I am a big fan of movies and TV shows. All kinds of movies and TV shows. Thrillers, comedies, rom coms, you name it. I especially love the ones where I can relate to the protagonist. In the past, I have been compared to Jessica Day from New Girl because of my “weirdness” and Brad Pitt’s character from the Ocean’s trilogy because, apparently, I would be the one in the group constantly eating (and would probably still be eating while in the middle of planning a heist in Las Vegas, to be honest).
The last few years of my life, however, have not been so parallel with the protagonists who are, for all intents and purposes, the “good guys.” I turned 30 recently, and since then, my mind has had nothing but mostly sessions of self-introspection. And I have come to the sad, sad, sad realization that I don’t necessarily think I am a good person. I feel like I have been the antagonist the last few years in my own storyline. I have hurt plenty of people I cared about. What do you do with yourself when you realize you are not one of the “good guys” in your story?
Somewhere along the way, I lost someone. I lost a long-term relationship. Losing that person affected me so deeply that I truly feel like a part of me is gone.
When I look back at our relationship, I think he tried with every bit of his being to make me happy. Looking back, I was so selfish. The way I treated him was so subpar, to be honest. Somewhere along the way too, my friendships with people I have known for years became really, really strained. One day, I woke up at 4 a.m. and realized how alone I was. I no longer had my ex or three of my best friends. My ex and I were together for years, and it wasn’t awkward for me to still run to him in the midst of an existential crisis. And what he said has stuck with me to this day.
“You don’t reciprocate love to people who are willing to bend over and backwards for you. That is how you pushed me away, and that is probably why your friends are not around anymore. You need to make more of an effort for the people who care about you.”
At the end of our conversation, he still called me by my pet name, bubba, and told me he loved me. Even if he still cared, I could tell that he was over me. This conversation made me realize that I don’t ever want to have to cry to someone at four in the morning, asking why I am alone. I bawled my eyes out after our conversation ended.
Since then, I have gone through some major waves of depression and anxiety. But on the other side of the coin, this deep sadness I had within me forced me to take a hard look at myself and how I treated others. It forced me to go outside of myself and to think about others, a concept I had never heard of before.
As a first step, I listened to my ex and mindfully made an effort for the people who mattered most in my life. Two years after that conversation, I am mindfully still working on just being an all around good person.
Isn’t that part usually in the middle of the movie where we are invested in the imperfect protagonist and root for them as they go through some shit before they truly find their happy ending?
I feel like that’s where I am at. On the cusp of things. On the cusp of finding the best version of myself, the one who I will like. The one who will never take people for granted again. The one who will stop questioning if she is a bad person because she realizes for herself that she isn’t.
Through this process, I’ve learned a few things. First, the process of forgiving yourself. It is difficult and excruciating, but also very freeing — a gift you should afford to present yourself. Second is never taking the people who matter to you for granted. Treasure those who care about you so that you get to keep the people you truly want to stay in your life. Third is independence. I am so used to leaning on people because there are plenty of people who do care about me. Throughout my own life’s journey for the past two years, however, I finally learned how to stand on my own two feet, financially and emotionally. Fast forward to two years, and I am more independent now than I ever have been. That in itself is a newfound pride, I have never had before. I used to think that I couldn’t make it in life without certain people around, but now, I am pretty sure that I can.
All this is a pretty good start to the path I want to go on, but I cannot wait to be on the path of truly forgiving myself and really figuring how my life is going to play out. After all, I am my own protagonist in my life, and I must continuously cheer myself on. You, reader, must do the same for yourself, too.
To quote my favorite author, Paolo Coehlo: “When you find your path, you must not be afraid. You need to have sufficient courage to make mistakes. Disappointment, defeat, and despair are the tools used to show us the way.”