An Emotional Letter to Every Man I Ever Dated

Dear…Boys,

All of you. From the gay one, to the rich one, to the very taken one, to the older one, to the younger one, to the douchebag, to the stoner, to the one who just couldn’t fall in love with me, to the chef, to the tap dancer, to the soccer player, to the reality tv cameraman…

Thank you.

I would not be where I am at this very moment, which is, quite literally, in paradise, if it weren’t for all of you.

If you had complimented me when I wanted you to, it would have taken me that much longer to figure out how deep my insecurity lies.

If you had held doors for me and carried my heavy bags around New York City for me like “a true gentleman would”, it would have taken me that much longer to figure out how independent I can be.

If you had told me you loved me, it would have taken me that much longer to fall apart. Which means it would have taken me that much longer to arrive here, in this moment right now, when I can tell you thank you.

Since I’ve arrived in Hawaii, which is where I’m writing you from by the way, I have done so much work.

The work I’m speaking of is not the type of work you do. It’s not numbers on a computer or running a restaurant, although I respect you for that and appreciate the nice dinners you bought me because of it.

The work I’ve been doing here is different. It’s emotional. It’s spiritual. It’s mental. It is feeling the pain that I have allowed each one of you to inflict on me, accepting that pain, and forgiving you.

I’ve sat on cliffs and thought through the time I found your porn addiction on my own laptop.

I’ve laid under a sky of stars that you can’t even fathom and thought through all the names you used to call me. The “crazy”. The “bitch”. The “mess”.

I’ve swam out in the ocean with fish you’ve only seen in storybooks and thought about the bender you decided to have – cocaine, Grey Goose, and all your boys – the night that you were supposed to help me pack my car up before my Christmas show contract.

I’ve thought through it. Felt the anger. Felt the hurt. Felt the memory. Felt that shit.

And let it go.

Of course, there are still things I haven’t conquered. For instance, why I allowed myself to be taken to a hotel room during your hockey tournament only to have to hide out for three days so no one knew you were cheating on your girlfriend. But that’s not really on you. That’s on me.

Why I allowed myself to be treated like an object – someone who you could dress up, pay for, and show off at company dinners – feeling like your own personal doll who you could bring along when you needed me and forget to call me when it was poker night. But that’s not really on you. That’s on me.

Why I allowed myself to believe that your big plans to go back to school, get a degree, put a ring on it, and move to New York City were real. Even though my gut told me it was never going to happen, I moved to another state to be with you anyways. But that’s not really on you. That’s on me.

I take responsibility for staying in situations that my gut told me to leave. My instincts have always been there. I chose to ignore them.

My friends saw it. My mother saw it. My boss saw it. But I stayed. I loved. I loved you hard.

What I’ve learned in the past six weeks is that although all of you are great comedy material, and you’re great topics of conversation when I go to unlimited mimosa brunches with the girls, it’s not all your fault that it all ended up the way it did.

I had control over most of the situations I was put in with you guys. And I stayed. I stayed and thought loving you would fix everything.

You see, I fucking love a good project. What can I fix? How can I help? Who can I save?

All of you were great fucking projects. I’ll help you through that addiction. I’ll save you from your girlfriend. I’ll warm your cold, money-hungry heart.

Projects are great distractions, aren’t they? Projects could help distract me from all the work I should have been doing, on myself.

I’m quite the project. I’m sure you all knew that once you jumped into bed with me and discovered my insecurities. I’m sure you found that out when I was too afraid to eat in front of you on a date but would binge on your Nutella when you went to work the next morning. I’m sure you knew all of that when I picked you apart, nagged at you, told you every little thing you did that was wrong.

You may not know this, but all that nagging? The picking? The criticizing? All that shit is a reflection of me. All that shit I didn’t like about you? That has something to do with shit in myself that I don’t like.

I don’t like my own procrastination, but I sure as hell don’t mind bitching about yours.

I don’t like my own addictions and habits, but I sure as hell don’t mind telling you how bad yours are.

Fuck, man.

It was never my responsibility to fix you. And I’m sorry that I expected you, in return, to fix me.

Throughout all this work I’ve been doing, I’ve been journaling. Brooke, my sister from another mother, has been buying me fucking journals for six years as gifts and I never used any of them. Funny how I’ve filled three of them just since I’ve been here.

I’ve never done what I’m about to do before. Shared my journaling. I mean it’s the secret stuff that comes right from the brain – raw and real. But I’m gonna let you see what I wrote about some of you in my journal. Ain’t no names. Ain’t no nicknames even. I just used pronouns.

This work that you will read below, is what is changing my life. Opening my heart. Letting light in.

This is what I’ve learned:

“He didn’t want to live his life loving himself so how could he love me? He is a direct reflection of me. He didn’t care enough about himself to love me too. That’s not enough love to go around. Basically it’s not that he didn’t want me. It’s like that thing that Emily always says when we’re working together. On planes, you gotta put the oxygen mask on yourself before you can help someone else. It’s the same in life man. It’s that he couldn’t figure out how to put on the oxygen mask first in order to move on to me. He was just like me. We took our energy from each other, instead of investing it in ourselves. We tried to complete each other instead of ourselves. We were each other’s addiction. Porn and food aside, we used each other to escape. I absolutely used him as an escape.”

