A Thank-You Letter to My Exes


To the Men I Used to Love:


Hey, it's been a while. I hope all is well. This might seem super random, but I've been thinking about you. Not in the "she want that old thing back" type of way, but in a mature, reflective type of way. The I'm-not-who-I-used-to-be-with-you type of way. I'm finally in a place where I can say that I'm genuinely happy with who and where I am, and you played a significant role in me getting to this point.


Recently I asked one of my coworkers, who's remarried, what her biggest takeaway from her first marriage was. She said that her ex-husband was too "free-spirited." Now my coworker is probably one of the most vibrant, free-spirited individuals I've ever met, so her response took me aback a little at first. But after she explained, it made perfect sense: her first marriage didn't work because there was no balance. She had to become less of her vibrant, free-spirited self to compensate for his lack of maturity and structure, which led to resentment. To him, she was a nag. To her, he was a child.


My coworker's story put a lot into perspective about us. My head and heart were in a different space when we were together. I thought I knew love. I thought I knew how to love. I expected you to love me the way I tried to love you. And see, that's the thing. I had all these expectations of you -- of us. I expected you to be the amazing man I always knew you could be. I expected you to be that man for me. I expected us to bring out the best in one another. But now I realize that I was expecting too much of you -- of us -- and not enough of myself.


Looking back, I realize that our inability to make it work was ultimately out of our control. It wasn't about who was right or wrong, we just didn't have the right balance. Instead of complementing one another's strengths, we mirrored each other's weaknesses:


I was opinionated, you were opinionated.


I was combative, you were combative.


I was a smart-ass, you were a smart-ass.


So we continuously bumped heads and pushed each other's buttons and became lesser versions of ourselves trying to make up for the stark imbalance in our relationship. We became emotionally overworked trying to force something that didn't quite fit. Neither of us were bad people, we just weren't good for one another.


But the good that did come from our relationship were the lessons:


I learned how to communicate in a much healthier way because people can't read minds and arguing is draining as hell. I learned that our relationship triggered some insecurities within myself that needed to be addressed, so I used writing and therapy as an outlet to heal. I learned the importance of meeting people where they are instead of expecting them to be who I think they could/should be. And I learned how to love and value myself the way I desired to be loved and valued by you.


So for that, I thank you. I'm grateful for our relationship because it pushed me to evolve and require better for myself. I hope it did the same for you.


-Kori


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What's a lesson you've learned from a previous relationship? Log in to drop a comment below and let's discuss!

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