EDITORS NOTE: This is a little journey for me as a writer, as a woman. This is the most raw I’ve ever written and it’s a little nerve-wrecking and yet there’s a strong need to get this story out…my story. It’s being put out there in a short series. All comments are welcome, but please always keep them respectful.
It happens every year, without fail. The holidays come around and those same old feelings come back. She could practically set her watch to their return. Most people might not be able to relate to her near need of a New Year’s kiss but that’s about what it had become. New Year’s Eve 2016 was her 19th to go without a kiss and while many think of it as overrated or not that important, it is to her. While it shouldn’t be a measure of validation, it had become just that to her. Oh, what it must feel like to just once have someone who wanted to share a special moment with her, she thought. It must be nice to have that someone ring in the new year and have many more special moments to look forward to but yet again, that was not to be. As it is every year. Soon, Valentine’s Day would follow – another holiday designed to remind her of how alone she really is and began to feel like she would always be.
Instead of having someone special to share the evening with, she spent it with her little dog, Chalupa. She spent it thinking. Thinking…one of the most important, potent and at times, dangerous things for her to do but there she was…thinking. While her old friend, negative self-talk, had no problem being by her side that night, some logic, some reasoning, some positive self-reflection also showed up for the party. Thank God. Maybe some sense could be made of all those feelings.
Thinking took her to the past, a past she thought she’d made peace with but suddenly she realized she hadn’t. She mistook time passing by for resolution. Time does heal, as the saying goes, but some effort must be put in to go with it. This hit her like a ton of bricks. Every time she said ‘yes’ to someone new and it didn’t work out, it only worked to scrape off the start of the scabbing and reopened the wound. This, coupled with the holidays, prompted the new round of the emotional overdose. The bright side is there seemed to be perhaps a proverbial light to the end of the tunnel. She would need to face those hurts once and for all, learn to genuinely forgive them and more importantly, herself. She realized she’s never actually taken that step. In the past, when talking about forgiveness, she always told her friends she was in favor of forgiveness but couldn’t really put her finger on how to forgive. This suddenly became important because if she’s to do any forgiving, especially of herself, she’ll need to know how.
She went through each of her failed “relationships” and really saw them for what they were and their impact individually and as part of the big picture. The pain was nearly overwhelming but necessary and mostly, enlightening. There were moments when the process was threatened to be upended because Negative Nelly would stop in now and again…reminding her that she almost never dated because she was virtually ignored by men, even in college, even when she was thinner, younger, probably prettier. How would she ever move on now at the ripe old age of 35 with gray hair, crows feet at the corners of her eyes and worry lines on her forehead. She couldn’t get a guy to buy her a drink or to dance with her or even to smile at her for that matter. They always preferred to pursue her friends instead…this must be why so many of them are married, in long term relationships and/or have kids while she is stuck in neutral. At that moment, crepuscular rays of reason shone through, shedding enough light to remind her to keep mulling through it all, to remember that none of that was about her, no matter how much it felt like it was, it simply was not true.
It started with well naturally, the beginning. She thought about the first guy she cared about, “Cal.” A guy she met by working at Wendy’s. How she wished she’d never allowed him into her heart. In retrospect, she probably never was in love with him but certainly she was infatuated. He was the one who started it all. It’s true, she already was prone to wishing too hard because guys never paid attention to her so when he did, she was over the moon with excitement and hope. A pattern that would follow her. She was 16 when she met Cal. The friendship would last years but it was really more like torment for her.
It started with a simple little kiss after dinner one night. The next day began the start of hell. She found out through a mutual friend, Cal already had a girlfriend. Being inexperienced, she was hurt and confused and without a clue of how to handle the situation. She thought she addressed it, but the manipulation, lying, using would go on for a long time. He was her first kiss, her first infatuation. She’d later regret having to say she gave up her most precious commodity to him also. At the time, she was 18, nearly 19. She slept with him three times that year – the first two times he’d vanish before finally reappearing and saying he only wanted to be friends. The final time, for some reason, she fell for his lying words again and slept with him a final time. It seemed odd to her that he would pause kissing her to tell her he wasn’t using her, and while she remembered thinking it was a big red flag, she ignored it for some reason. After all was said and done, he didn’t wait to tell her it would only be friendship. The television was on and he watched the hockey game and told her he only wanted to be friends. He never even made eye contact as she burst into tears. He barely apologized.
He tried to sleep with her a fourth time but even as naive as she had been, she’d finally learned her lesson. She stopped him and it was to her benefit. A week had passed when she finally talked to Cal again. This time he said he was certain they should only be friends. While she’d already been hurt by him, some part of her still hoped for something, but this call was the final one. She said to him in desperation, “but you said you loved me.” His response: “If I only said it once, I didn’t mean it.” How those words still haunt her. They still sting like it happened yesterday. How could he be so cruel?
He continued to want to be friends with her. As far as she could tell, only so he could meet her friends and try and date them. He did date one of her closest friends for a short time, but his true colors were revealed to the friend also. Creep. He flirted with others, even in front of her. It was unbelievable how uncouth he could be. He never really apologized and all he ever really wanted to do was act like nothing had happened; that he never used her or broke her heart repeatedly. He wanted to sweep it under the rug like it meant nothing, like she meant nothing. It was a very slow process, but eventually, she did cut him loose once and for all. It’s very likely he doesn’t understand why.
That was only the beginning. She thought she’d learned so much from him that there was no way she’d ever have those problems again. If only she’d had a crystal ball that could have told her of the pain that was coming.