"My worst nightmare is that you are going to meet a 28 year old with a career and a house, and leave me for a real man."
That was one of the last things my erratic ex said to me before our 5 year relationship ship crashed and burned to it's own death.
When we met, I was 19 and he was just turning 18. We were both in community college and hit it off right away as good friends.
He was timid, shy, quiet, and did not have his life figured out yet.
I was 19 with a toddler, a strong single mom in college who was a part of SEVERAL organizations on campus, took full time classes and did an internship. I was a loud, social powerhouse.
Opposites attract, but in the long run only couples who work together will stay together.
We worked out plenty of obstacles, saw each other often in school or after, and went on dates. I felt he was a gentleman because he treated me like I was a human. He was patient, calm, and had a slow paced life. No clubbing, no drugs, no wild streak.
His family was religious and that meant to me that he grew up with a solid foundation and standards to live by.
Unlike my broken home with addicted, mentally ill parents whom were abusive and ultimately did not raise me at all.
I had trusted in one guy before this one, my h.s. relationship that was volatile and ended with me moving to a relative's house pregnant with nothing to my name. And single.
That guy had cheated, lied, manipulated, abandoned, manipulated some more and then completely annihilated the relationship as well as his responsibilities as a parent.
So committing to this man was new, exciting, happy even for a time.
But there were so many signs I did not pick up on.
He had been "better than the rest" and let me be the powerhouse I wanted to be.
Over time, when he would be private or weird about his life decisions or constantly complain that his parents misunderstood and nagged him I would be sympathetic. I figured he was just a young guy figuring out life and that it was not my place to insert my opinions. Just to be supportive.
So I had my own life, my education, my child, and my successes separately.
Like a spectator, he would come and go visiting in my life. When I moved into my new campus apartment at the University I got into after attending community college with this guy ---> things shifted big time.
He began to get shaky with his dreams. Unsure of what he wanted. Unsure of his faith. Even unsure of me.
Then came his deep desire to dive into his religion and his parents desires of him. Though i continued focusing on college and my own life, I became supportive of his spiritual journey and even tried out his church.
I ended up loving it and joined for a while in my own branch location by my school.
He dove even further into it, deciding to ditch college all together and sign up for a church missionary trip which ended up sending him away to Africa.
I stayed supportive and hopeful.
I was after all used to being independent. And I wanted to continue to honor my promises in being with him while we figured out our own dreams.
So I vowed to write to him. To stay faithful and involved in our relationship. To support this shift in our life.
He returned after less than 2 weeks.
I got a phone call one night from LONDON, his loud rambling waking me up as he announced he would be coming home to me. To be with me. To take big strides in our relationship and to never leave again.
He said it was the biggest mistake of his life.
When the dust settled and he was home again, his family was a bit disappointed but supported him [I guess] in his return.
At first, his life plans were all "figured out".
He would be with me.
College did not work. Church did not work. His jobs did not work. But we would.
I would because i was the only thing solid in his life.
Looking back at this, I have to laugh.
I was an option. And not the first. Or the second.
The option with me soon felt lackluster as well.
He got weird. Distant. Would ghost me. And then show up like nothing was wrong or happened.
He began to make me feel crazy and needy for wanting to know if he was ok.
Then we had a big blow out one night when he came by to see me. He was edgy when he showed up. It took us over an hour to try and pick a movie to see. He was moody. And then he said it was me.
It had been "me" for weeks. He said "I liked to pick fights". He said "I was always asking questions". He said "I was ruining us". And I felt that HARD. I had been crying over it all since he had returned home.
He then started fighting with me about my life and goals. He said I should not bother doing my Masters Degree after finishing at the University. He said I should not be doing my major, that studying womens rights made no sense and was useless.
So I told him to get the fuck out.
At that point, in spring 2014, I decided to shake up my own life. I cut my long dark hair to my shoulders in a platinum Bob. I got a nose ring.
I started partying with my friends and focusing on self care at home. Bubble baths. Journaling. Candle lighting. Painting.
I did these things I had not done for myself in years. Because I'd focused on work and classes + being a mom at home for my little girl for so long that I had not given myself time to just be a young girl.
I decided to embrace being in my 20's, free from my abusive family and free from anyone controlling me or weighing me down.
I even went out on some dates and met new people.
Just to feel alive.
It was an amazing few months until the end of summer, when my ex had begged and pleaded to have me back.
He apologized and made promises. He addressed his behavior and said he supported my dreams.
So I took him back.
I told him to do boyfriend things.
This reminds me of when Pam took Roy back [the office] after calling off their wedding. When he sobered up and tried turning his life around.
I was a total idiot, as I now know with full confidence.
So I committed for another 4 dreadful months to a man that grew apart from me intentionally and never really actually cared for me.
In fact, I'd always been the one to start every conversation, to plan any dates, to be the one to listen to HIS needs or feelings. Or to beg for him to speak when he fell silent during our arguements, which would bring me to tears.
I was never able to do the hobbies and activities he wanted. Like surfing and going out to the bar.
I was a single mother with a small child, whom I raised without his help or involvement because I wanted boundaries.
