To The Boy I Didn’t Love (But Thought I Did)

Disclaimer: If the people being talked about happen to read this, I’m omitting names in order to protect your identity and privacy. This isn’t meant to bash anybody. This is extremely difficult for me to write and post. I am telling my truth because I am trying to empower young girls in a way that I was not, but wish I was.
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I’ve only ever loved one boy. At least, I thought I loved him, in the moment. Little did I know our relationship would be a walk through hell. I haven’t ever been in a serious relationship, except for this one where I thought I loved the guy (if you can even call it a relationship because we “broke up” every 4.5 seconds). I’ve dated a couple of guys after the one that I thought I loved. Those ended quickly. I really didn’t give those guys a chance, though. After this guy, I didn’t open myself up to any of the guys that showed interest in pursuing something with me. I’d go on a date or two, tops 3, and find some stupid reason to end things or get really distant. I was left with an enormous fear of getting my heart broken the way that “first love” guy did.

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I guess we can start with this “love.” I’m the kind of person who loves with my entire heart and being. I am like this with my family and friends, and I was like this with this guy. It all started at the end of my freshman year of high school. It started badly, in a dramatic high school fiasco kind of way. I would never start a relationship, of any sort, like that again. But, I really liked him. I was blind to a lot of what I was doing. We did a lot of breaking up and getting back together. During these breaks, usually initiated by me, I would block his phone number and avoid eye contact with him at school – only to go cry about it the second he was out of sight. Eventually, I would unblock his number, text him a long message about why I missed him, and ask him to be my boyfriend again. He’d say yes, and it was all fine until the next fight. This is why I hate sending long text messages now. Thinking back to this time, my extremely low self-esteem makes me cringe. Who would have thought that a few years later I’d be writing a blog about self-empowerment?
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The thing about our breaks were that I would be sulking about him, eating my bodyweight in Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, but he would be messing around with other girls. The whole Ross and Rachel “we were on a break” situation in Friends hits home. While Ross and Rachel were on a break, Ross, in order to show his love and commitment to Rachel, should have respected her enough not to hook up with someone else. They were on a break, not done forever. If you haven’t seen Friends, 1) go watch it right now, 2) sorry for the spoiler, but the show has SO much more to it than this incident. Anyway, I love Friends, but this is about me spilling my guts to my readers, not obsessing over the show. Lover boy would mess around with other girls, girls who happened to be my friends, while we were on breaks. I liked to think that it was because I wasn’t giving him what he wanted from mr physically. While that was most likely true, he also did this because he never really respected me. While that’s his fault, part of the blame in this situation would have to be mine. I allowed him to treat me as poorly as I treated myself. I had the lowest self-esteem in the entire world. I thought I was an ugly, stupid, worthless piece of garbage. It saddens me that I once chose to live at war with myself. I let him tell me who I should be because I didn’t know who I wanted to be.
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You are probably thinking, why did she stay with this guy? Because (I thought) I loved him. I wanted to tell him every part of my day, and I wanted to hear about his. I wanted to make him smile and laugh. I wanted him to be happy. I wanted him to be happy with me. I trusted him enough to show him parts of my being that I hated. I found comfort in silence when he was around. When he held my hand, I felt this unique sense of joy and warmth. I was a blind girl. Writing these sentences, again, makes me cringe. Not because I have this deep hatred towards this guy (I did for a while, but I’ve mostly gotten past it), but because I was searching for love from him to replace the love I didn’t have for myself.
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The Boy I Didn’t Love But Thought I DidOne day that comes to mind is that of our sophomore school pictures. I was on the tennis team that fall, and he was on the soccer team. Our outdoor after-school practices got cancelled on that day because the heat index was too high for us to practice outdoors. While we were waiting for our rides home, him and I talked at my locker. He was really mad at me because I had asked another guy for help with chemistry homework rather than him. We were fighting, and I went from yelling to crying in a matter of two minutes. I remember the red dress I was wearing that day. It was sleeveless and had silver bubble-studs on it. My hair was naturally curly and I actually felt a little bit pretty that day for the first time in a really long while (I had crazy negative self image issues at that time, the epitome of my