Project 14 – Day 6: Romantic Attachments

Day 6 is about the boys and men that I’ve been fortunate enough to fall in love with and be loved by.

I’m not looking forward to writing this post, as I’m still raw over a break up. If you’ve read some of my previous posts, you know that a break up was the catalyst for me realizing that I didn’t recognize myself any more. Relationships have been a big part of my life – in the six years since grade 9, I haven’t been single for more than a year total. I’ve forgotten how to be single, and this kinda sucks. I still smart a bit, but writing is something that helps sooth the heart, even if the heart bleeds a little on the way.

For those reading for a thrill, I’m going to disappoint you. All the guys I’ve had the fortune of dating have been very decent, very wonderful guys. There are no terrible stories of cheating, dishonesty, and unforgivable sins. Yes, we had our problems, and mistakes were made on both sides, but because this is the age of the internet, I’m not going to detail any of them. They’re private. What I will talk about is how they’ve affected me, and made me who I am today. It’s important to me that I can always hold my head high, even if any of the guys I’m talking about or anyone I might date and fall in love with in the future ever stumble upon and read this blog.

So far, I’ve loved three guys romantically in my lifetime, but I’ve had more than my fair share of crushes. My first crush actually happened in grade 5, when I transferred to the gifted program. He wasn’t the best looking guy in the class, or the smartest, but there was just something about him. I’m still not 100% why I was attracted to him, but I did recognize my feelings for him were different that what I felt for all the other guys in the class. However, I was still painfully shy, and I couldn’t talk to him at all; I also had a nasty habit of lashing out when I was teased. Alas, nothing happened – he was a whole year older and had a probably mutual thing for another older girl in my class, so I was left to move on from my first crush, which admittedly, wasn’t that hard to do.

I had a bunch of little crushes in middle school, on basically any cute guy who crossed my path, but I had two overarching crushes, one in each year. They were both complicated by the situation between my ex-best friend and me (which I’ve written about before here and here). The first guy was actually a real sweetheart, but every time he’d try to talk to me, I’d be suspicious that he was spying for my ex best friend, and I was a bitch to him, even though I liked him (just goes to show, it’s not only little boys who are mean to those they like). The second guy transferred into our class in grade 8 from the outside, and he joined my ex-best friend’s group because that’s where all the boys were. I fell for this guy for purely shallow reasons – he had really nice cheekbones, and the prettiest blue eyes, and I said more to him in a twenty minute bus ride in high school than I did in the entire year we were in the same class together in middle school.

I should probably qualify what I consider attractive in a guy: cheekbones. That’s it. Looks really don’t mean much to me, as most people who know me will concede, but I have a weakness for nice cheekbones and the physique that usually goes with them. It’s a strange attraction, and it’s something I’ve given up trying to figure out, but it’s been the common denominator of all the guys I’ve found physically attractive.

I met and fell in love with my first boyfriend in grade 9, just a few months after school started, and we dated for nearly a year. We were like puppies, fumbling our way through both our first “grown up” relationship. I learned a lot from him; he showed me what it was like to be treated as a princess, how to adore and what it felt like to be adored back, how it felt to have someone to hold and always talk to, how it felt to miss someone and what it was like to be missed back, why couples call each other by ridiculous nicknames, and what puppy love felt like. I started competitive trivia partially because he talked me into it, and I know more than anyone needs to about comics, military history, and alternate history fiction because of him. I also learned not to cling, when not to listen to other well-meaning people, that when a relationship is over because the other person has moved on, it’s time to move on as well, and how to be friends with an ex. We’re still friends today, mostly because it’s very hard to win championships and do things like the Ambassadors with someone and not become friends with them.

My second boyfriend was about as different from my first as it’s possible to be without being my third boyfriend. We started dating because I basically used him as a chair during a trip to Greece in grade 10, and again, we fell in love like a ton of bricks. We were really happy together, in the way that few people rarely are but I permanently associate with relationships. During those four years with him, I learned how not to be perfect, what unconditional love was, to give and to receive, what feeling totally secure and stable in a relationship felt like, and how to make long distance work, for a while. I learned that I could fall in love with more than one person during my lifetime, and move past previous relationships. I learned what it was like to grow up with someone always in your heart, and I forgot how to be alone, because I never really was – any time I wanted him, he would be there. I learned more about gaming than most people do in a lifetime, and I was more deeply immersed in geekdom. I learned why some guys forget anniversaries (because when you’re together for so long, the time that’s past is no longer important, because you think you have forever), how to take someone for granted, and how I could outgrow even the best of love.

