I still remember my puppy loves; and if I didn’t, my mother and brother would gladly remind me. I remember in 8th grade talking that “I love him” talk. I wasn’t “allowed” to date until 16, but as long as my parents didn’t see us walking home from school together, and I picked up on the ½ ring before my parents when he called the house, they would never know (Life before cell phones). 15 years later, its turns out, they knew (Parents always know). That “relationship” ended when I saw him let another girl wear his jacket during recess, because “she was cold”. #Young&Dumb
I remember standing at my locker, day dreaming looking at a picture saying “I’m going to marry that man”. Mind you, I was a sophomore in high school talking about marrying this boy that I was secretly dating (because I wasn’t 16 yet). We talked on the phone every night, and saw each other as much as we could; being that we didn’t go to the same school of lived in the same town. Our families were friends, so my parents didn’t question when we would go to the park to “play basketball” and when I would go over to visit. That “relationship” ended when my father turned my phone off. He tried calling me, I didn’t answer the phone, he took it personal, and we went our separate ways. #Misunderstanding
My two best friends were dating cousins, and rather than me being a 5th wheel they decided to hook me up with one of their boyfriend’s friends. I was a senior in high school: president of my senior class, student council, a student representative for the Board of Education, Miss Goody Two-Shoes, and he was considered the local “thug”… But I loved him. I was called in for meeting by my Assistant Principal and coaches tell me to break up with him; not to mention my parents didn’t care for him, but that made me “love” him even more. It was me and him against the world. The college I chose to attend was based on the distance I would be from him. Our relationship lasted a year and a day: He stood me up on our anniversary, and then the next day when he came to pick me up he broke up with me. #NoWords
My mother told me never to date anyone where you work or where you live, because if it goes bad, you have to continue to see him. Of course I didn’t listen. I secretly dated someone from work. The thrill was in the fact that no one knew. Flirty eyes, playful conversation, and texting each other inappropriate text while at work; it was the best. We dated my junior and senior year of college. He wasn’t in school, but he supported me in my pursuit; if I had to stay up and write a paper, he had to stay up too. And just as I did with my high school sweetheart, I planned my life after college around being with him. To my surprise, he broke up with me 2 months after I graduated. #Blindsided
After many tears and bottles of wine, I came across a guy from college. We began dating, and after a year went our separate ways. I wanted more, and he couldn’t give me that. I dated someone else for 2 years, but then we ended up together again. We dated other people for a few months, but then we ended up together again. When we got back together this THIRD time, he convinced me that he had changed, and was ready to make things happen between us. He started planning our future together. Making plans to travel, move in together, or move away together to start fresh. After being off and on for 5 years, I believed him and was beginning to look forward to a fresh start. Then one day I go on Facebook and discover that he’s engaged to be married to someone else. #Crushed
I write all of this not to air out my past, but to learn from it. I noticed a pattern to which I allowed the “man for the moment” to manipulate the decisions that I made for my future. I think back at the opportunities I’ve passed up and the men I’ve overlooked in order to be all I could be to those who were not willing to be all they could be to me. I don’t look back and hold ill feeling towards any of these men (ok, maybe one), but I look back at the lesson that I learned. I realize how much stronger I am because of these experiences and rather than being bitter and hateful towards the next; my heart is still open. I do not blame myself for the death of these relationships, but I can see the part that I played in it. I was not the strong confident person that I tell others to be. I didn’t stand by the values that I believed in. I lost myself in order to be who he and he, and he, and he, and he wanted me to be. For each person, I was a new person. I was different versions of me, but I was not the ME that I wanted to be.
I realize that anyone of use could be the “I” in this story. My stories may be specific to my situations, but I know that I don’t stand alone. I stand confidently telling my story; because it is my story. It does not define me, but it is a part of me.
I dare you to tell your story.
-Guest Blogger: Shené V. Owens