I met Michael when I was 16 years old. I had never had a boyfriend before, and was quite frankly more used to the boys picking on me than being interested in me. But he was, and I was immediately interested in him as well. We started dating, but only saw each other once or twice a week at our local robotics meetings or Friday nights when his parents would bring him to my house and my mom would drive him home. We talked all the time on the computer, and for about six months it was a very idealistic relationship. Or so I though…
And then everything went wrong. We had sex for the first time, but I quickly decided that I was not ready for the possibility of getting pregnant (because accidents DO happen) and I put a stop to it. Michael on the other hand seemed to me to be ALL ABOUT SEX. He got upset with me at times because I wouldn’t do it (and in his defense in this area, I did flip-flop back and forth several times), and we started fighting about pretty much everything. Throw his ex trying to get him back into the mix and life was stressful almost 24/7. Truthfully this should have been my sign to get out…but I was already in too deep. I had a very “can’t live without him” mentality about Michael, and so I stayed.
That’s the first time he cheated on me. With a girl named Amanda whose brother was on his cross country team. He called me up one night after school before robotics and told me he needed to talk to me. I wouldn’t let him drop it on the phone, so he confessed then and there rather than in person later that night at robotics.
I flipped shit. Truthfully, I had all the right reactions. I was horrified and heartbroken. I told him I never wanted to speak to him again and hung up on him. I didn’t go to robotics that night because the last thing I wanted to do was see his face. I made all the right choices that night, and yet I was unable to stick with them. Within a month, Michael and I were back together and back to somewhat normal (despite the fact that we still fought constantly).
Almost a year went by after the incident, with us going through periods of fighting and then not fighting and then fighting again. Then unexpectedly before a robotics competition, Michael was suspended from school. He told me it was for not taking in excuses for days that he’d missed. I took his word for it, but something in my gut didn’t feel right. Soon after the competition I began hearing rumors that Mike had been caught at school with a girl and that’s what he got in trouble for. When his best friend James let it slip about some things he’d seen, I was all but sure that the rumors were true.
So I confronted Michael about it. He became extremely upset over my accusation and we fought for weeks on the subject; him always defending his innocence. Eventually I let it go, telling myself that he wouldn’t fight me so hard about it if the rumors were true. I started beating myself up over doubting him, despite the fact that he’d given me an extremely good reason to be untrusting. I loved him, and wanted so badly to believe that he’d changed, so I forced myself to believe him, despite what my gut was telling me.
From that point on, the sick feeling in my stomach became a constant companion every time I felt like I was being lied to or wasn’t being told the whole story. Many times it was my mind overanalyzing things and getting caught up in “what ifs.” It didn’t help that I caught Mike in several smaller lies during this time period.
Hence, I became the snooper. Nothing was safe from my eyes….his phone, email, AIM conversations, etc. I looked at everything, and was extremely skilled at catching him in his lies without him ever suspecting that I’d gone through his personal things.This continued on through most of college, through our break-ups and getting back together.
Until one night during our Junior year. We got into an argument and something popped into my head and I ran with it. That horrible feeling in my gut came back and I demanded that he tell me why he got suspended from school. And that night the truth came out. All of the rumors were true. He’d been caught fooling around with a girl named Tina in his high school.
I lost my shit again. I’d spent almost 3 years beating myself up for not trusting him about the topic. I spent so many nights fighting my mind as it was telling me I’d been lied to. I’d given up so much of myself to try and fix this perceived problem with my personality…and it was all for nothing because in the end I was right.
This breakup was the worst of them all. Cops were involved at one point because I did not want him near me, talking to me, in my house to get his things, etc.. I even at one point strongly suggested to him that he find another college to finish his senior year at.
But of course, once again I couldn’t stick to my guns. I ended up rationalizing with myself that he’d been an open book to me for the past 3 years and that he hadn’t screwed up majorly in that time…maybe he really had changed. It was during this time that something pretty horrible happened to me, and Mike was the only one there for me (mainly because he’s the only on I would talk to about it). And the summer after what would have been our 6th anniversary (had we not broken up a million times) we were back together.
