Alone is a sad place to be. Alone is singular and harsh and solitary.
When you spend six years of your life with someone, you take pride in the “we”. Your friends don’t struggle to get to know your significant other. They don’t have to decide if they like him for you, because he’s grandfathered in. No one questions it. It’s an easy place to be.
When you date someone from ages 14-20, you teach the other person how to treat you. Except, when you’re 14, its not exactly how you hope things will be when you’re 20. It’s basic and bossy and simple. When you’re 20, everything is complex and multi-faceted and you have approximately 328 things to juggle in life and its the time where you answer all of the big questions like Who do I want to be? And who do I want to love? And how do I want to spend the time in my life? And the truth is you’re just getting started. Life gets busier and I know now that I desire to have a busy life with someone else.
I didn’t want to end things with The First One. He was my whole life. He knew how to hold my hand and he knew my sibling’s birthdays and his niece called me “Aunt” and I knew his mom was abusive growing up. He knew me, until he began to hate me and tell me half truths. He lied to me about failing out of college. Then lied to me about the requirements to get back in. He lied to me about why he couldn’t keep a job. He lied about how fast he could run a 40. Like that was something that mattered?! But the point is, he continued to lie over and over and over. Most importantly, he lied to me about truly caring for me. He had no desire to live a brave life-to try new things, to fail and to continue to keep going-with me. He lied and said he didn’t put me on a pedestal. But he did. Then he began to throw rocks at me. He started telling me that he hated the way I dressed. That he disliked how I cut my hair short. He hated the things I liked. Anything I liked. He wasn’t proud of my success in school, internships, and finding jobs. He was resentful of my new friends. He hated that I moved forward while he floundered.
I was alone before I was alone. That is a realization that I had years later. He didn’t begin to lie to me. He had lied to me all along. He had cheated on me his first semester of college and glazed over it as though it was nothing. He cut me down and told lies about me to his siblings. He told my best friend that he was in love with her. The First One never challenged me to be better or drove me mad with passion or figured out what books I liked and why I felt that they were metaphors for my life. He was a weight I carried while I worked to put myself through college. He was the guy that stood in the corner while I attempted to make new friends and come out of the shell I had created for myself in college. He was the man who embarrassed me with his inability to read people, so much so that I mothered him and consistently shushed him by pressing the heel of my hand into his knee. It turns out that I wasn’t there for him either.
I left when it became too unbearable. When the words he said cut me down more than they loved me.
I am alone again. Except I have a best friend, a dog, a family, a post-college family, friends around the world, girls that I can cry with and laugh with and drink with until we’re silly and full of happiness that pushes up through your gut and makes every breath you take feel full. Friends that send you books that say things like this:
“Fear of being alone is not a good reason to stay. Leaving this man you’ve been with for six years won’t be easy, but you’ll be okay and so will he. The end of your relationship with him will likely also mark the end of an era of your life. In moving into this next era there are going to be things you lose and things you gain. Trust yourself. It’s Sugar’s golden rule. Trusting yourself means living out what you already know to be true.”
My new era began when The First One ended. And it’s definitely a much better place to be.