The Millenium Falcon
This one is a little all over the place. It’s hard to place this next story into any specific category. Do we file it under #GenderNorms #Breakup, #YouGoGirl #Relationship, #FriendsWithBenefits, #TuesdayNightPepTalk or, hell, even #ThisIsTheStoryOfHowIEndedMyToxicRelationshipByBuildingAMilleniumFalconOutOfLego? It’s hard to say. I’ll let you decide on that one.
While I’d love to say that this the story of how I ended my toxic relationship by building a Millennium Falcon out of lego, it’s not. This toxic relationship continued for four months longer than it should have, while I continued to day-dream that everything would turn out “alright”. However, I can say that I finally cut ties with this person back in August, a month before I started dating my current boyfriend and, quite-frankly, the love of my life. Whatever you ladies and gents are going through, whatever terrible relationship you need to let go of, whether it be a relationship or a friendship, whatever shitty situation comes to mind as you read this, I am here to tell you that when you let go of the toxicity that is clouding your life and stealing your sunshine, life really does get better. I know it’s easier said than done. Trust me, I know. But I am also here to tell you that YOU CAN DO IT. You’ll end that awful relationship, you’ll find that perfect job, you’ll meet that special someone, you’ll travel the world, you’ll settle down in that in that kick-ass house with possibly some kick-ass kids (your call, my friend) and you’ll live your dreams. But even if, right now, it seems like you can’t, kudos to you for staying strong and not giving up. You are a true hero. #NotAllHeroesWearCapes.
P.S. Let’s end the practice of gender norms. It isn’t news to everyone that gender norms exist. Women are expected to be thin, sexy, emotional, dramatic, child-obsessed, dressed like a princess, and obsessed with flowers, barbies, and chocolate, etc., etc., etc. Meanwhile, men aren’t allowed to have emotions, wear makeup, or be thin and lanky, but they must have one or all of the following traits: be the “man of the house” who makes all the decisions, paint the fence, fix the car, be a doctor, be self-confident, wear the pants, blah-blah-blah. And, while I’ve experienced the weight of people's expectations first-hand on more occasions than one, the story I’m about to tell involves one of the many times I’ve been a victim of gender stereotypes. Lego is an everyone toy. Live and let live, my friends.
The following is a non-fiction narrative written from my perspective.
The Millennium Falcon
We both loved Lego. We fought over who loved it more and we never settled the argument. It was me, though. He always said, “You’re a girl; Lego is a boy’s toy.” As if that would convince me he loved it more. It did the exact opposite.
I was the son my dad never had. We would play video games, ride our bikes, throw a baseball in the park. Nothing was ever out of reach because of my gender. Before I played with my Barbies, my dad and I would build a house for them out of Lego. Lego is not a boy’s toy.
So when my boyfriend would tell me that he should be in charge of building it because he was a boy and he had more experience, I had something to say about that.
“I played with Lego just as much as you did as a kid. I bet I played with it even more than you. Lego was my toy.”
He would just scoff and grab hold of the manual, holding it three inches away from his face to count the little pegs so that he could make sure he put the piece in the right spot. I’d take the piece out of his hand and put it down in the right spot without more than a single glance at the manual. But he was the pro, right?
We bought the Millennium Falcon for us to build together as a shared Christmas present last year. I thought it would be a bonding experience that would bring us closer together. I was always looking for ways to do new things with him and save the relationship that I could feel was dying.
We only got to the second package (out of ten) before we had to set it aside because of all the fighting. When we broke up four months later, it sat on top of my dresser, collecting dust, which would have driven him crazy. Every time my cat’s fur passed onto the ship, he would blow on it excessively to get it off, complaining the whole time about the cat.
I pulled down the unfinished spacecraft from my dresser almost a year later and left the dust that settled into its deepest cracks exactly where it was. I placed it on the floor and grabbed the box that once held it, dumping out the numbered plastic bags onto the floor and organizing them. There were eight bags left, two of which were labelled eight; I guess that step took longer. Inside each bag was a smaller bag filled with the smallest pieces. I took bag number three and grabbed the scissors. Just as I was about to slice into the bag, I stopped.
