18 Things We Forget To Thank Our Exes For

Most people don’t see relationships for what they are because they’re too focused on what they need them to be. We want people to be placeholders – buffers between us and ourselves, promises that will save us from the brutal inevitability of our existence. We don’t have a healthy perception of what it means to connect and share a life with someone – even if just a portion of it – because we aren’t taught.
We don’t learn how to be grateful for what doesn’t work out, or to see everything for what it can teach us, how it can bring us closer to the people we hope to be. We think that the only good love is forever love, because what we want from love is the same thing we want from marriage and religion and an inflated sense of self-purpose: to be saved.
So we begin to believe that whatever existed between us and our now-fizzled-out-flames is obsolete, because it didn’t fuel us forever. We have a hard time accepting that the things that end weren’t necessarily wrong, they were just designed for that time, or for a purpose that was already served. Here, a few steps toward getting there, all the things you should thank your ex for:

1. For showing you what needed to be healed. The most beautiful thing about love is that it illuminates everything, but most especially the things that stand in the way of it. And as it happens, those things – insecurity and limiting beliefs and a disconnect from yourself and a desire to be saved – tend to stand in the way of a lot of other things too. Love forces you to see them, and love will help you heal them, very often by leaving you to do it yourself.

2. For arguing with you, so you could learn how to pick your battles. And fight clean. And become the kind of person who knows how to let the little things go and approach the big things with more grace and objectivity and kindness and truth.

3. For pushing you to your breaking point, so you could know what your limits are. So you could learn to differentiate when it’s time to draw a line or shift past your comfort zone; to see where you want to reach, and know where you need to stand.

4. For not giving you what you needed, so you could see how much you needed it. For showing you what you need to feel loved, and what bending on actually makes you break.

5. For defying what you thought love would be. So you could recognize it in the places – and people – you were least expecting. So you could see how all the things you swore were deal-breakers and the traits you thought weren’t negotiable and the types you thought you were bound to, were ultimately just a product of your own shortsightedness.

6. For sharing a portion of their life with you, so you could learn that love exists in the little things. So you could know how much meaning can be packed into just a few weeks, that if love can grow between two broke teenagers or in a college dorm, it can happen anywhere. That love will transcend the circumstances its placed in, and anything less will become clear.

7. For making you question what it means to love someone, so you could redefine it for yourself. For as long as you circled back and forth between trying to decipher whether or not it was real love, or “meant to be love” or even something that’s worthwhile, you were understanding it on your own terms, learning that nobody else can teach you what love is. It’s bigger and smaller and kinder and more accepting in proportion to how much you are. It is you, and your experience of it is a projection of yourself.

8. For making you so mad you had to sit with yourself and ask: “why does this bother me.” And when the answer was inevitably rooted in an insecurity or an unhealed past or an emotionally-buried-something-else, you had to unearth it, and see it, and acknowledge it, and deal with it, and change.

9. For sharing a part of themselves with you, and for teaching you that ‘good‘ love, ‘right’ love, ‘fated‘ love, is not always the forever kind. No matter who you are to one another now, what existed between you is never rendered obsolete (you can just willfully ignore it for a time.)

10. For teaching you what’s worth giving your head space to. In having to see them with their new love, in all those lonely nights, with all the little broken pieces of the trust you handed over, you had to learn to rebuild your life. You eventually had to choose not to let it consume you. You had to pick what mattered more: becoming who you want to be, or trying to fix who you never really were.

11. For forgiving you – even if not entirely – because it taught you it’s possible. It showed you that time doesn’t dissolve what happened, but growing past being the person who was hurt does.

12. For the discomfort, and all the ways it made you move and change and grow and step into the life you have now. All the ways you could no longer be who you were, and think the way you thought, and behave the way you instinctively did, those were the genesis stories of who you became. The things you left and the places you went and the shoulders you leaned on became the pieces of the life you were always meant to find.

13. For loving you even when you weren’t your best self and showing you that you didn’t need to be perfect, but you do have to be whole (and those are two different things.)

14. For teaching you to be grateful for the things that don’t work out, because now that the whole picture is in front of you, you see how what you lost made way for what you didn’t yet know you’d find.

15. For helping to create the person who is loved by someone else, a someone else you now feel you were maybe getting ready for all along.

16. For teaching you something about love, even if it’s just “what it’s not.” Relationships are assignments. They are exercises in opening your heart and seeing with your soul and accepting someone as much as you do yourself. Learning what love isn’t is just as important as seeing what it is. By contrast, you understand. Your relationships are not categorized into what mattered because it lasted and what didn’t because it didn’t. It was all a piece of the story, a page of the book, a part of the path that you can’t rectify because you were never meant to. You can only accept it by knowing it was never meant to be more than it was.

17. For putting you through the worst, so you know what you have the capacity to handle. So for the rest of your life, you can look back and say: “I never thought I would get through that and I did, I can get through this, too.”

18. For letting you go, so you could find the love you were seeking all along. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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