For the last two years, things were relatively okay with us. Except I’d developed this horrible evolution of my gut feeling. I was always “looking over my shoulder” and waiting for the next shoe to drop. I’d go through periods where I’d imagine the most horrible things and that horrible feeling would come back and somehow I’d believe they were really happing/going to happen just because I felt sick about it. Despite the fact that I knew in my mind all the situations were pretty much fabricated by me, based on some small thing I’d picked up like some girl saying something to Mike in a way that rubbed me wrong, I couldn’t get them out of my mind.
I started snooping again, and the shoe dropped.
The third time Mike “cheated” on me, he never actually got to perform the act. But to me, intent to cheat is just as bad as actually doing it. He basically told me flat out that if we didn’t break up for good, he’d stay with me, but he wanted someone else. Basically he was a coward and made me make the final decision, all while telling me that he wasn’t sure what he wanted (which was a blatant lie considering shortly after I finally gave in he made it very clear he knew exactly what he wanted).
After that I was lost. I spent 8 years of my life beating myself up, raking myself over the coals, and sacrificing the parts of my personality that were most important to me all to keep the man I loved in my life. Even though I am more than honest with myself now and will admit that for the last several years of our relationship, Mike was a habit and not my boyfriend.
I’ve come so far over the past 2 years….but 8 years extremely hard to just throw away when they did so much damage to you in the first place.
I’m still the girl who pays super close attention to everything and picks up on the smallest, insignificant things.
I’m still the girl whose mind takes those insignificant things and builds them up into mountains instead of mole hills.
I’m still the girl whose mind can make her physically ill over these perceived mountains.
I’m still the girl who has a hard time asking questions because before now she’s never gotten truthful answers.
I’m still the girl who isn’t used to being happy.
I’m still the girl who is waiting for the axe to drop every time I smile.
I’m still the girl who beats herself up for all of the above.
But I’m also…
The girl who doesn’t automatically distrust everything that everyone says to me.
The girl who began to see a future for herself despite not having a boyfriend or anyone to rely on (besides family of course).
The girl who didn’t give up and move back home despite being virtually alone and miserable 7 hours from anyone she cared about.
The girl who is more determined now than ever to beat her neurosis and learn to be happy without the “but what if.”
I was determined to kick these bad habits before I met Seto, but meeting him and subsequently falling in love with him made that determination even stronger.
I’ll be honest… It would be super easy for me just to let myself go and lose everything into my relationship with Seto. Get into a situation where he could literally walk right over me and I’d smile and take it (even though I know that’s something he would never do). But my relationship with him is so different than the one I had with Mike. I don’t need to lose myself to make things work. I don’t need to sacrifice my personality to keep him around or not cause fights (of course if there was something I did that truly bothered him and he had a good reason for why I should change something, of course I’d do it, but I don’t feel like I need to unwillingly throw away bits and pieces of myself anymore).
I don’t feel like I can’t stand on my own without him. Maybe thats a side-effect of building myself back up after Mike and recognizing where I went wrong, but it’s something that I’ve never had in a relationship. It was always either “perfect” or “devastation.” Of course I certainly don’t want to have to stand without him, or ever let him go, but if forced I know in my heart that I could. In a small way it’s comforting because it means that I’ve realized that I will always be Whitney and that Whitney will has a future no matter what.
Every minute that I spend with that man is precious to me. Because I’ve never connected with someone the way I feel that I connected with him. He understands me, he understands everything that I’ve written above and how it has all shaped me into the imperfect girl that he’s dating. He understands those imperfections and doesn’t hold them against me like so many others I know. I am thankful towards him for that because it means rather than frantically trying to suppress those parts of me until I can’t control them anymore and snap, I can be honest about it and we can talk (regardless of how bad I am at initiating said conversations).
I ‘dated’ a bit before I met Seto, and the common theme with all of the guys was that I was dating because it was what I was “supposed” to be doing. Even the ones I got along great with, I knew it wouldn’t last. The idea of having a future with a guy was basically a laughable subject to me. I was the girl who would never get married, never have a family, never do any of that because I was the girl who would never be willing to risk giving my heart to someone else again.
Seto, to me, is worth that risk; worth getting my heart ripped out a smashed a million times. And he is the only person I have ever met who I can say that about.
I don’t know what the future holds for me but I’m learning to accept the fact that, in large part, it’s going to be what I shape it into.