Dating : Paint

h2>Dating : Paint

I spent a lot of time in my teenage years imagining the person I would fall in love with. I would picture long walks on the beach on a starry night, candlelit dinners and pillow talk until the sun came up. I wanted love so badly that the second I found anything that felt even remotely like what I had read in my books or seen in movies, I would latch on… no matter how many red flags I found. Normally, the person I had “fallen in love with” at the time would disappear before anything truly heartbreaking would happen. It was the same story every time: I would find someone that fit my idea of someone I could be with, I would be a little too interested, wear my heart on my sleeve and they would eventually get intimidated or annoyed and go away. This pattern continued until the day I met my first real love. Now, I don’t want you to misread what I’m about to tell you as a pity party. This is actually the exact opposite. I am writing this story down and sharing it publicly because I understand what it’s like to lose yourself, specifically on behalf of someone you love. I am writing this as a success story, so that someone going through something similar knows there could be a light at the end of the tunnel. I am here to tell you that YOU are the light at the end of the tunnel. The poem I wrote above is about the day I woke up from a nightmare, it was the day I found my own light, and I’m here to share all of my colors with you.

My first love was an addict in a lot of different ways. The most important being the literal definition of the term. When I first met him, it was at a juice bar that I worked for in a grocery store at the time. He was there for a job interview and had decided to get a smoothie on the way out. I had always read in books about that one “zing!” moment, you know… boy meets girl, they lock eyes and something just clicks. I nervously took his drink order and avoided eye contact as much as possible. When I handed him his receipt, he said: “thanks Whitney.” and I thought to myself “wow… he took the time to look at my name-tag so he could thank me by name… he MUST think I’m cute” and if I could roll my eyes any harder at past-me, they would roll out the back of my head. Feel free to roll your eyes with me, I know you want to. So he ended up getting the job, in the deli on the exact opposite side of the store and I would pass by him every day on my way to clock in, even though his department was clear on the other side of the store. I would take extra time getting ready so I could look at cute as one possibly could in a hair net, visor and stained uniform shirt that somehow always reeked of smoothie. One day, he had decided to take his lunch at the juice bar counter and I decided that was my opportunity to strike up a conversation. So I approached him and pretended to be wiping away some imaginary mess on the counter while I asked “so what do you do for fun?” and he said, pretty unenthusiastically I might add, “I don’t know, I play drums.” I thought this was perfect, my friends and I got together every Tuesday for “art night” we could include drums in that right? So I invited him over for art night and he politely said that he had prior commitments then proceeded to move to a table on the other side. I took the hint and decided not to approach him any further. I guess he wasn’t my prince charming after all. So a few months went by and I had signed up for Tinder, the popular dating app my friend had raved about. One night I was swiping away, and I came across his profile. Unsure of what to do, I stared at the screen for an unknown amount of time, until I finally worked up the nerve to swipe right (basically, I’m interested) and to my amazement, it was a match! I could barely contain my excitement when I received the first message from him: “hey there stranger, how are you?”. The rest begins as normal, we started talking every day, we would take our lunches together at work and finally we decided to go out on our first date. It was great, and in my opinion, magical. We went to an open mic night at a local pub, laughed and sang along, then at one point in the night, when everything had quieted down a bit, we decided to head to a coffee shop where we could talk more. As the clock ticked on, our discussions got deeper and deeper. Talking about our childhoods and past traumas. Finally, the truth came out. As 11:30pm rolled around, he said it was time for him to go. I made a passive joke about him being Cinderella, disappearing just as the clock strikes 12, and he took that as his cue to reveal his truth. He told me that he had a curfew because he was staying at a rehab to recover from his recent tangle with heroine. He told me that he had been homeless just a few months before and was working hard to follow the program and stay clean. Now, I know what you’re thinking: RUN! But… just like many other girls in this predicament, I thought I could fix him. I immediately hugged him, the tightest most compassionate hug I could dig up, and thanked him for being honest with me. Of course, I knew somewhere deep down that he was trouble. But I thought I could be his hero, his reason for getting better. And I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Fast forward to about 2 months in, everything had been normal…well, as close to normal as it gets with someone like him. We met during his free hours, had lunch together at work, texted each other good morning and good night every day. Finally, he was able to get out of the rehab and into a place of his own. He had moved in with his brother a few minutes away from where I lived and I could see him whenever I wanted. It was perfect. But after a couple of weeks, something changed. He stopped coming by the juice bar on his way to clock in every day. He stopped texting me, he basically stopped acknowledging my existence. I wasn’t going to have that. So one day I went up to him on one of his breaks and offered to bring some dinner and a movie over, I wanted to talk to him, see what was up. He agreed and I went home that night and made pasta and picked out a movie that we would both enjoy. When I got there he answered the door awkwardly and gave me a one armed hug. I thought this was strange, especially since we had already had numerous make out sessions, why was he being so stiff? We ate our dinner in semi-silence and after he wanted to smoke a cigarette. I accompanied him and we sat in the silence as he inhaled and exhaled nervously. I wasn’t sure I wanted to know, but I finally summoned the courage to ask him what was wrong. He went on to explain that he had relapsed, he had a run in with an old friend he used to run around with and they had offered him a small amount of heroine and he gave in and had been hooked once again ever since. At that point, I didn’t know what to do. All I knew was I wanted him to get better. I cared about him, and I didn’t believe in abandoning people in their time of need. However, I didn’t want to invade his space, so I gave him time to heal and get the help he needed. We still saw each other on a regular basis and took breaks together at work. About a month later he invited me over for dinner and I finally felt like things were going to work out. He may not have been the prince charming I expected, but he liked me and made me laugh… and he had this mystery about him I thought, like a character out of one of my books. A tormented, misunderstood protagonist.

