Message Delivered: When God Allows the Truth to Hurt

“See, the problem is that I am my own person and you are not,” said the lying cheater with a substance abuse problem. Said the man who couldn’t be on time to save his life. Said the man who found delight in hurting the feelings of those around him when his lies were called out. I was the problem.

What simultaneously infuriated and stunned me was the unfortunate wisdom behind those words. For as many faults as he had, I couldn’t disagree. 

I won’t give him too much credit. I highly doubt he’s a profound philosopher who saw deeply into my soul and wanted to enlighten me in order to help me change. The more likely scenario is that he wanted an excuse to leave me so he could move on to the new, unsuspecting blonde he had been chatting up at the bar behind all of his lovers’ backs. Unless he found it convenient to be cruelly honest, lying was his first language. Unbeknownst to him, God desperately needed me to hear those words, and his drunk mouth was the only effective vessel at the time.

This isn’t the only time God has allowed unsavory characters to speak sense into me. If I didn’t require having my heart ripped out of my chest to learn most lessons in life, perhaps God wouldn’t feel the need to permit men from whom I desperately crave validation and acceptance to send harsh truths I need to hear. If only the work of a telegram or cute carrier pigeon would suffice.

As someone who often struggles with thinking in absolutes, I panic when nuggets of truth are spewed from the mouths of jerks. Does this mean I’m all bad and they’re better than me? Am I wrong about all of the red flags I see? While spending countless hours trying to discredit terrifying thoughts in order to self-soothe, I’m ashamed to admit that I stumbled upon a rather helpful Reddit post in which someone used the analogy of people being similar to broken clocks. A broken clock can sometimes be accurate at telling time, but it’s still very broken.

I once spent two years in my mid-twenties pining after a bartender whose values never aligned with mine. No red flag was left unseen or unspoken. No consistency was displayed. Did that stop me from hoping? Frustratingly, no. We had a short-lived interaction not monumental enough to even be considered a fling, but the flirtation, mind games and very odd first kiss somehow had me hooked. I overlooked his unhealthy habits and masked insecurities because I saw potential, and his aloof attitude drew me in. After he decided I was too much emotional labor with not enough pay off, I spent every Saturday night sitting at the end of the bar where he worked, hoping for an ounce of attention or a change of heart.

One afternoon (yes, afternoon), he covered my small tab, since it was only one drink. I insisted that he run my card so I could leave a tip. “Worry about yourself for once,” he sighed. Those words haunted me; not only were they words no man had ever said to me, but it was almost as if he felt sorry for me. Pity rarely fosters attraction.

Heading into my 30th year, my therapist had been insisting that I wasn’t ready for a relationship due to my codependent tendencies and inability to value myself. She encouraged me to refrain from dating until I was kinder to myself in order to avoid running into more men who smelled my wounds and reopened them for their benefit. I took much offense to her opinion and urgings, because to my self-loathing brain, not being ready for a relationship was just another flaw on my resume of insufficiencies that already lived in the forefront of my mind. It was too painful to consider.

My latest emotional assassin’s words still plague me. My one-sided, short-lived fling demolished by a poorly timed and highly intoxicated miscommunication between a very immature man and an overly emotional woman birthed criticisms that I can’t unhear. 

I knew I was falling for him, but seeing as how he was only on the brink of 24, I thought it would be wise to ask about his intentions after a few too many cocktails on what I thought was an actual date. Since we had kissed five minutes before I seemingly ruined the evening with an innocent question, I didn’t anticipate the repulsion and sheer terror he displayed once the question was asked. His tactless overreaction ripped open the wounds of the many times I found myself in the same situation in my 20s, and the tears began flowing. As a result, the guy who broke his neck at any reasonably attractive female walking by, laughed at crude humor and expressed excitement over strip clubs had the audacity to tell me I wasn’t ready for a relationship. If that wasn’t bad enough, he also suggested I try therapy.

Did he have any clue that, for months, my therapist had been telling me I wasn’t ready for a relationship? Absolutely not. In fact, after I had confided in him about an insecurity of mine an hour prior to our argument, he decided to throw that back at me as ammo. This was likely triggered by his realization that his attempt at no-strings-attached sex was not going to happen. If anything, his statements about my relationship readiness and need for therapy were likely projections. But, as the saying goes, what he meant for evil, God meant for good.

No more drunk dating. No more overlooking red flags and seeking out men whose priorities are not with God. No more attempts at forcing love because I lack the faith to believe that God has someone better in His timing.

By the way – the bartender eventually did come around, but not in the way I would have liked. A few months after I moved cities and stopped visiting his bar every weekend, I received a text message after midnight that read, “I still think about you sometimes.” My heart was pounding. Finally.

“I still think about you, too,” I quickly texted back.

“Well, my thoughts are a bit more salacious,” he replied.

After realizing I was nothing more than a toy and an ego stroke, I moved on to bigger but not better men for the next few years (after all, he was five feet tall). Today, however, I spend my Saturdays in God’s waiting room.


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