I never wanted to finish building the Lego after we broke up, in case we got back together. We bought it so we could start a Christmas tradition together and it felt like a betrayal to finish it without him.
We didn’t even make it to this Christmas. We remained “friends”— really, friends-with-benefits— in the months that followed the breakup. Even after he got a new girlfriend in June, our “benefits” became an affair. I would ask him to leave her, and he would tell me he still loved me but that our relationship was too broken for us to fix. Yet, every week since we broke up, he was always with me. And every time I looked at the half-assed attempt at Lego, my heart was reminded of his decision to be with her out of convenience.
It was almost December when I cut open bag number three and dumped the pieces onto the hardwood. My cat heard the noise and came into my room, sniffing the pieces.
He would have shooed him away by now, I thought.
I let my cat play with some of the pieces before I took them away and tacked them onto the ship. I held the manual a normal distance from my face and followed the directions until I was already finishing bag five. It took us a month to finish just one bag. It took me an hour to finish three, stopping along the way to take pictures to document the progress.
“It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you’re not being yelled at, isn’t it?” I asked my cat who was holding a red piece of Lego between his teeth.
A month ago, I told his new girlfriend what he was up to when she wasn’t around. Bitch move? Probably. But I couldn’t bear the thought of her wasting another second on a man who would never feel the same way as she did. One of us already went through that, and I didn’t want there to be another.
She broke up with him on the spot and cut him out of her life; this was something I wish I had the courage to do when we broke up the first time around. He called me screaming at me, telling me I had no right to tell her that he was cheating on her for the entirety of their relationship. She had a right to know, and that’s exactly what I told him. He swore he’d never speak to me again. He called me the next day.
“I feel like I was in a douchebag coma and that I couldn’t see how much of an asshole I was until now. I’m
so sorry for everything I put you through.”
I wish I could have told myself then that he was full of shit. Moving over to my bed, where I could make myself more comfortable, I tore open bag six and the little bag inside it. I assembled little Chewbacca and Han Solo and set them aside. I finished putting together the outside of the ship when I got a text from him.
“I hope you’re doing well.”
I looked at the half-built Millennium Falcon and grabbed bag number seven. If he hoped I was doing well, he wouldn’t have continuously broke my heart every month that we were together. It had been a week since I broke up with him because he told me “I think I’m only with you so I don’t have to be alone.” My hand shot up and whipped across his face before I could even think about what I was doing, leaving a red mark in its place. I showed him the door.
“Don’t you ever talk to me again!”
I screamed, though I knew he would, and wasn’t surprised when he did. He was always afraid of being alone. But this time, I was not letting him back in. I opened both bags labelled eight because the manual didn’t specify which one I’d be needing and I didn’t have time to figure it out. I looked at my alarm clock, which read 12:27am, and I immediately regretted it. I suspected my mind was getting tired, but knowing what time it was confirmed it.
My eyes were closing as I put on the final piece from both bags; my makeup smudged as I rubbed them in an attempt to stay awake. I had only one more bag to go. I took a shot of Malibu rum and shook my head vigorously. I even gave myself a little slap on the cheeks. It didn’t really wake me up, but it was worth a try.
“Come on, Brittany. You can do this,” I encouraged myself, because no one else was going to do it. I needed to show him that he wasn’t allowed back in. Not this time.
I spilled the contents of bag nine onto my bed and got to work. I flipped through the manual, making sure that my tiredness didn’t allow for any screw ups. It had to be perfect. I placed the Millennium Falcon back on my dresser and took a step back, grabbing my cell phone from the edge of my nightstand, his message still marked “unread.”
I took a picture of the finished product and made sure it looked just as amazing as it felt to have it finished. I posted the picture onto Facebook. The caption read, “Finally finished this bad boy!” Within an hour it got over twenty likes.
Not one of them was from him.