“I blamed him for so many things that he wasn’t doing instead of appreciating the things that he was.”
I’ve been reminiscing a lot lately while trying to connect these past four years of my educational experience together. Through this nostalgia, I’ve found myself laughing off situations like “yeah that was embarrassing,” or “damn, freshman year, ya know?” or even, “dude, he sucked. What a jerk,” and moving on. I find strength in being able to gaze back at my life and find humor in the bad parts and use those lessons to guide me in my future, but recently I’ve been stuck on one particular friendship, relationship, connection that I had with one resonating phrase attached: it was my fault.
For those who don’t know me closely, I’m extremely bad at letting things go. I still have an emotional connection to the goldfish that died in my 3rd grade classroom during my chore week of feeding him. I am obsessed with closure, and it’s a trait of myself that I’m not particularly fond of and am working on. I want to be able to look at disconnections and just let that gap be what it is—empty.
Yet, this one relationship that I swear Frank Ocean wrote “Self-Control” about, I can’t seem to shake. I tend to place blame, justifiably, on those that have hurt me and come to the solid conclusion that a lot of what happened there wasn’t my fault. I’ve stopped hating myself for other people’s decisions to not choose me. But here, he chose me. He picked me, and maybe not in the way that I wanted, but it was still me.
You know that episode of How I Met Your Mother where the gang discusses “the hook?” The basic principle is that everyone is either on someone’s hook or has someone on theirs. A person that you sort of keep around just in case your dream person doesn’t come through. Just in case it’s Saturday night and you didn’t get to go home with the guy you wanted. The person you call next. I think I kept this person on my hook, and I could not feel guiltier about it.
So maybe he didn’t want to take me to dinner. Maybe he wasn’t so good at telling me how he felt. Maybe I wanted more than he was capable of giving. But he tried, hard, to make me the happiest he could, and I blamed him for so many things that he wasn’t doing instead of appreciating the things that he was. He made me laugh at 10pm on a Wednesday and he bit his lower lip when I made him blush. He kept me stable, engaged, filled my stomach with big butterflies—monarchs with the crazy patterns you could get lost in like his smile. Make me use stupid clichés like that. He kissed me hard and held my face like he was cradling pottery. I should have delved into that. I should have loved his little efforts and cherished the time I had with him instead of always wishing I had more.
Yes, I should learn to let things go. And I should know when to recognize that my character, my opinion, my values are not a fault as to why something didn’t work out. I should stop blaming myself for other peoples’ choices. That much is clear to me, now.
But him, that’s all on me. I feel as though with recent “trends” in feminism, women feel like they need to stop making everything their fault. I agree. I understand that there is an inherit trait in women where they feel the need to constantly apologize for existing. However, I think also part of being a strong feminist and woman is learning to take responsibility for the things that you did do wrong. So learn to understand when you messed up, not because you should feel pain or beat yourself down, but so that you won’t make the same mistake again. Recognize when someone is giving you all that they can. Sometimes it’s not your fault, but part of growing into the person you want to become is recognizing when it is.
And as for him, I hope he knows I’m sorry. I’m so sorry for thinking I wasn’t hurting you when I was throwing accusations at you for not trying when maybe that’s what you were doing all along. I’m sorry for thinking we were disposable, for not giving you the space or time you needed, for rushing things because I thought that’s what I needed. I’m sorry for blaming you for not being ready when it was me who wasn’t ready for you. You deserve so much gracious love and wonder in your life, and I’m sorry I couldn’t give it to you. You were such huge bliss in my life and I’m sorry for not recognizing that when I should have. We’ve both made our handful of mistakes, but this one, it’s all on me.