Even though our break up was cordial, I missed (and still do miss) the comfort and security of a long-term relationship, and I’d forgotten how to be single. He’d been my emotional rock, my voice of reason, my safety blanket, and my foundation for so long, that I hadn’t realized how deeply I’d depended on him to keep me grounded and cheer me up and listen to me. It was like there was this hole in my life, and I’ve had some pretty disastrous experiments trying to fill it

One of these disastrous experiments was with a guy friend from the states, who I’d met on a cruise. We clicked really well, and he helped me fill the part of me that was used to having someone to talk to about everything. Even though I knew I was shaky, I fell for him anyways, and nearly destroyed our relationship in the process, because while he liked me and didn’t want to hurt me, he knew we would never work out as we were. I tried to use him as a band-aid over the massive, gaping hole in my heart. Luckily, he’s old and wise enough to understand why I did a lot of the childish, immature things that I did, and to forgive me, and we’re still close friends, thank goodness.

I’d say my third boyfriend was also an experiment in filling that hole that my breaking up with my second boyfriend left in my heart. It wasn’t rebound, per se, but when things happened, I still missed a lot of the things about being in a relationship and I was lonely. Once again, I fell in love like a ton of bricks. This relationship was short, only a month or two, but it seemed like a long time. We took our already close friendship and became even closer as lovers. From him, I learned about romance, and gentlemanly conduct, and what adult relationships could be like. I learned about pool, and cars, and science, and when to pitch a small Asian girl in a drinking contest against a large white male (never).

I also learned what it feels like to compromise too much, to be too desperate, and to tie too much of your self-worth into what someone else thinks of you. I learned that I have basic needs in a relationship that I can’t ignore, that I can do stupid things because of my heart, even after a relationship is done, that it takes time to build the kind of relationship I want, and that love sometimes isn’t enough. I learned why heart-break hurts, why I can’t fall in love too quickly, why I need to be comfortable alone before I attempt another relationship, and what my own demons are. I’m learning to move on, to reclaim my self worth, and to put myself back together.

In retrospect, I’m glad this relationship happened. I made a lot of mistakes, but I also learned how to fix them. I’ve learned terrible things about myself, but I’ve also learned some pretty great things too. My heart is broken, but I’ve learned to patch it with gold and that it’s fragile, so I should be careful about who I give it to. My childhood has ended, but my life as an adult just started. I lost my old identity, but I’m crafting a new one.

If you ever read this, I’m sorry. I’ve written a million unsent letters to you, some angry, some sad, some pleading and some just hurting, hoping each one would be the last. I doubt this one will be, but it’s the only one you might ever read. I’m sorry for everything I did wrong during the relationship, for everything I did wrong after it. I’m sorry for expecting you too much of you too soon, I’m sorry for all the pain and embarrassment and coldness I caused you, and I’m sorry that I couldn’t be what you wanted. I’m sorry that I behaved rudely, over-dramatically, afterwards, and I’m sorry we can’t be friends any more because I loved you too much.

I don’t regret this relationship, but it came at a high price: lots of tears, heartbreak and hurt, a shattered identity, bad grades, a failed professional exam, and a good friend lost. And he is lost as a friend; I am friends with my other two exes, but I can’t be with him. I don’t love him or hate him any more, but I’m not cheerfully fond of him like I am of my other exes. I can’t make the promise that I make with all my friends with him. I feel guilty for not being able to be a friend to him, though, and I dread seeing him again, eventually. My campus is a big one, and I think I’d be able to avoid him, but I can’t. I just can’t be his friend. I can’t smile at him and notice how empty his smile is compared to when it was full of love. I can’t share memes with him knowing I have to hold myself back from sharing the cute “I love you” ones. I can’t cook, or game, or even sit near him without yearning to reach over for a hug, a hand clasp, or a kiss like we used to. I can’t facebook or skype him knowing that all my pain, all my love, is just an upwards scroll away. I can’t hang out with him knowing that if a friend of his sees us together and asks about it, he’ll probably say something along the lines of “yeah, she’s hot but she’s just a little…” significant roll of the eyes indicating that I’m crazy. I can’t congratulate him when he falls for someone else. To me, he’ll always be something I failed at, someone I wasn’t good enough for.

And I know that’s not true. When I’m sane and sober and not thinking too much, I know it’s not a matter of failure, we just didn’t fit. Sometimes I’ll wonder if he misses me (probably, but he’d never let me know), or if he’d hurt like I did (I doubt it, and I wouldn’t wish it on him), or if he wants me back (no, he’s not the type, and I wouldn’t say yes anyway), but in the long run it doesn’t matter. I’ll move on. I wish him well, but from a distance. I need to focus on me now, and stop word-vomiting about him, and feel worthy again, and smile like I used to. He’s part of my past, the last chapter in my childhood, and a nightmare that I’m slowly forgetting.

I just wish it was so easy to wipe away your feelings for someone as it is to wipe away the tears you cried over them.

Project 14 is how I’m going to start my journey of self discovery, to memorialize  who I am when I start chronicling my life. Each day, I’ll approach who I am through a different paradigm people use to define themselves. Read more about it at my About page.

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