A long time ago, a girlfriend gave me a throw pillow.
It was decorated with metallic thread and sequins, and it was pretty, but also too small to be anything but decorative, and it was scratchy, and didn’t go with anything I owned. It was very obviously a (G)ift, picked out to fulfill the quota of some holiday or other, not a gift selected with me or my tastes particularly in mind. I rationalized it as “hey, it’s early in the relationship, she just doesn’t know me that well.”
We got on each others’ nerves, all the time, in small and pointless ways. Our conversations always seemed to consist of her having a conversation with some Theoretical Me in her head, while I struggled to be heard. She never seemed to include me in her decision-making or thought processes, or interested, actually, in understanding me at all. And truth to tell, while the idea of the shape of the relationship appealed to me, I never really got comfortable with her in my life. There was ever-present, ever-shifting friction, and it never got better, it just hurt.
It ended – of course – and I kept that pillow around more out of guilt than sentiment. If I’d been a nice enough person, accomodating enough, thoughtful enough, I would have found a place for it. I would put it out somewhere and find it clashed, or scratched, or kept falling on the floor because it didn’t fit the spot, so it would go through the wash and then back in a cupboard, until the next time I came across it and thought, oh, it’s not so bad, I should try again. Despite never really being used, it became threadbare and tattered. And in the end, it wound up in the bottom of my closet, where I came across it today.
Dear Reader, I cleaned out my closet this morning, and I threw that pillow away. Little things, important steps.