He eventually moved in with me and my family and things were going great. We went on hikes and camping trips and everything felt normal. Then, he started acting strange again. He was coming home later, waking up in the middle of the night for a cigarette, he wasn’t eating normally…something didn’t feel right. One morning, I woke up and rolled over for a morning snuggle, and he just kind of stiffened up. Alarmed,I lifted my head up and met his eyes. When I did I saw tears welling up in them. I quickly sat up to face him and urgently asked him what was wrong. He sat silent for a few moments, then told me that he had relapsed, once again, and this time asked for help. I wanted to be his hero, so I got to work. He told his mom and she stepped in to help him get the medicine he needed. The hard part was, I didn’t want news of it reaching my parents. They knew he had struggled with it in the past, but they didn’t know it was still a problem, and if they found out, it would all be over. I will tell you right now, if things had gone down that way, I would have been saved a lot of heartbreak…but I still had lessons to learn. I started doing my own research. I went to meetings for friends and families suffering from a loved one’s addiction and I stayed strong for him. I drove him to NA meetings, held him at night while he was sweating and shivering from withdrawals, stroked his hair as he vomited everything he ate and covered for him when he needed to call off work or when my parents asked why he wasn’t at the dinner table. Love is about sacrifice right?

Fast forward about two and a half years, one engagement ring and some good memories later. It’s 5am and I’m sitting up in bed waiting for him to come home. I had fallen asleep with my phone in my hand after calling him numerous times to no avail. He had gotten off work at 9pm and said he was going out with a couple of friends, something I never had a problem with, I believe strong relationships are built on trust, after all. But this had crossed a line. I couldn’t decide if I was more angry or worried. Finally, around 6am, he came strolling into the bedroom, still in his work uniform and stinking of cigarettes and alcohol. He plopped on the bed without saying a word, rolled over and went to sleep. I didn’t have the energy to confront him at that moment, so I laid down as far onto my side of the bed as I could and went back to sleep. When I woke up, he was already out of the bed and getting ready to go to work. We said very little to each other as we went about our morning routine and he left for the day, without saying goodbye. I didn’t want to fight, and I didn’t want to face the fact that he could have relapsed after all this time. He had done so well, made so much progress… we were finally having some fun, I didn’t want it to end. Once he got home from work that night he came in and changed into something more comfortable, then went outside for a cigarette. I followed him, taking a deep breath and preparing for the worst. Once I sat down next to him, the air became tangibly tense. I looked at him, willing him to make eye contact with me and let me back in. Finally he said “what?”. I was in a state of disbelief. We hadn’t had a conversation in about two days and this is how he wanted to start it? Deciding not to waste any more time, I just went right ahead and asked him “what’s going on with you? why didn’t you come home last night?” He took a long pause, and I suppose deciding to also not waste any more time, told me that he was with another girl. He had cheated.

My mind was reeling. I couldn’t breathe. This was literally my worst fear coming to fruition. Unable to look at him, I stood up without speaking a word, went inside, got my car keys and decided to go for a drive. On my way out he attempted to pull me back to him, to offer some sort of explanation, but all I could see was his lips pressed against the lips of some other girl, I could swear I could even smell her perfume now, permeating through the overbearing smell of smoke. I ripped myself away from him, and drove off. I couldn’t even cry. I didn’t know how I felt. Was I relieved to know the truth? Was that really the truth? Or did he just not want to tell me he’d relapsed after all that time? What did she have that I didn’t? Who was she? Where in the hell did she come from? What did I want to do now? On my way home, I stopped at a spot just a couple blocks from my house to gather my thoughts. I can’t tell you why ladies and gentleman… but I just still couldn’t give up. I loved him and I just wasn’t ready to let someone take that away from me. Not like this. So I drove back. He was still sitting on the porch, looking solemn but hopeful upon seeing my arrival. I walked up the pathway to the porch with my arms crossed. Suddenly feeling insecure. I had become suddenly aware of all of my flaws. I sat down next to him and the conversation we had next ended with him apologizing profusely and begging for a second chance. Girls and boys, if you are ever in this situation, be careful. It’s okay to forgive someone and still banish them from your life. You deserve better. I didn’t realize that at the time, so I decided to forgive him.