barbie phase). This freshman that we knew from marching band saw me at my locker and ran up to give me a hug. This kid was very nice, but a bit of a strong character. I’ve learned to love these strong characters because they are unapologetically true to themselves. I aspire to be like that. Anyways, he came up to me and told me I looked beautiful and that my dress was also beautiful. He noticed that I was crying and not really responding to him. He hugged me again as more tears fell down my face, and said, turning toward my boyfriend, “Is this guy bothering you? Do I need to have a word with him?” This was a sweet gesture on this kid’s behalf to want to protect me, but I politely declined. My boyfriend didn’t do a very good job at hiding the fact that he was laughing at the kid, and as soon as the kid left, he broke out into intense laughter. I slammed my locker door shut and walked away. About a week later, we were back together. My tennis friends and I would slack off at practice watching him play on game days. The field he played on was (not-so) conveniently right by the tennis courts. When he got a water break on one particular day, he saw my teammates and I and blew me a kiss and then pointed at me and winked. My teammates thought we were “total relationship goals,” which is the saddest thing ever to me. From the outside, in that moment, it looked cute and sweet. But that relationship was anything but that.
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This story makes me so thankful for the 180 degree growth that I’ve had in the four years that have passed since that moment, and the two and a half years that have passed since being with him. I would never let a guy talk down to me like that or try to manipulate who I get to be friends with, or even who I get to interact with. I would never stand by and let somebody laugh at another person maliciously like that. I would never let a stupid gesture like blowing a kiss make me forget about all of the bad stuff. I would never let watching a guy stop me from doing what I want to do, or love to do. It isn’t about tennis and soccer, it’s about the fact that I looked at him like he was the best thing in the world. He was on a pedestal in my mind with a halo around his blonde curls. Let me tell you some of the best things in the world: my mom’s hugs, my niece’s laugh, and any song by Adele. Let me tell you some of the things in the world that are not the best: high school boys. 
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This post isn’t just a “let’s crap on the ex boyfriend,” kind of thing, though. I was at a really bad place in my life while we were together. I was dealing with a mental illness that I was desperately trying to convince myself that I didn’t have. Depression is difficult, and my situation was difficult. I was angry at the world, and I was angry at everything. I took a lot of anger out on this guy, because I thought I had a legitimate reason to dump it all on him – he didn’t respect me the way that he should have, and he messed around with other girls when we were on a break. While, it sucks that he didn’t treat me well, I need to acknowledge two things. It is 100% his fault that he treated me poorly, but it is my fault that I didn’t walk away from it for so long. It is my fault that I forgave him so many times; actually, that I forgave him at all. However, he didn’t deserve this extreme amount of anger I would dump on him that wasn’t even because of him. He didn’t need to go through that. It was my battle to fight, and my anger to work through. I shouldn’t have taken out that anger on him. I shouldn’t have tried to use confrontations with him as a way to find my empowerment. I was right to be angry at him when he did something that angered me, but not when I was mad at the world and he hadn’t done anything to me at the time. I realized that, how I went through depression, and I went through being hurt by him, he went through being hurt by me and my actions also affected him in a way that he didn’t rightfully deserve. I went through depression, he went through storm Indira. I’m not calling him a saint, by any means; he did a lot of crappy things. But, as an adult, I look back and see that I wasn’t a saint either and the forest-fire of a relationship that we had was both of our faults. Realizing that, after all of this time, helped me heal. I forgive myself. I also forgive him. This experience helped build me into the empowered individual that I am today.
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It’s terrifying because I didn’t want to be with him any less when he hurt me. I guess I haven’t been in a relationship since him because I’m scared of getting to that place with someone else and getting hurt the way I did with him. He started dating another girl very quickly after we finally called it quits. When he broke up with that girl, he started dating another girl right away. That’s his life, and I am no one to judge him now, just like he is no one to judge me and my decisions. We go to the same university, and it’s a big place, but we still run into each other from time to time. A lot of times I look away, and so does he. It’s just easier that way. Sometimes one of us says “hey,” and the other reciprocates, but neither of us stops walking and that’s the end of that. I don’t really think of him too much, except for when I see him or when I hear Bon Jovi. I unfriended him on Facebook and unfollowed him on Twitter; not because I hate him, but I don’t need to see it and I don’t need to contact him, so there’s no point in being connected via social media. It’s so weird though, we treat each other like mere acquaintances, but we knew each other extremely well. I’ve grown so much in the time since we’ve been together, enough that he doesn’t really know me anymore. He only knows who I used to be. I only know who he used to be too.The world works in funny ways.