But he had never tried to be more than that.
And the few times within those years that my kid got in his car or went to his parents house, I felt like I owed him so much for just tolerating it.
When we got back together those last 4 months, he went from super sweet to super gone. Ghosting me. Not being intimate or wanting to be close to me. He would be short with me and then just say it was stress trying to find a job since he had dropped out.
Then he brought me out one night to his volunteer fire dept house where he volunteered for years. Where I'd attended his fancy events and gotten a baby sitter several times.
And when I walked in, one of the guys asked if I was still his girlfriend. Another joked and said he wasnt sure because my ex had so many.
I laughed awkwardly then because I had no clue.
That Christmas he did not see me and made up some lie that his family accidentally exposed. Meanwhile, I'd saved up pennies to afford a present I knew he wanted really badly.
Instead, I was gifted a week of ghosting followed by a text that said he had met someone.
One if the last things he had said before ghosting me was that his biggest fear was that id fall in love with some older guy who ACTUALLY HAD HIS SHIT TOGETHER, and that I would not need him anymore.
I never believed in the ability to manifest nor did I understand energies or wishes.
I barely ever believed in praying.
My entire romantic life had been handcrafted with paper mache shit.
And I never believed wishing on a star would land me a good partner.
After healing from the tragic death of the time I wasted on my ex, I wrote out a list. A long, 4 page list of desired traits and examples of things I wanted in a partner.
I wrote it as I cried my eyes out.
During a class.
While not doing my assignment.
I remember very clearly leaving that class in a rage, tears blinding me as my mascara ran.
I said FUCK YOU to all the pain and the frustration of being an independent person but so lonely.
After weeks of focusing again on school and work, a friend convinced me to get back on the horse and try a dating app. She said It would be a nice distraction. A way to move forward.
So again i said fuck it and i signed up. At first i was timid to write anything about myself. But something in me also said FUCK IT AND BE VULNERABLE.
So I wrote a long and heartfelt biography about myself.
I also wrote what I was looking for in a partner. And what i was absolutely not looking for, nor would tolerate.
Valentine's day came rolling in and I actually messaged someone who intrigued me for his lengthy profile with very specific and similar desires to my own.
That man is now my husband. We have been together for almost 5 years. And I am so grateful that I found him.
Ivan was in fact an older guy, with his shit together. And a connection to me that I never had before.
He showed me respect and actually did support me in my goals + dreams + desires.
He did not bullshit. He said what he felt bluntly. And he was not in it to play games.
What I learned from my time with my ex were the things that fueled my 4 page list.
Ivan has met just about all of them.
But love is NOT about manifesting perfection.
Love is not about meeting each others requirements per say.
This love I have now came about because we both felt it and devoted ourselves to it.
In the nearly 5 years with this man, we have done everything together. We have supported each others dreams and helped to make them happen. We have parented and become parents together, caring for all 3 kids in our blended family. We simply just commit and nurture our relationship constantly.
He knows I would follow him to the ends of the earth, live in a box if it meant being by his side. I know he would do the same.
What I did not know with my ex or any other partner before him was that love is not bought or begged for. Love is not bargained with. Love is not worth crying over.
And that love holds no space for insecurities, lies, doubts, fears, or betrayals.
Whatever it is, that is not love.
And looking back, having seen the girl my ex found and learning she was into the same shit as him, I feel relieved.
I would have never married him or had kids with him. I would have never had my dream career while being with him. I would never have gotten to embrace who I truly am.
Who I am was not the right match for him AT ALL.
We out grew each other.
I could have done without the stress. I could have done without the pain. I wish being cheated on or lied to never hurt so badly.
But I am okay and I am better because of it happening.
My long list and tear streaked face proved helpful because I finally woke up to my own needs in winter 2015.
And that led me straight to the love of my life.
When we experience pain from toxic relationships it is so easy to CLOSE UP.
It becomes EASY to give up and not allow love in.
Whenever someone has hurt me or betrayed me, it has been a blessing in disguise.
Both in the release of something toxic from my life and the awareness it would bring me in my life.
I am thankful for his doubts and fears too.
My ex was not right for me.
And somewhere out there, a better person WAS waiting for me.
The stars aligned, or whatever, and BAM.
So do yourself a favor.
When someone breaks your fucking heart, take your feelings out on paper.
Set intentions. And set yourself free from the pain.
Writing is power. And doing something with your life is empowerment.
Love yourself through it all.
The rest will fall into place.
Published by Jean Soto JS Jaded Savior blog: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jean Soto, mother of 3 and wife, is a writer + artist in the Hudson Valley, NY community.
Content mention of Rape, Abuse, Neglect, Addictions, Mental Illness, Kidnap, Molestation, Child abuse, Teen Pregnancy, Abortion, birth, body image, gender/identity dysphoria, sexuality, personal trauma, domestic violence and other extremely personal stories. Please practice caution. I am not a licensed physician or mental health professional. No medical prescribing is provided on this site, Only personal insights, experience stories, and advice; All stories published have had prior authorization. Questions? Contact Jean at: email@example.com
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