And she will be loved…
We were sitting in the basement of my friend's house. There was a boy over that she liked and he brought a friend, who happened to be her cousin. I guess that kind of coincidence is normal when you're living in a small town. I just remember a rush if giddiness when I saw him. His eyes were deep brown, he had a funny, yet charming smile and his dark brown hair was, well in Justin Bieber style before JB wore it, side swept bangs across his forehead. We spent the night flirting like young kids do making fun of each other. I kept bugging him about his hair and he talked about how it was "apart of the lifestlye, the ska look". I had no idea what ska or love metal was the only thing I knew is that I was 17 and smitten. By the end of the night, he asked for my number. By the end of the following week, he asked if he could take me on a date. I responded, "Only if you cut your hair."
The following Friday he showed up at my house to pick me up for our date - with his hair cut. I couldn't believe it! I was in shock and it made me fall for him even more. I mean the guy was in love with his hair style and thought he was so cool, but he cut those locks for me. We did what typical kids do, go to the movies, car rides around town, ice cream dates and long walks. I'd drive the 30 minutes to see him in a different small town and he would do the same to see me. I was in my last year of high school and he was taking a year off before heading to college. I didn't quite understand the feelings that I had for him at the time. I mean he was only my second boy to take me out on dates, but this felt different than the first one. This felt different than the other boy I had gone on dates with or boys I had crushes on. I don’t think I would say I was in love but I definitely was infatuaded by him and it was all about him.
Shortly after my graduation, we were sitting in my parent's basement getting ready to head out but he wanted to talk first. I didn't know what that really meant, what I did know was that it was something that was bothering him. He looked at me and said, “Sasha, I can see myself marrying you, but since you won’t sleep with me it’s over”.
I don't remember crying, I remember feeling empty. Like this huge void had swallowed me as he left the house without words exchanged and my parents wondering why I didn't go with him. I tried to recall a time when we had talked about sex or maybe he tried to move us in that direction. I wasn't going to take the lead on that - I knew I wasn't ready. I knew that I when I did choose to have sex for the first time, I wanted it to be special and with someone I loved. I mean I was 17 and I never thought that in high school I would have to face this. I had turned down advances before from guys but he never even mentioned sex or wanting to go "all the way". I didn't know where this was coming from.
I was crushed, heartbroken - devastated.
A few months go by and I had moved to the city to go to school. The friend that introduced us had taken me to her old crushes house. I didn't realize it at the time that but the old crush and my old flame lived together. When I saw him for the first time months later, the wind was knocked out of me. We both played it off like nothing was wrong and that everything was right in the world. When in reality, the only thing I wanted to do was be with him. One night, my friend and I headed over to their house to get ready for a house party. I was sitting in this swivel chair that they had and Maroon 5 She will be loved was playing in the background. I remember locking eyes with him as the chorus repeated, "and she will be loved, and she will be loved". In that moment in time we made amends and got back together. A few weeks had gone by and we were into the same routine - still no sex. I still wasn't ready, in hind sight I didn't really trust him to not break my heart. Still the same outcome - he broke it off because I wouldn't sleep with him. This time though - he met a girl in his class and they were going for wings on Wendesdays, turns out he was catching feelings and let me for her. I found out they had slept together shortly after we stopped seeing each other.
There I was, crushed, heartbroken - devastated all over again.
I was so mad at myself for falling for him all over again. I was mad at myself for not being ready. Something in me decided that it was all my fault and that what I valued in life wasn't worth defending over for the affection and attention from a boy.
I met someone a few months after that at a bar - a nice man who was a helicopter mechanic. After every date the only thing I would hear in the back of my mind was the sentence uttered to me after my graduation, "Sasha, I can see myself marrying you, but since you won't sleep with me it's over." I started to panic as the number of dates with the helipocter mechanic got higher. I thought for sure he was going to leave me like my high school sweat heart did. I didn't want to have to go through that again, I started to think that the only way a boy like me is if I slept with him. The only way he would stay with me is if I slept with him. So I made a choce to go against my personal values and have sex when I wasn't ready because I couldn't go through the pain again of having someone dump me because I wasn't ready.
