To the boys who ruined us:
From the bottom of our hearts, thank you.
Because we couldn’t go on thinking every romance would end up like Cinderella and Prince Charming. Wesley and Buttercup. Megara and Hercules, if we’re talking personal favorites.
Because once we hit double digits, we realize boys don’t actually have cooties, but power. The power to tantalize, to control. What we have yet to realize, is that they have power because we allow them to.
Because we have hearts, and not just in the anatomical sense. We have hearts – hearts that, while the boys were outside playing with dirt and Hot Wheels, were hypnotized by Disney movies and fairytales. We have hearts that have been told by our brains to love, and love unconditionally. To love and to trust, in that dizzy little feeling that engulfs our brains, electrifies our neurons, and reverberates throughout our entire bodies.
And for many years this goes on. We develop silly little crushes, write notes folded up like origami, and pray that our MASH turns out correctly. I’m talking to you, 90’s girls.
And for many years we think that this is love. These silly little crushes, I mean.
And we think these boys are incapable of destruction. Sure, they bang up their Hot Wheels, wipe out their Lego buildings…but those are just toys.
We are not toys. Our hearts are not to be messed with.
How old were you when you realized you were capable of being destroyed?
I was blissfully ignorant for 18 years.
But we can’t close off our feelings forever. We develop hormones, to put it bluntly, and life brings us that one boy who shows us just how capable we are of falling. And suddenly we’ve hit the bottom. Those same hearts, which have been taught to believe in requited love, now lie in the pit of the very grave we dug for ourselves.
Have you ever seen someone try and dig themselves out of a grave?
Metaphorically speaking, it’s not easy. Trying to look up when all you feel is despair. Shattered. Paranoid. Vulnerable. “How did I get here?” and more importantly, “How do I get out?”
We all have that one guy that started it all.
We all have that one guy that provoked our fairy-tale beliefs and subsequently, revealed the unpleasant truths.
And even after we realized he was no Prince Charming, we did this thing where we convinced ourselves he was. Because we were older, and we had learned how to play tricks on our brains.
The same brain that convinced us that Disney love was legit? Payback time.
But eventually, from that bottomless pit of self-loathing and paranoia we crawled out of our graves. We were wounded, but we were back from the dead.
We all have the rebound.
And the second guy.
Possibly a third, even a fourth.
Does the list go on? Is it still going? Who hurt you the most?
Because you should thank them.
Yes, you should thank them, for all the hurt they caused. The years, weeks, days, minutes, and seconds of suffering.
The texts left unanswered. The clipped words. The feelings not reciprocated.
You felt pain, there’s no denying it. Did that pain make you feel worthless and alone? Did you watch yourself cry every night, only to regret the mornings of red, puffy eyes? Did you spend hours staring at a black phone screen, jumping at the slightest noise or vibration? Did you learn to restrict your food, because it felt like the only thing you had control over? Did you develop a severe mental health disorder because of it? Did it put your life at risk?
…Did you hate yourself for it?
And now, I ask you this:
Did you crawl back out of that grave?
I’m not saying you weren’t wounded. That it didn’t take years to get back to anything remotely close to humanlike. That the mental health issues don’t continue to affect your life. Your decisions. That the mere utterance of his name doesn’t bring about a funny little pit in your stomach. That the mere utterance of his name doesn’t bring flashbacks to a darker, puffier-eyed you.
I’m saying you crawled out.
Because one day you realized you never wanted to feel that way anymore. You didn’t want to feel those drastic mood shifts, all because of him. You didn’t want to shelter yourself from your friends, even your family. You didn’t want to use food as a weapon…against your self. You didn’t want to watch yourself cry every night.
Because as you watched yourself cry in the mirror of your bedroom, you saw what you had become. You were humbled by your very reflection. Those periods of isolation had given you the time to be alone, to reflect and introspect. On your emotions. Your thoughts. Those feelings of inadequacy.
Your phone lit up. It was him.
Elation – and then, vengeance.
Something deep within you had shifted.
You didn’t need another person to validate you.
Those dark times had forced you to shed light. To realize what you never wanted to feel, never wanted to be. A reflection you never wanted to see again.
We are all going to experience bad times in life. Bad boyfriends. Unrequited love. Heartbreak.
What is a chocolate chip cookie without canned peas?
What is a sunny day without its rainy counterpart?
What is true love without heartbreak?
To know and feel true pleasure we must first understand our aversions, experience failure.
So, to the boys who ruined us:
We are hesitant, but humbled.
We know the depths of our hearts.
We are better because of you.