11 Enlightening Lessons ALL Of My Exes Taught Me

Flickr / Leo Hidalgo
Flickr / Leo Hidalgo

If you’re like me, you have a lot of Exes…

Ex-Roommates

Ex-Best Friends

Ex-Boyfriends/Girlfriends

These exes are exes for a reason. And that reason is that something didn’t quite work. Maybe it was a small thing, maybe it was just the effects of time, and maybe it was a BIG FREAKIN’ DEAL.

Whatever it was, we move on. We find a new roommate (or decide to live alone). We make new friends. We start dating other people. We find people to fill those voids, and maybe they aren’t filled entirely, but the placeholders are no longer empty.

Regardless of why they are no longer involved in your life, you learn a lot from the experiences you gain from these people. If you could write a letter to your exes, what would you say?

Dear Ex,

First of all, I want you to know, 

1. I AM HAPPY.

And I am happy because of you. Not in the way you might think, but you are one of the reasons I am happy. You helped me get here and for that, I thank you. I learned a lot from our time together, which in turn, brought me to the woman I have become.

2. You taught me about conflict. 

Whether it was a conflict about who’s turn it was to do the dishes or about why you wouldn’t tell me certain things, I learned what complicated conflict looked like. Sure, the dishes were an easy conflict to resolve, but maybe the dishes weren’t the actual issue. Maybe you were frustrated that I didn’t invite you to an activity and that pile of plates in the sink was an easy release. Maybe you weren’t telling me the entirety of a story because you still couldn’t accept the truth of the situation. Regardless of what the conflict was, I learned how to spot it, how to address it (not perfectly by any means), and how to move on from it with a shaky, but respectful heart.

3. You taught me (and I am still learning) how to communicate.

Through trial and error. Believe it or not, ignoring a problem doesn’t make it go away. (But wouldn’t that be nice?!) Bringing up issues can be really awkward, and I’m still not good at it, even if I’m a Communication major. However, stumbling our way through the uncomfortable chats about your emotionally abusive boyfriend, or about your ex-girlfriend who was threatening to punch me in the face, made us stronger at that moment. I still have so much work to do on this topic, but I’m thankful that you helped grow me as a compassionate communicator.

4. You taught me what I should expect from a partner (be it romantic or platonic). 

There were times when you treated me fabulously. If there hadn’t been good times, we would not have been friends/roommates/romantic partners. I loved when we would dance in our PJ’s in the front room to OneDirection. I loved that you surprised me by coming to visit me for the weekend, when I thought you were working. I loved that we drove your dad’s Mustang on that spring day to go get Frappuccino’s when the sun finally decided to come out. Those good times helped create my list of requirements when looking for a friend, a boyfriend or a roommate. Even if we ended, the good moments have helped shape what I desire in my relationships.

5. You taught me how to trust. 

I cried to you. I told you some of my most hidden fears. I leaned on you when I couldn’t hold myself up. You supported me in the good times and in the bad. I learned to put stock in another person and that was an incredible lesson to learn. But…

6. I had to learn how to bounce back from failed trust. 

You hurt me sometimes. Cheating. Gossiping. Rumors. At times in my life, you absolutely broke me. But you know what the amazing part is?! I haven’t stopped trusting. Just because you betrayed my friendship, it doesn’t mean that I will never trust a friend again! Just because you broke my heart, it doesn’t mean that I will never love again. You cannot ruin me. I am stronger than that.

7. You taught me to trust my intuition. 

You know that time when I found inappropriate photos of another woman on your phone? Yeah, I trusted my intuition and confronted you on that. I knew something was up, and they weren’t just old photos of an ex-girlfriend. You know when you stopped texting me when a certain someone was around? I should have listened to my gut at that time, and I learned that my intuition isn’t usually making things up. I am learning to trust myself when a situation makes me uncomfortable.

8. I taught myself how to be alone.

Yep, you heard me. I don’t mind sleeping by myself. I get the whole freaking bed! I don’t mind showing up to the group activity without my bestie in tow. I don’t mind spending a Tuesday night blogging. I learned that I’d rather be in the company of an incredibly strong, creative and hilarious woman (MYSELF, obvs) than be with someone who is constantly belittling me or making me feel inadequate.

9. You taught me how to stand up for myself. 

When someone tells me that I’m too fat, or that I’m overreacting, or that I shouldn’t feel a certain way, I know that I deserve better and you can damn well bet I will stand up for myself. I learned that if anyone is going to put me down, it’s my responsibility to bring myself back up.

10. I learned how to fight graciously. 

We’re obviously not close any more. If it wasn’t just the ebb and flow of time that brought us to where we are, we probably got in a fight. I have not held myself together perfectly in every fight, but through these issues, I learned how to compose myself in a way that cannot be used to talk ill of me when the fight is over. At times, I didn’t really execute the fights in a way that would exemplify said grace, but hindsight has taught me a lot about how to conduct myself and I feel like I have learned how to get in a fight, while trying my best to stay civil. Even when I didn’t feel like you deserved civility.

11. I learned how to love myself.

You broke my heart. You turned friends against me. You took me down. You made stabs that had lasting impact. You said things that I am still trying to forget. But you know what? I love myself. It took work, and it took a lot of faking it, but I got there. It’s a constant learning opportunity because some days my pants are too tight, and some days I still feel anger toward you, and some days, I really hope you stub your toe or hit your funny bone (because I would never wish anything serious upon you, but those things are harmless, painful and/or annoying). But on those days where I falter, I still remember how much I’ve learned and how far I’ve come. For some stupid cliche analogy, I’m a traveler down the road of life, and I’ve stopped plenty of places, but I’m having a killer time on this wild adventure.

So thank you. Thank you for screwing me over. Thank you for making me cry. Thank you for leaving your bicycle in the middle of the living room. Thank you for pushing me to be stronger, better, more loving, and all around more bad-ass.

Cheers, my dear Ex. 

Life’s a bitch, but as the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt says, a bitch is the mother of cute puppies, so that’s pretty much a compliment. 

Sincerely,

Your Ex-Best Friend/Ex-Roommate/ Ex-Girlfriend. TC mark

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