Turns out, boys dump you for lots of other reasons too.
This cycle repeated over and over and over. It lead to my heart shattering into pieces and losing who I was as a person. The words, "I can see myself marrying you, but because you won't sleep with me it's over" haunting me everytime I got close to someone. The fear of having them break my heart would creep in and I would treat them like trash. It’s crazy how much 15 years of toxic and unhealthy relationships can really weight on a person, you know? As the years wore on the level of crazy ramped up. I’m pretty sure you can name any type of toxic behaviour and I have lived through it: from the "low end of the scale" ghoster, the Donald Downer who just puts you down every chance they get, the “you’re a psycho, I'm not cheating on you” but actually I am guy, the love bombing narcissistic gas lighter, right to the verbally/mentally abusive and so many more.
15 years of thinking I was never good enough for someone to love. 15 years of allowing myself to be treated like I was a no one because if I wasn't good enough to marry - what would I be good for. 15 years of attracting people into my life that reflected how I thought about myself.
I remember the day that all changed for me. I was sitting on the floor in my room, packing and heading to bed. I was so excited because the next day I was getting on a plane to go somewhere fantastic. It had been over a week since I heard from this guy when he text me at eleven at night because he needed someone to talk to. I remember him saying before that no one was ever there for him when he needed people or needed to talk so I called him. He started talking about how his heart was hurting and he wasn't in a great headspace and something bad might happen. We had discussed this on several other occasions and I always listened. I always offered words of support and encouragement before - assured him it wasn't about him and that everything will be alright. Tonight was different, I started to talk about therapy and speaking to a professional because we've discussed this before. I tried to make it sound like it was coming from a loving space because I knew it wouldn't be received well. At that point I wasn't sure how I could continue to help him and it was a repeating conversation. I felt like what I had said in the past wasn't working so I suggested moving it to the next level and getting professional help.
Something switched in him to - I had seen this before as well. He went from a soft spoken, desperate tone to an angry and aggressive language and tone. How dare I suggest that, how dare I think that he needs professional support. How dare I not listen to him and try to make him feel better. So many other "how dare yous" came out of his mouth but I stopped listening because I had heard it for the past year. I let him rant and when he was finished and "calm" I got off the phone and for the first time after a conversation like that I was angry.
Angry that he ruined my holiday vibe, angry that I was continually verbally beat down, and angry about so many things. For the first time I felt like I didn't deserve that. It was like a switched was flicked to a different setting - the "I'm not taking yours or anyone else's shit anymore" setting. My memory was flooded with interactions with boys over the years of how things went down. All these different scenarios that were actually the same. Time just kept rolling back and where I thought my lack of self-love started wasn't actually the beginning. The beginning was in my parents basement, on that couch, after graduation.
I found my power that night and I made my first step in taking it back. I only spoke to that guy one more time - a month later. Things were made clear in that interaction that whatever was going on was over.
I've spent time since that interaction analyzing moments in my life that my brain still clings onto. There's power in words, spoke by others to you or spoken to yourself about you, that you may not know until later. They build the foundation for your inner saboteur to stand on and build a strong house - a strong empty house so the words will echo. You get stuck in that house - metaphorically becoming agoraphobic to the world without those sentences being played in your mind. An irrational fear that you can't become anything else then what those people thought of you or how they viewed something you did. Subconsciously (or consciously) those words are playing on repeat while you make life choices.
That day one the floor the words of "I can see myself marrying you, but since you won’t sleep with me it’s over” no longer existed. That day I chose to put me first when it comes to the start of relationships, romantic or not. If someone or something isn't adding value to my life - why stick it out? Why go through the motions of having something stick around for weeks or months or a year before you finally decide to give up the "hope" that it can turn into something you want or need in your life.
For now, I'm working on redrafting the narrative, the words that repeat in my mind when certain situations appear. It's going to take sometime to work through over 30 years of memories, but I'm in it for the long haul because I now believe I'm worth it. I'm getting quite the list and one of my favourites is the voice of RuPaul saying, "if they ain't paying your bills, pay them bitches no mind." ✌🏻