We were an awful couple. We were both just getting out of serious relationships and we treated each other with no kindness, respect, honesty, or love. We were just place-fillers for the ghosts of our own wayward relationships. After a brutal and unexpected dumping (truly, my blinders at that point were astounding), I took to the rebound like I had never done before.

Which brings us to Robert.

Robert was a casual friend who was deeply involved with several women. We were open about this, and despite it, a flirtatious relationship erupted. Maybe because of it. It was a dark time in my life where my choices were almost intentionally damaging, in hindsight. We came to an agreement, which (because my self worth was lower than I’d ever thought imaginable) yielded no pleasure for me, but plenty for him, behind the backs of his current women. The only pleasure I was to receive was the honor of being involved with him. 

I went along with it twice. It had is trashy thrills, and the black eyeliner-clad hooker deep inside of me was elated. For a while. Until the feeling of being used set in too deeply. But at that point, in my emotionally barren state, it wasn’t clear that these choices were harmful. 

Anyhow. After two late night filthy rendezvous, he and I called things off. We’ve remained very good friends, and we don’t talk about our trysts too often.

Last night, in a voicemail, he called to ask how I felt about all of it now. Seemingly out of the blue. He asked me to pull no punches. To speak my truth to him. And I did as he asked. I told him how used I felt. I told him how I would never have done it without being in an emotionally low place. I told him I didn’t regret a moment of it, because it brought us together as better friends. I told him, with all of the honesty in my heart, that I hated myself then, and did it because I felt unworthy of him, or anyone. I felt unworthy to be anyone’s girlfriend, and so secret occasional cocksucker was just the right level I felt I deserved. 

I couldn’t have imagined his response to my return voicemail.

I received the most heartfelt, beautiful message I’ve received in a long time. Maybe ever. The kind that makes you laugh and cry and breathe raggedly and cry some more. And we’re talking ugly slobbery sobs. 

It was an apology. The deepest apology I’ve ever heard. The most gut-wrenchingly honest apology, perhaps ever spoken. 

He told me he’d never have done that if he knew.
He told me I was worth so much more than all of that.
He told me how sorry he was for being so blind, and being an instrument in my self-destruction, instead of a tool in my self-improvement.
He said so much more.

And it felt as though every horrible, low-down, shitty guy I’ve ever been with got together and collectively apologized for years of making me feel unworthy and unpretty. 

That guy I banged twice even though he bought me a kids meal and kept the toy for his son? I forgive him.
The guy who asked me out six weeks into our relationship because he was stoned and forgot I was his girlfriend? I forgive him.
The guy who cheated on me in our apartment by hiding my things in a closet while he fucked someone in our room? Forgiven.
The guy who fucked my best friend on my birthday in my bed and asked me to sleep on the couch? Forgiven.

I realize this sounds crazy. None of these horrible guys deserve my forgiveness. But it’s imperative. Because here’s the answer to the million dollar question. 

In holding my grudges against these men, these stupid boys, these errors of judgement, I realized the key to it all.

I don’t need to forgive them.

I need to forgive myself.

I’m so awful to myself because I am (as we all are) the product of my experiences. I’ve lived, loved and embraced the good ones. But years and years of never letting go of the bad ones, in the form of retaining my hurt, is like a closet full of a dead relative’s belongings. They were important and beautiful in their own time, and now they hurt too deeply to look at, so the closet door gets shut and they silently linger. 

Tonight, because of Robert, because of all of this piecing together, I got vicarious closure for every bad relationship I’ve ever invested my heart in. And now, hopefully, I can begin to clear out my closet and forgive myself, inch by inch.