A year ago I wanted a boyfriend. It’s not something I talked about excessively or wore myself out trying to find. I would mention to my friends or sisters every now and then about a person I had met and how I wondered why they hadn’t texted me back in two days. It wasn’t something I wanted to be superficial about. I’d met countless girls who would refer to their significant other as “my boyfriend” more often than actually stating his name in a sentence. It wouldn’t be a trophy won or experience gained, it was simply something that made me wonder if my life could be shaped differently by having one.
I imagined meeting someone in a coffee shop. He would approach me of course because I would be far too shy to talk to him first. Perhaps we’d have a conversation about a band sticker he noticed on my laptop, and just before he left he’d jot down his number on a scrap of paper so we could talk more about local bands. I would text my best friend in all caps immediately, “YOU WILL NEVER GUESS WHAT JUST HAPPENED” and she would get excited for me and ask me what he looked like and how tall he was and whether he seemed intelligent or not.
I wanted someone to hold my hand and ask about each of my rings, where they came from and why I never took them off. I wanted someone to pay attention to the minuscule things about me- the way I purposefully wore mismatched earrings or how I always sat with my backpack in my lap because I felt more secure holding onto something. I wanted to take someone to art museums and not have to feel rushed, we would actually bask in each artwork and point out tiny details together.
Well one day I actually did meet someone in a coffee shop and he actually did approach me first. We didn’t listen to the same bands but we still texted each other later. He held my hand but was always adjusting because my rings were uncomfortable between his fingers. We went to an art museum together but he was never interested in any of the renaissance paintings. I liked him a lot and he liked me a lot. That was enough for us until it wasn’t.
He didn’t like it when I didn’t text him back quickly and he really didn’t like it when I had to cancel our plans. I found myself apologizing constantly because we were fighting constantly. He always wanted more of my time -more of me- and I began to schedule my weeks around him. Well I’ll get out of school around this time, and I’ll be seeing him a couple hours after that. Wait, I have a test in a couple days. How long will we see each other for? I’ll need time to study but there’s no way I can change our plans now, he’ll flip out. I guess I’ll just have to study before he gets here. And stay up later when he brings me back home. My friends missed me and would ask me to hang out but 9 times out of 10 my reply would be “Sorry, I totally would but he and I already have plans. We’ll find time though.” Except I didn’t find time for them.
We sat so close to each other in restaurant booths but my thoughts were always so far away. My throat felt tight and air was so thin. I stopped doing the things that used to make me happy and I isolated myself from the people who loved me because they didn’t like who I was dating and told me to find someone else. I couldn’t. I wasn’t allowed to. The minute I ended it he would fall apart because I was the thing keeping him together. He needed me around for my sunshine when he had a lamp that worked perfectly fine, he just preferred that I be his light. I felt like a hypocrite for teaching him about optimism when it became impossible for me to remain positive. I was no longer resilient and things that were bad, felt bad. I lost my armor.
Perhaps it was the advice from my therapist, or my mother’s sleepless nights, or my friends’ genuine concern, or the prayers I said to angels, or maybe I had just finally had enough. Whatever the reason was it helped me decide to end it. It was brutal, excruciating, and torturous. I cried for days and forgot to eat which caused me to lose 6 pounds in under a week. He blamed me mercilessly, then turned the tables and insisted that it was all his fault but he was sorry and promised to do whatever it took to keep us together. If he had kept his promises that he made months ago I might have believed him.
We don’t talk much anymore and it’s strange to not be in constant communication with him all day. I’m not used to my schedule being so relatively open but I finally have time to clean my room and paint landscapes. I’ve decided to stop finding blame. If I had better communication with him maybe we could’ve worked things out, but then again he shouldn’t have been treating me poorly in the first place. The bottom line was that I was unhappy and postponed my own well being for far too long. I still have my ups and downs but the lows aren’t quite so crushing anymore. I’ll simply feel a sinking pain in my chest that subsides after a moment or two. Even with everything that’s happened I don’t regret being with him. I grew from an unpleasant experience but at least I grew. I’m not thinking about relationships right now. I just want to be a college student that finds extreme happiness in simplicity once again.
If you’re reading this please remember that you’re valued beyond belief and you deserve to be with someone that proves that to you each day. Love shouldn’t hurt.