“You couldn’t love me enough. And I deserve to be loved as much as I love myself. Which wasn’t much then. You could only love me as much as I loved myself. I couldn’t control when you loved me more or less. I couldn’t get compliments out of you. But that’s because I needed your validation so badly instead of stating to the universe that I was beautiful with or without you. The porn addiction would have been there with or without me. Binge eating would be there with or without you. Another person cannot save you from addiction. They can take you to rehab. They can offer an ear. But they cannot just heal an addiction because then THEY become the addiction. And when they peace out, leave, disappear, you’ll need to find something else to fill that void with until you admit that you’re using addiction to fill the void.”

“It’s not that he didn’t want me. He couldn’t give me what he didn’t already posess. There was barely enough love for him. He spread himself too thin by offering me any at all.”

“I am so thankful to have experienced the love I had with you. It was never about you not finding me sexy. You just had blurred vision as to what was right in front of you because you were too preoccupied trying to figure out why you weren’t happy. Why you weren’t living fully. I pray that you start living. I pray that you find self-love.” 

“I forgive you for being a direct reflection of me. I accept that you did not intentionally hurt me during our relationship. I believe that I am going to love myself. Only then will I attract more and more and more and more and more and more love to me – whether it be men, women, friends, strangers – all kinds of love. I will attract love. I will attract love. I deserve love. And so do you.”

“He really tried. And when he tried I didn’t believe him. When someone tells you you’re beautiful, believe it. When someone tries to love you, believe it. When someone offers you love, trust it. You might get hurt, but it’s better to trust than to skepticize. At least if you end up getting hurt, you felt something spectacular first.”

I still have work to do, boys. I’ve conquered the big ones – literally, no pun intended – the two and a half year relationship, the whole dating a man who didn’t know he was gay thing, also the 8 month relationship with a man who just did not…love me. Now I have to move on to the smaller stuff. The verbal abuse. The objectification. The general douchebaggery of dating in NYC.

But again, that’s for me to deal with. I allowed myself to be treated that way. I stayed. I listened. I allowed it.

So this letter is about pure forgiveness. Letting go. Accepting what has happened. Everyone thought this blog was gonna be about you guys. For years, I made my life about you guys. You were what I talked about at girl’s night out. You were what I used in musical theatre class when I had to sing to someone who hurt me. You were what I used as part of my incredible self-deprecating humor skills.

And you’ll always be there to talk about, sing to, and make fun of. But not in the same way.

What has happened will no longer define who I am. I accept that I am fucking awesome, but not fucking perfect, and there will be a man who comes along and sees that, and accepts that, and he can choose to stay and experience it, or he can choose to move on. Whatever he chooses to do, will not define me. It might hurt in the moment if he chooses to move on, but it will not define me anymore.

I deserve someone who accepts all of my shit, will allow me to work on it by myself while dating me, and doesn’t try to fix me. I deserve someone who will allow me to love him as hard as I love. I love people hard, man. I don’t hold back. I have a big heart and I wear it on my sleeve and one day a man is gonna come along and fucking love that about me.

I say one day. But today’s the day, actually. He’s here. He’s real. It’s all happening. I’ve met him. Which is a story for later.

But for today, let me say thank you, boys, for all of it. All the laughs, all the cries, all the shit.

Everything that has happened in the past ten years has gotten me to this point. I would never be able to appreciate the good if I hadn’t had the bad.

And if I didn’t take the time to let you all go, and forgive you for all the shit, I wouldn’t have any room in my heart to let someone new and amazing in.

I encourage you to do the exact same thing as I’ve been doing. Do the work dude. It pays off.

Much love to all of you. Seriously – even if I waited eight months for you to say “i love you” because the girl shouldn’t say it first and I never got to tell you how I felt about you – let me say it now.

I loved you. Some of you, I will always, always love. Always in my heart. No regrets. Thank you for the good times and the bad times. The laughs and the cries. And all the shit.

Sending you healing and love from the Big Island of Hawaii,

Amanda

aka Baby

aka Sugar

aka Mandy

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To my blog readers: I encourage you to journal. I encourage you to write letters to exes and never send them. I encourage you to write down random trains of thought. I encourage you to think through the pain of past relationships and feel it and have a good cry and try to see why it still makes you so angry. I encourage you to find the reflections of yourself in other people and notice why it bothers you so much. I encourage you to forgive. I encourage you to remember the good times and laugh and get goosebumps. I encourage you to let go. I encourage you to do exactly what I just did.

The sooner you take the time to let go of the past, the sooner you can truly feel, and love, in the present. And trust me when I say, the most amazing thing, that thing you have been waiting for your whole life, could show up at any moment, once you’ve done the work. Do the work. Let the shit go. Feel it. Forgive it. Let it go. And get ready for one hell of a ride.

The payoff, is beauty. Love. Respect. Growth. Sex. Support. Amazingness. Gorgeousness. Belly laughs. And of course, someone to lay underneath the stars with and kiss.

Next week’s posting:

A Sensible Recap

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