I've had this story in me for ages. Well, since 1997, when it, you know, happened to me. It's a story of love, loss and Kelly Taylor-ish "I choose me."
So ten years ago I was unceremoniously dumped by my boyfriend of 2 years, The Red. The last three months of this long-distance relationship were seriously beating a dead horse even though I didn't want to admit it. I was doing so much reassuring to The Red that he was a good boyfriend that I forgot about myself. When I tried to articulate my needs, it came out in crazy ways because, at age 25, I didn't have a handle on who I was and what I wanted. It was quite the rollercoaster being accommodating and demanding at the same time. I certainly didn't have my emotional act together. The crazy (at least on my side) came to a head at his high school reunion where, faced with a situation that was in no way, shape or form about me, I turned into a churlish ball of resentment. This resulted in a 5 hour fight before the reunion. Then AT the reunion, I gathered all the other resentful significant others and herded them to the hotel bar where we all refused to leave said bar and actually be part of the reunion. Which goes to show that I am a natural born community organizer.
In the end it was a classic situation of the more he pulled away, the tighter I held on. I wanted to fight for all the things that were good about us and it hurt the bejeezus out of me that the person on the other end wasn't willing to fight for something that was so precious. I didn't realize how much I was apologizing for myself, apologizing for WANTING to be with him, like it was some crazy ass burden that he had to carry. So he ended it. Looking back, that was the right think to do. We were both bringing the crazy by the bucketload and didn't know how to stop.
That shook me to my core. It made me question my worth. Whether I was worth fighting for and whether I could EVER be in a relationship if I couldn't make that one work. (Thank god that didn't come to fruition - Thanks J!!!)
I had a friend Tom, who I had lunch with weekly to dish over our love lives. We had this fear that only one of us could be in a functional relationship at a time and we monitored our love lives in great detail during these lunches. So about two weeks after the breakup, I had my weekly lunch with Tom and he hands over a box. In the box was an alarm clock in the shape of Mushu the dragon from Mulan. It was my favorite movie and I watched in four or five times that summer. Tom saved ten box cereal box tops to get me the dragon alarm clock.
And then I got it. I got it that I was worth having someone think of me enough to send ten box tops to General Mills to be redeemed for a plastic alarm clock. This is what friends do. They see you and they know you and they think of you. The silly inconsequential things that mean a lot to you are also important to your friends. To Tom, I was worthy of being cared for, considered, and respected. That alarm clock was the first huge step in healing from the breakup. It was a tangible reminder about my own worth as a person.
Here's the thing folks, don't settle for less than your friends. We all deserve a significant other who wants to be with us. Who celebrates all of the weird and goofy things about us. We deserve someone who makes a place for us in their lives and knows that place is a cherished gift we give each other and not an obligation.
In short, we deserve someone who will save ten box tops to get us a plastic dragon alarm clock.