To the first man who ever broke my heart, thank you.
Thank you for making me so vulnerable.
The naked, stripped down, kind of vulnerable where every insecurity, every flaw, every rough piece of my heart was on display for you to see and you loved all those pieces. You accepted them. You nurtured them. You held my hand and the door. You fit in with my family. You called when you said you would. You danced with me in the kitchen. You loved me. And my God, did I ever love you. Thank you for letting me feel love like that for the first time–crazy, stupid love that consumed me so much I couldn’t breathe sometimes. I couldn’t settle. I couldn’t relax because a moment without you was an eternity and a moment with you was a dream.
Thank you for being that first love for me. You were a good one to have it with, and I’m grateful for that.
Thank you for deeming me a “cool girl.”
I remember sitting in the living room of your apartment, reading a book for class, while you worked on a film all afternoon with your friends. You’d periodically come in for water or a piece of equipment and throw a glance in my direction to see how I was doing. I’d close my book, look up at you, and smile.
“Take your time. I’m totally fine.”
“God, you’re such a cool girl.”
You’d kiss me on my forehead and go back outside.
Being a cool girl was the stamp of approval I longed for when I was twenty. The girl who is calm and cool and is “totally fine” with being ignored and an after-thought because if you don’t voice how you’re actually feeling, you’re a “cool girl.”
Thank you for calling me a “cool girl” so many times that I soon started to realize it was actually an insult.
Thank you for helping me realize that being a “cool girl” is not above or even equal to being a “strong girl” with an opinion and a voice and feelings that deserve to be respected. Thank you for turning ugly when I no longer wanted to be the girl in the living room reading. Because that ugly inside you made me realize you didn’t even know or probably love the real me–you loved the “cool” me.
Thank you for making me be sure that the next man I was with would never call me “a cool girl.”
Thank you for breaking my heart. Thank you for ripping it out of my chest and taking a giant bite out of it. Thank you for leaving me a sobbing mess on the front steps of your apartment. Thank you for staying quiet when I asked, “Do you even love me anymore?”
Thank you for not giving us another chance. Thank you for hanging up the phone as I begged.
Thank you for going back to your ex, weeks after we ended, because I needed to feel that low.
I needed to feel that beat and wronged and foolish. I needed to see how wretched someone could treat another. I needed you to be that first all-consuming love that somehow always ends in complete heartache. Thank you for being that cliche for me. Thank you for the heartache.
Thank you for saying goodbye to me. Thank you for saying goodbye to me because if you hadn’t–I never would have met the last man that will ever love me.
The man that got down on one knee and promised me forever. The man who never calls me a “cool girl,” who never stays silent when I tell him I love him. The man that shows me what respect and partnership and loyalty is.
Thank you for showing me that I deserved so much better than you.
Thank you for showing me how to stand up for myself. Thank you for being the outline for what I never wanted again. Thank you for hurting me so badly that I thought I would never be whole again. Thank you for showing me who I was. Thank you for being what I would never settle for. Thank you for making me realize how strong I truly was and that if I could crawl out of the depths of that pain and loneliness–I can do anything.