The first time I ever really liked a boy was when I was 15.
He and I were family friends. We went on fishing trips together, and knew each other since I was 9 and he was 10.
At 9 and 10, we didn’t know anything about love. Just fun and games.
We connected really well, and always had fun together. We stuck together like glue, constantly around each other from day to night, at least during those fishing trips.
We didn’t meet again till I was 15 and he was 16.
This time, we saw each other differently. This time, we weren’t kids anymore.
The first time we kissed, was when we had all fallen asleep on the same bed after playing card games.
In the middle of the night, he rolled over towards me and I happened to face him too.
Barely awake, I felt him kiss me and our emotions took over. He had a girlfriend then, but I didn’t care.
Later on, he would reject me. Telling me that he didn’t want to break up with his girlfriend because he felt that she was more compatible for him. He loved her – he said. I asked “Then why kiss me?”
He never answered.
It happened again a few months later. This time, so stupidly romantic, under a sky full of stars and in the middle of the ocean, where we could hear only the waves and a light breeze.
Stupidly after, I felt like a fool. Again, he made it known that he was choosing her over me. Again, I felt like I wasn’t good enough for him. Again, i felt completely used.
I never got over those feelings. Those memories stayed and haunted me for years to come. Every time i bumped into him during funerals or coincidentally on the street, he would avoid me. Unable to even look into my eyes.
He’s married now, to that same girlfriend and they have a child together. He probably never ever thought of me again. And I wonder if he ever knew how hurt I was. I wonder if he ever knew how much impact his actions made on my life. But of course, how could he? He was 16.
Later on in life, I would go on to date jerk after jerk, cheater after cheater. Boys who displayed the same emotional unavailability. It almost felt like my heart sought them out, so it could be broken over and over again.
I dated some good ones too, and then didn’t know how to love them and ended up breaking their hearts. I cheated too.
I remember one particular boyfriend I had – who went completely ballistic after I tried to break up with him. We were 21, and I was in the US doing a summer job. I was young, in the US and in a long distance relationship that I didn’t really want. I tried breaking up with him but instead, he came to the US to try and patch things up. He demanded that i concede to his demands and requests. He later on hacked into my emails, tried to blackmail me and also extorted money from my mum. He spread all sorts of crazy rumors about me and basically traumatized me for months. Once, he even found me in school and pretended nothing had happened – asking me for a hug hello.
I thought he was the worst guy I would ever date. I thought wrong. Clearly, I hadn’t learnt my mistake. Because I married the biggest jerk of them all.
I have however, been someone else’s jerk too before.
One time I dated the sweetest guy. I kinda knew I didn’t love him the same way he loved me. But I liked the attention and it was too good to resist. I was young, and he was giving me everything he had. Even after finding out that I cheated on me, he forgave me very quickly and wanted us to work things out. It was only after that I told him I didn’t love him the same way. I had taken the easy way out – to just ruin things before they properly end. I too, once was a coward.
Even with my marriage, there were so many things I could have done better. I think deep down, a part of me wasn’t ready to be married. I remember having that sinking feeling of making a mistake. I even woke up on my wedding day crying, worried that I was making a wrong move. Back then – I cared too much about how other people thought. Back then, I was too blind to realize I wasn’t living a happy life, and I wasn’t living life the way I wanted to. Should I have been more honest with myself, we would have never gotten married so soon. And maybe we could have had a better parting that we did. It’s not that I didn’t love Dom. I remember loving him so much I would have given up just about anything.
But I married him for all the wrong reasons, none of the right ones. We were so incompatible……but I thought love could fix all of that.
I married him, subconsciously thinking his “love” for me would fix my past abandonment hurt. I believed his lies for so long – because I clung on to the hope that he was not like the many who had just wanted something from me, but never willing to give more than they took. I wanted so badly, for him to finally be the one, who would choose me instead of someone else.
I wanted him to be the one, who would never let me go.
And that is why, I married him for the wrong reasons. I went into a marriage, wanting my past hurts to be fixed, longing for someone to just choose me always. I thought that by standing in front of witnesses, it would finally convince me that I’m worthy of love. I was so foolish. I was so naive. But now, the pain has made me learn so much.
The should haves, could haves, would haves in life are far too many.
But it made me think.
When do we realize that our self worth doesn’t depend on someone else’s love? What does it take – for us to realize that love has to come from within?
I wonder, if there was a time in my life, that I could look back upon and realize all of my toxic relationships happened mostly because of that feeling of abandonment. Could I have learned of this fact sooner?
Whose fault is it?
In which part of the vicious cycle are we stuck in?
What role do we play?
Are we the first person to make someone else feel abandoned, used and unappreciated?
Are we the asshole who can sniff out a desperate heart, and selfish enough to take advantage of them?
Or are we the victim who is just constantly shuffling between toxic and more toxic people?
When do we stop and put a band-aid on a wound before letting it rip apart again?
I think that all of us, no matter which role we’re playing now, can wake up and stop lying to ourselves.
It might be hard at first, admitting that we’re not in love with the person we’re with. It might be even harder if there are children involved. It’s always tricky.
But if we do realize and are self aware that we’re hurting people around us, then I hope we also recognize that love is a choice.
We might have fallen in love with our partners years ago, and have since forgotten how that felt like.
We might have fallen in love with someone, who later on changed to become someone else. We have a choice to leave or to stay.
We might be emotionally mistreating our children or our parents, holding grudges against them, for things they hold no fault for, except for just existing. Many of us are unaware of how much our parents’ actions affect us and how much our actions impact our children.
It’s a vicious cycle. Pain breeds more pain. Hurt people hurt others.
When does it stop?
When do we make that decision to break that cycle?
What must happen, before we hit rock bottom and it’s all too late?
It’s cliché, but I feel that the power of love can always overcome the power of revenge. Revenge can only ease our pain temporarily, but never really fill us up with happiness.
I’ve heard people say: The best form of revenge is to lead a happy life.
I say no to that. Don’t pursue a seemingly happy life just to rub it in the noses of your perpetrators If you’re in despair, BE in despair.
Don’t pretend like you’re okay when you’re not. Ignore everyone else, and do things for you. Take care of you first. If you’re in pain, you have to treat that wound. Don’t even think about anything else first.
We may not realize we’re doing things out of rage, we may not understand what we’ve done in the name of vengeance. But I do feel that everyone deserves to feel heard. Everyone deserves to let their pain be known.
Love however, might sometimes mean putting yourself first. Loving yourself first. If we don’t know how to love ourselves, how can we love someone else? Loving ourselves can come in so many ways and forms, but the intention you set must be clear.
It starts by being honest with yourself. “How do you feel today?”
I wish I had been more honest with myself, but then again, my pain makes me who I am today.
My experiences in life will continue to grow me as a person.
The best thing my pain gave me was self-awareness. It also taught me how to love myself. I have so much more love for myself now, that it’s much easier to love others around me. It’s much easier to catch myself having bad thoughts of others and correcting myself. It’s much easier to forgive and empathize, and remind myself that everyone is just carrying their own trauma around.
I’ve learned so much about myself and I’m only learning more.
My ‘bottom’ was thankfully, just a divorce without any children involved.
But there could have easily been a child.
For those of us, who now realize we’re stuck in this cycle, contributing to the pain of someone else, or being the recipient of toxicity and abuse –
What will your rock bottom be? Before you pull yourself out? When does it become too late?