If you’re expecting a diatribe about how much I hate ex-boyfriends, I can write you one. It’ll take five minutes, because every woman, everywhere, can write a diatribe about hating ex-boyfriends. In the case of this post, I’m not hating on ex’s. I’m hating on myself. I am an ex-hater. What did I hate? Happy relationships. When did I give up the habit? September, 2009.
Hater, Exhibit A: I like making fun of couples. I like rolling my eyes when they do “I love you’s” and smoochy faces in public. For years, I’ve bantered with my single friends… “Marriage? Oh, how cliché” … “She’s so tied down” … “How universally DULL” … “Har, har, har, I’m so above it all.” I have bantered so much that my friends have given up on the idea of me ever getting married. I’m so terrifying, in fact, that I’ve never been a bridesmaid. When friends get married, I’m usually the only member of the group not in the wedding, and I think it’s because they fear me like a voodoo curse. (Don’t let Sara be in your wedding; her hater juju will lead to a divorce in three years.)
Hater, Exhibit B: I date jerks. I generally find men who are attracted to the bitch in me. I pick them up because of my cynical sense of humor, my addiction to sports, or my movie banter. These guys turn out to be jerks. I end up broken, with additional ammunition for my hater lifestyle, and it is no fault of theirs. It’s my fault, because I get involved with the jerks, and then, I expect things to work out. I could say, “Woe is me,” but I do it to myself—consciously or subconsciously—to perpetuate the idea that happy relationships are to be hated.
Then, I had an intervention.
My friends didn’t do it. They thought my hater-hood was funny, and whenever another jerk came along and stomped on their souls, they could come to me because I would make them laugh and massage a bit of my hater-balm on their bloody wounds. No, instead, a man intervened, and he was damn sneaky about it.
I met Jake at a bar, where all us haters like to hang. This was nothing original, because I met boys at bars all the time. (Like I said, my aura of hater was like a jerk magnet.) But I liked Jake right away. For starters, he was hot—about six-foot, beefy build, brown eyes, and a sense of humor that made my ribs hurt. He got my number; we did the date thing, but I’d done the date thing before. It never ended well. Then, I got sick. I’m not talking about a runny nose. I’m talking about a massive sinus infection that sent me to urgent care. After being pumped full of pills (they even shot me full of antibiotics via IV), I curled into a ball on my couch.
And then, what do you suppose happened? Jake came over. He brought me chicken soup, Gatorade, and every DVD he owned. He scooped me up from the couch and wrapped me in his warmth. He spent an afternoon kissing my forehead and rubbing my shoulders, and blame it on the illness, but I felt a bit of hate dissipate. Then—horror of horrors—I couldn’t let him go. I wanted him around all the time. I started blowing off my girlfriends (who were NOT HAPPY with this new me). The first time he called me “Sweetheart,” yeah, I giggled, because since when did jerks use pet names? But wait…Jake wasn’t a jerk. What terror, to realize I was dating a good man!
Then, (oh, shit) I realized I was in love.
Love, Exhibit A: Jake had a job interview in Illinois. Illinois is far away. For a week, I cried in the shower every day. I cried while making coffee. I cried, thinking about how much I was crying over this man who was melting me into mush.
Love, Exhibit B: I invited Jake to come home for Christmas. To meet my family. To sleep in my parents’ house. To meet my single female friends—fellow haters, who looked at me like I’d lost my freakin’ mind. And there I stood, holding his hand, showing him off.
Fast forward to today, and holy hell, we’re the couple making smoochy faces in public! We’re the ones saying “I love you” every time we hang up the phone. I’m dating a good man, and I’m in a happy relationship! ACK! How did this happen? How did I get here? What the hell is going on?
I sat down one day last week, all alone in my apartment. I looked at the remnants of a single life—posters from my old band (and an existence of perpetual singlehood), pictures of “the girls” (and all the times we went out looking for trouble), and even self-help books (12 steps to getting over Mr. Jerkface). I realized the hate was gone. I had given it up, as I’d started up with Jake. There was no hate left, because a good man had turned me around and fed me chicken soup.
I’m still a hater sometimes. I hate on computer tech support. I hate on the Dallas Cowboys. I hate on South Carolina and Arizona drivers (GUILTY!). But I’m not hating on the happy couples anymore. In fact, the haters are now using me as an example. “Happy relationship? How dull. Har, har, har…” Just please don’t ask me to be a bridesmaid.