And how I forgave — well, am forgiving — him.
Right now. With these words.
We met at a hip coffee shop — the kind where aspiring painters, designers + scribes converge to master the art of highly-caffeinated procrastination.
He leaned over my laptop — I was actually working, in fact — with a jet-black flop of hair + a toothy comedian’s grin.
Did I know anything about writing a press release, he asked? Well, as a matter of fact … yes I did.
We dated — read: tumultuously fooled around — for just a few flingy months.
Not long enough to fall (too) hard.
Just long enough to get hurt.
It swiftly came to light that this man was not destined to be The One. At least not for me.
When did I know? Oh, maybe it was the time he invited me out on a date … and brought along another woman he was seeing, as well. Sure, we hadn’t had the “are we exclusive?” conversation, yet. But still. C’mon.
Or maybe it was the time he fumbled + stumbled into a family-run restaurant, disheveled + stinking of beer, still too drunk from the previous night’s “fun” to place a coherent order. (I paid for his pancakes. In more ways than one.)
Or maybe it was the time I told him I loved him (What? I know. I was young…) and he pretended to be asleep — with theatrical snoring sound effects to drive the point home.
Looking back today, significantly more evolved and grown-up-ish, I know that I magnetized this man into my life because I didn’t feel worthy of real respect + affection. He mirrored the level of love — or lack thereof — that I felt for myself, at the time. I get it. It was a long time ago. I’ve grown. It’s OK.
But the little sliver of hurt is still there, like a microscopic splinter in your finger that only stings once every 1,000 days — just a moment, before it passes. Not a huge deal. And yet, it’s still there. A little tickle of memory that pricks just when you’ve almost forgotten.
With World Gratitude Day right on the horizon, I’ve been thinking a lot about gratitude, generosity, appreciation, splinters, prickles … and forgiveness.
And I’ve decided to write a gratitude note to the person who hurt me most.
Guy whose name I will not mention, this one’s for you:
Let me begin by saying: thank you.
Thank you for reminding me that …
It is possible to have a passionate, spine-tingling connection with a total stranger that you’ve just met in a coffee shop, on an unassuming Tuesday afternoon.
It is possible to find someone who really, really wants to kiss you at midnight in a sculpture garden, under the stars.
It is possible to find someone who really, really knows how to cook a sensational dish of Spaghetti alla Puttanesca. And wants — at least for a little while — to cook it for you.
It is possible to say “I love you” to someone, hear nothing but fake snoring, and survive.
Most of all, thank you for reminding me that …
It is possible to meet someone who is really, really struggling to be a compassionate human being. To acknowledge their struggle. Love them anyway. And then release them — swiftly & definitively — from your life.
Let me end by saying, again: thank you.
And goodbye, goodbye, goodbye.
What would happen to your heart — and the world — if you wrote a gratitude letter to the person who hurt you most?
It doesn’t have to be long. You don’t even have to send it. It just has to feel true.
Alexandra Franzen is a full-time inspirational writer + part-time collector of heart-shaped crystals. She is deathly allergic to Facebook, but still wants to be your friend. Wave hello at AlexandraFranzen.com and on Twitter at @Alex_Franzen.