The next week was spent forcing laughter and overcompensating for the damage that had been done. He tried harder than ever before to make me smile. But when he held me or kissed me, all I could think about was his hand in hers, or his eyes searching her body. Every time he touched me, I felt sick. Of course, I didn’t let on to that. I figured these feelings would pass, so I faked every smile and kissed him back as best as I could. Then one night, precisely a week later, and the night before my birthday no less, I woke in the middle of the night to find that he still hadn’t returned home. Panic rose in me and I desperately went searching around the house for him, in hopes that maybe he was outside for a cigarette, or using the restroom, but he was nowhere to be found. I was in denial, I thought there was no way he would have gone to her again, he must be in some sort of trouble. So in my panicked state I called his mother, who had helped me many times with his addiction, in hopes she might know where he was. He had called her a few days before to confess his unfaithfulness, and she asked me if he had said anything to me the night before about going out. I told her that he didn’t and she asked me if I knew who the girl was that he had cheated with. I told her I knew her name but that was all. The second I said the name, she let out a long sigh and sent me a street address. She said to go there and let her know if I saw his car there. So I drove at 6am to the mystery address his mom had sent me. It shouldn’t have surprised me, but I saw his car in the driveway and I felt like my stomach was trying to crawl it’s way through my throat. I called his mom again and she just apologized and informed me that this was the same girl’s house from a week ago. She knew for sure because this happened to be an ex-girlfriend of his and she had driven him there numerous times.

Again, I couldn’t even cry at first. I was just shocked and I felt like I was in a very bad nightmare. I went home, sat in my bed and stared out the window for what felt like hours until I finally heard the front door and his footsteps toward the room. When he came in, I think he could sense trouble. He slowly made his way into the room and sat on the bed beside me. He attempted to wrap his arm around me and I threw it off of me, unsure of whether I wanted to cry or punch him. He apologized and told me that he had drank too much and stayed at his friend’s house. All I could do was look at him with utter disbelief. It was like I was seeing him for the first time. All that he had put me through already and it was like something just snapped in me. I just looked at him square in the eye and told him he needed to leave. Some of the hardest words I had ever said to someone I loved.

So he quickly packed his things and left, taking my heart and three years of my life with him. I never thought I would make it through the pain I felt. I felt like I was going through withdrawals. Like I had just spent the last three years on a high and I was just now coming down. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep, I didn’t want to do anything at all. I was a mess. It wasn’t until a few weeks later I finally decided it was time to sleep in my own bed, since I had been sleeping on the couch to avoid being haunted by memories of him in our room… well, my room. For a couple months after that, he and I remained in contact. I tried to play it cool and act like I was better off without him. In reality I felt completely lost.

I felt like I was sleep walking. Putting on my best face for work, friends, and family but feeling broken and alone on the inside. It wasn’t until I came across a poem, that I finally woke up once again. The poem spoke of loneliness and how it can be beautiful, and how you are actually never alone at all as long as you have yourself. Something in it just spoke to me and I am thankful for it to this day for helping to bring me back to life. I thought about the words over and over again as I would fall asleep. I put a smile on my face every day when I opened my eyes, even if I had to fake it. At first, it was painful. Like stitching it on with needle and thread. But day by day it got better. Eventually, the smile was real.

The point is, and I know everyone says this… but hear me out, you need to love yourself FIRST. I never took the time to do that. I didn’t know how to spare any love for me, I only knew how to give it away. It’s been a year and a couple of months now since the break up, and I’m not perfect. I still spend time reflecting on the love I had for him and wondering why it wasn’t enough to keep him around. But the thing is, it was enough. It was like pouring water into a cup with no bottom. I kept pouring and pouring, wondering where it all went, completely unaware that the gaping hole at the bottom meant his cup would always be empty. I poured until my cup was empty, and I didn’t have any left for myself. So now, I was stuck feeling empty and broken with nothing to give myself but negative thoughts and emotions. I spent days locked up in my room, distracting myself with chocolates, video games and movies. Filling the void any way I could. I was desperate for friends, company, distractions. Until the day I read the poem that woke me up. It’s such a simple thing really, just a few words on a random website I stumbled upon. I couldn’t even find the poem now if I tried. But after reading it, I remembered that I loved to write. I remembered that I loved to read, to think, to create. It felt like that moment when you are laying in bed, somewhere between dreamland and Earth and you feel like you fall back into yourself, waking with a jolt. I sat down in my room that night and turned off the TV, silenced my phone, lit a candle and I wrote the poem that you read at the beginning. As I wrote, I could feel the cuts from every moment you read in my story get smaller, the sting less painful. I had come home to myself.

So, if there is anything I would hope you’d take from reading this, it’s that it’s okay to lose yourself. We all do at one point or another. Just try to remember, when your cup feels empty, that you need to return home to yourself. Give yourself the love that you so freely give to others. Take yourself on dates,find your passion and chase it like the ground behind you is on fire. Spend time alone in quiet reflection. Be present. Don’t shy away from your emotions, even the bad ones. Accept each emotion as it passes by and just live in the moment. And finally, realize that your value does not lay in how others react to the love you give. Keep giving your love fully and completely, because in the end the world needs more of it. Just remember to save some for yourself too.

As a side note, this is my very first blog entry. I want to thank everyone for taking the time to read it and for helping me on the next step in my journey to healing. I can’t wait to explore more topics and share more of my colors with you!

Read also  Dating : Have you ever lived it?

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