Friday, November 16, 2007

Defying the Curse of the Boyfriend Sweater

A few months ago I "broke up" with the man I'd been dating. To be honest, to say that we "broke up" is not quite accurate. Technically, he dumped me. But that's not the point of this story.

My ex knew that I love to knit and to my surprise, just a few weeks before he vanished, he mentioned the possibility of me knitting an afghan for him. I was elated. I scoured the internet for patterns and he finally chose a great one and I ordered the yarn. In fact, the box of 15 skeins of black wool arrived the week before he flew the coop.

So, there I was, sitting home alone, newly dumped and crying like there was no tomorrow, staring at a big box full of black yarn - a very expensive big box of black yarn, I might add. Yes, I was aware of the Curse of the Boyfriend Sweater. And, although I don't consider myself to be superstitious, I've been a victim of the curse in the past. So naturally my first instinct was to return the yarn, or if that wasn't possible, to sell it on e-bay.

But then this wasn't technically the Boyfriend Sweater Curse because he wasn't my boyfriend anymore, right? More importantly, although I couldn't explain why at the time, I needed to knit this afghan. And I'm so glad I did, because transforming that black box of yarn that symbolized a failed relationship into something that I'm very proud of was just what I needed to do to help me move on.

What started out as a big box of black wool is now a beautiful black cabled afghan that I gave to my ex today. It took the better part of two months to knit, but it was worth every minute that I spent on it.

Why would I spend that kind of money and time on a man who dumped me? I'm so glad you asked! :)

Knitting this afghan was not about him, it was about me. For me, there is something so cathartic, so healing, about knitting. The time I spend knitting is meditative, it's contemplative, it's prayerful, it's relaxing and it's creative. And in the end, it's much less expensive and much more productive than time spent talking to a therapist.

When I started this project, it was painfully slow-going. Perhaps the flood of tears clouded my vision and slowed me down. I didn't think I'd ever be able to get through this. By the time I reached the middle, I was mad as hell and the yarn was almost flying through my fingers.

But then something very different happened. The true lessons of this experience started to take shape. I did do it right this time. I did learn from all those failed relationships of the past and entered this one with hope and optimism, but also with important knowledge about myself, my co-dependent tendencies and my "relationship issues". In this relationship, probably for the first time, I was the woman I wanted to be, and damn it, she's pretty cool.

So while there are days that I still miss him, and though I detest the way he handled our break-up, I can't help but be grateful for the lessons this experience gave me. I'm more self-confident now than ever before. I have an even clearer idea of what I want (and don't want) in a relationship, and I know that I can survive without one. How can I stay mad at someone who, albeit unknowingly, helped me discover these truths about myself?

Needless to say, I'm no longer heartbroken. I'm no longer angry. I just am.

So what's the moral of this story? Not everything we think we're doing for someone else is really about them, sometimes it's about us. Knitting, in particular, is about so much more than the finished product. It's about the process. I have no idea how my ex will respond to the afghan. I have absolutely no illusions about getting back together. In fact, although I'm hoping that he'll keep it, I'm not even sure that he will. But that's not the point. What matters is that the process of knitting that afghan for him helped me find much-needed closure. In this case, the quasi-curse turned out to be a blessing.


Mary said...

Whoa -- you're a bigger person than I am. Not sure I'd give it to him after all that work. But it seems to have provided you peace as well as some therapeutic closure. And you never know what good might come from it....

Mary said...

You are way more forgiving than I could have been. I would not, however, want that yarn to go to waste. But, I would not have given the afghan to the ex. I probably would have donated it to charity. I'm just not that nice. I hope that you have many happy days ahead of you.