I accidentally found a piece written about me by my college boyfriend's sister, recently. Ouch.
I'm not sad that her opinion of me is crummy or that she saw me as a monster, because if I'm honest with myself I know I was. Her story is definitely biased, but it's only biased in the sense that that was the me that she knew. Save for the tidbit about the scarf. I don't know why she thought I threw away his "$150 cashmere scarf" that she had scoured the city for because I had "knit him one that Christmas," only because the Christmas she's referring to was two years before I learned to knit, so I question the integrity of all of her facts. I don't remember throwing away a scarf. I remember college boyfriend being really careless with his shit, though. I've forgotten most of the details, but reading her words was refreshing in that it gave me an accurate insight into my character at the time, but is was shoddy when it comes to actual factual events.
Anyway, the issue here is that she knew me as a "walking scowl", and I couldn't have made that impression more strongly had I actually disliked her the first time I met her. And honestly if there is a bunch of people whose bad opinion of me really doesn't bother me, it's that whole family. Her story about my "just desserts" (i.e. her brother dumping me...worst punishment, ever!) is only funny because she clearly still sees me as that person; because she wrote it as if, by god, I should heed her words or continue to be treated the way her brother and his family treated me FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE. DUN DUN DUN. It was downright hilarious. It's not like I had no idea I was this big crazy bitch back then. Plus it's good to know that while my anger was obviously wasted—as all anger is—my suspicions of their hatred weren't signs of paranoid schizophrenia. I smile a lot more now that I have a boyfriend who loves me and friends who I actually acknowledge (who love me, too).
It was because of college boyfriend's family, mostly, that I was terrified to pieces when I first met J's family. My experience with the cb's family had been so mind-numbingly terrible—so much like driving an ice pick through my eyeballs—I was convinced that no one's mother could ever love me and that I was doomed to be seen as a "walking scowl" forever. I don't dispute that over the years my attitude grew worse, but I know that I did say thank you the first time I met them. I was, though, and am still painfully shy, so I probably didn't come off as grateful. They also scared the crap out of me; they were overbearing and overwhelming and just plain scary the whole time, and they mostly kept to themselves when they weren't being nice to the point of insincerity.
Two significant things changed after college. First, that it's important to me that my boyfriend has a good relationship with his mother, and J has an excellent relationship with his. Secondly, more importantly, his relationship to me is one of love and trust that we have built over the years by ultimately being kind to each other. It is his unquestioning faith in my goodness that makes me want to be a better person. I am still crazy, and I am still mean-spirited and judgmental sometimes, but J knows how to diffuse it, and he knows when and how to step up and be a man about it, which is precisely why I am putty in his hands. It's also why I don't have to resort to silly antics or petty jealousy just to get him to stay.
The crucial ingredient missing back then was maturity on everyone's part (mine, yes. Absolutely. But his especially. And his family? Yikes), which is why it made me sad to see her holding onto that anger for such a long time—enough to post about it online, anyway, and without a hint of irony. I have no delusions about the impression I made, and although they'd be the last people to believe me, I have a few stories about how woefully ungracious he was to my family the first time he met them, too.
Anyway, the long and short of it is this: a lot of bad things happened in my college relationship. Mostly it was because we were the worst fit that two people could probably be. And I never wonder what would have happened if I might have been more gracious—more like myself—when I first met them. Losing him was the best thing that ever happened to me, and prolonging the end of that misery would have actually ruined my life. I've made some mistakes in my time, but the length and significance of that relationship in my life was probably the biggest.
And with this story, another chapter of that time in my life is closed forever. Sometimes I wish that my slate had been clean before I met J, but I realize that our relationship wouldn't be as rich and purely happy as it is if I hadn't made those mistakes. They're mine, and for better or for worse, they've shaped me. I figured out what happiness and love are when you don't try to force them. I'm not saying that's worth a hundred ex-boyfriends of that caliber, but to end up being with someone like J it has certainly been worth the journey it took to get here.