To this day I am still angry with myself. I think of all the times that I had sweaty palms while waiting for a text back from him, all the times I cried over him, and my blood boils a little inside of me. How did I let myself become so consumed? I had prided myself on being the type of girl who didn’t let this kind of thing happen to me, who was sensible and level-headed.
We had been friends at first. But I always felt something for him, even when I pretended that I didn’t. He had a girlfriend, I had a boyfriend. And even though I was happy with the guy I was with, I would still find myself thinking about him. I would pass a restaurant on the street and think of going there with him. If I saw something that made me laugh, I just wanted to share it with him. We seemed to have this connection.
He was my first heartbreak. And I think that it still stings, even after two years, because I changed who I was for him. I let the things that were truly important to me – my self-worth and self-respect, my education – slip out of sight when I was with him.
My relationship with my mother has always been very important to me. I could talk to her about anything, I had never had secrets from her before. But when I was with him, all I did was lie: I lied about who I was seeing, where I was going, how I was feeling. She could see who I was becoming while I was with him. One night after a particularly bad argument in which I was begging for her to take me to his house, she looked at me in a way that she never had before or ever has since and said, “I don’t know who you are anymore.”
I put him ahead of everything, when he wouldn’t even pay $10 for a cab to come get me. I knew I felt more for him than he did for me, but I couldn’t stop going there. When I was happy with him, I was so happy. But when the reality of how he felt about me was clear, I had never been more miserable.
And the reality was this: I made him a priority, in fact, the only priority, but for him I was simply an option. An option he chose to forfeit, a box he didn’t check off.
When he broke up with me, I couldn’t stop shaking. I didn’t want to tell anyone because I didn’t want it to be real. I was so hurt and embarrassed. But in the middle of the night, I woke up my mother. When she saw my face and knew what had happened, she didn’t say “I told you so.”
It’s been two years and I still think about him.
I’m still trying to understand why that is – why is it that the people who hurt us most have the most power over us? Why is it that the people who don’t see our worth have the most effect on it?
If you’re reading these words and they sound familiar:
It’s going to hurt. Maybe for a couple of weeks, maybe for a month, maybe for a year.
But one day, it won’t.
And next time, you’ll know. You will know that no matter how much you felt for that person, no matter how much you didn’t want to let them go, you’re better off without them. Because even if you weren’t their first priority, you should be your own.