I noticed a little girl at the grocery store the other day. She caught my attention immediately. Wearing a tiny green jacket and bright purple pants, she was skipping between the lines of the parking spaces in the lot outside of the store. Watching her brought me back to the days of innocence - to my first love - and away from the lines at the checkout.
I was engaged once, a couple of years ago, to a man I thought was everything. We will call this man Jack. He and I dated for three years. Jack was a burly tough guy from Vermont. He would recall his days of running from cops in the woods and holding huge parties when his parents went away. He was not the nicest of guys, but he had his way with the ladies. He knew just what to say, when to say it, and he did this exceptionally well with me.
The first time I met Jack, I was sitting on a stone wall at my old university, smoking a cigarette. It was orientation, and I was a freshman. He came up to me and began the conversation that started my life with him. From that moment on, we never left each others’ side. I would spend my days sitting in his room watching movies, or listening to him play his favorite Insane Clown Posse song. We were inseparable in school, on vacations and during the summers. We were the bad kids. We would go grab a little love on the football field or in the closet of the music room while our peers were in classes.
Yet as time progressed, I realized Jack and I had several differences I had not noticed before. He was very demanding and would get angry if I did not tell him where I was at any moment in time. If I was going out with my girlfriends, he assumed I was cheating on him. Slowly, I was not allowed to see my friends, go on vacation, or talk to anyone he did not know. It was quite a consuming relationship. Eventually, I lost myself in his life.
We broke up when I realized that our relationship was wrong. It was not healthy and was very childish. Instead of focusing on myself, I got so caught up with the situation that I lost track of who I was. Looking back now I realize that this relationship affected me in ways I am not able to express, still to this day. It changed everything I knew about myself. I am still afraid of relationships, and I am continuously apologizing for miniscule things. In addition, my relationship with Jack showed me how important it is to be honest with yourself and your significant other.
The reason I mention Jack now and not in a previous column is that it is difficult for me to remember my relationship with him. Although I still think about him often, it is hard to verbalize how loving someone can change everything about you. Sometimes we love so much that we often forget to love ourselves in the process. We become consumed with making the other happy that we forget our own happiness.
Being hurt in a relationship takes something out of you. I have spent many nights thinking back to the days of our relationship, and no matter how hard I think about it, only the good times come into my mind. They stand out far beyond the bad. Maybe that is why so many people do not know about Jack. Maybe I have been fooling myself into thinking that our relationship failed because I could not make things right.
Seeing the little girl in the parking lot took me back to the days of Jack - to the times when I thought that everything revolved around us, much like the na?vete of youth. As the little girl spun around, so did the thoughts in my mind, tracing back to the times when I would have spent the rest of my life with another. My life continues to spin, and so does Jack’s, I presume. Yet where does that leave me? Lost, confused, and still searching for an answer.