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I don’t miss him, I also don’t hate him anymore. I’ve accepted that he is a chapter in my past, and while I’m over him, I’m still getting over the damage that relationship did to my ability to trust and be vulnerable with people I date. I learned that devotion is not love. I learned that absolutely nobody gets to talk down to me or make me feel small. I have found a voice in realizing that I am a good person and I deserve only the best. I have found love for myself in my writing and in the way I treat the people who I love. I love that I have the gift to be able to be so open about my mistakes in order to try to help and empower other people. I have grown into a brand new person than that girl in the red dress. I donated that red dress to Goodwill when we broke up. I hope somebody can make better memories in it than the ones I did.
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The moral of this story is that you are the decision-maker in terms of everything that happens in your life. You can choose who you let into your heart. You can choose to stand up for yourself and what you believe to be right. You can choose to walk away from what no longer serves you. You can choose to not forgive somebody if their actions deeply hurt or anger you. You can choose to stop loving somebody after they hurt you. I have grown into a new person with pretty good self-esteem, and an empowered mindset. I have grown a strength that is undeniable and always ready to go. I will never let somebody treat me the way that this boy did, and I will also not let myself treat anybody the way that I treated this boy. I have grown, I have learned, I have coped, and I have overcome. I accepted the fact that I have clinical (biological) depression, and I have gotten to a place where it is pretty well under control. I have walked away from friendships that were hurting me or holding me back. I have worked so hard towards achieving my goals. I put all of my energy into bettering and satisfying myself. It’s amazing how taking care of yourself and loving yourself can completely change you as a person. I will never go back to being pushed around like I was 4 years ago. I’m a brand new me.
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One day I want to fall in love. I want to find a partner who loves me, respects me, empowers me, and makes me happy. I want to do the same things for him. But I don’t want this for a good while. I want several years still to continue growing and establishing this new and empowered version of myself. I will always work on improving and empowering myself until I’m in a grave. But, for the next several years, I want to continue being selfish about it, the way that I have been for about a year now.
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I’m going to end this gut-spilling post by inserting some quotes from a song that I think really relates to this situation, “Love Me More,” by Maggie Rose. It’s all about loving yourself first, and loving yourself enough to stand up to people who are hurting you, even if you love them. I saw Maggie live in Chicago in May when she opened for Hunter Hayes. She’s an excellent performer. I highly recommend you check out the song here. Now, here are some lyrics that really resonate with me.
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“Ignoring your call,

Cause hearing your voice would only make me feel small. 

I couldn’t be who told me to be.” 
 
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“I’m gonna do whatever it takes to get living again,
But I’m back in my skin. 
Every mistake I’m owning it. 
I’m making sure I’m who I’m doing this for.” 
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“But you never tried to know me like this. 
I was losing myself until you lost me. 
I’m not gonna hide. 
My light’s way too bright.”
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Sending love and strength to you all, my lovely readers/friends.
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If you are in a relationship right now that sounds anything like the one that I talked about today, please get out of it. It is toxic. You can and will move on to better things. Your light is way too bright to be covered by somebody who doesn’t even see it. t hope this story served as an inspiration for you. I got out, did some thinking, and realized how much better than all of that I am. I am empowered, I am no longer lost and insecure the way that I was with him. I no longer take orders or ask for permission to be who I want to be. I deserve love, and so do you. The best kind, though, comes from within yourself. Find that before anything. 
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Love and courage,
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Indira

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