“The heart has its reasons which reason knows not of” ~ Blaise Pascal
I was barely fifteen years old, sitting outside secretly smoking cigarettes at my uncles house, just lying back with my cousins on the roof and looking out at the vast, beautiful summer sky. A virgin in all senses of the word, I had yet to even kiss a guy at that point, but as I stared into the sky that night, a peace came over me and I suddenly looked up with a smile and said, “I think I want a boyfriend. My first serious boyfriend.”
Given that, I simply thought it was destiny when less than a week later, at the start of my sophomore year, Anthony (*names changes) caught my eye. We would smile as we passed each other in the halls and he would always come linger next to my desk before the start of class. The first Friday of the school year, at the football game, me, my best friend, him and his best friend, all left the game to go to the movies- he had been asking me non-stop. Shortly into the movie which was, of course, a horror movie, he kissed the side of my face and whispered, “Will you be my girlfriend.” And just like that, one of the most powerful relationships of my life began.
It was like a fire from the moment we connected- an intricate, deep connection that even to this day I cannot quite describe. When we laughed, we were hysterical; when we cried, we were devastated; when we fought, it was destructive. Like a fire, we were warm and comforting, but the knowledge that at any moment we could extinguish or explode out of control loomed over the relationship.
We fell in love rather quickly- after a month and a half, we said “I love you” and by three months, I was no longer a virgin in any sense of the word. I practically lived with him, and soon I began to notice things I didn’t like about him.
You know how they say that you’ll know how he’ll treat you by the way he treats his mama? Anthony did not treat his mother well. He would have frequent outbursts, screaming over the stupidest things like a cell phone or what was for dinner. Sometimes he would throw things and yell. Soon, he became possessive of me, demanding all of my time. I began to lose my cousins, my best friends, and the girls that had once been like sisters to me began despising me. I chose him over everything. I would have done anything for him. I loved him more than I ever thought it was possible to love someone.
After six months of dating, his emotional and sometimes verbal abuse became violent. During little fight about an outfit I was wearing that was “inappropriate,” he grabbed me and threw me against the wall and I fell to the ground and fractured my wrist. I lied, of course. To everyone.
I was such a klutz, everyone believed that I had just fallen down when trying to roller blade. He cried and cried and cried and told me he was sorry and to please forgive him. And I did. I forgave him every time he got violent with me, even after the police were called on one occasion because the neighbors heard me screaming. I loved him. I didn’t know what to do.
Not too long after, however, his family began to notice things. His family was like my family. His MaMaw loved me, his parents loved me, his aunts and uncles and cousins…they all loved me. But even they would notice bruises that looked much too much like hand prints. I would cover them up and lie. I knew he loved me and I just told myself that sometimes he got so angry because of his love for me, and that if I only listened to him, we could be together forever.
About eleven months into the relationship, we went to the beach with his family for vacation. It was wonderful and happy, and I loved just laying with him in the sand. Everything was fine, until his five year old cousin started hitting on me. Everyone thought it was funny, everyone except Anthony. He would get annoyed with me and push me away, and as I reached over to grab him and kiss him, he threw me against the wall and spit on me.
Now, so far I make it sound like he was all bad. But he wasn’t, and that I swear to you. Once, in the winter when my family was going through a hard time, he bought me tennis shoes and hid them in his car all wrapped up; he would always draw me baths and light candles and sing to me; he wrote me poems and letters; he once bought a necklace one night after we had been arguing and hid it in my purse while i wasn’t looking so I would find it as a surprise. He did some very, very nice things for me. But he also did some very, very mean things.
After that week on the beach, I knew in my heart that it could no longer work. My mother and father had always fought a lot and it really did take a toll on my family. I knew that I could never do that to my children and I that I needed to end this.
It was the hardest thing I have ever had to do in my life. I felt like my heart had burst apart and I was simply an empty shell walking around. I couldn’t eat, or sleep, and my life felt like it had ended. I would call him from a blocked number only to hang up when he answered. I would wake up in the middle of the night to walk into my bathroom and simply lie on the floor and silently scream as endless tears poured down my face. I never thought I could see us apart. We were one, like soulmates. And now it was over.
It took me months, six to be exact, to get over the year-long relationship. Even now, I think about him almost everyday. But not in a “I want to be with him” way, but more of a peaceful, solemn way. I don’t regret the relationship. It taught me so many things. It taught me that love does exist but that love is not a fairytale and that it requires sacrifice and work; it taught me what I do not deserve and now I will not demand anything less than that.
There are so many things he taught me that I cannot even put into words. I heard that he’s taking anger management classes now, and I truly hope he finds happiness, as I have. I have found myself through this journey, have discovered what I do and don’t deserve. I write to you a much stronger woman, a woman who has learned not to depend on a man. Be with a man you want, not a man you need.
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