Saturday, February 23, 2008

Young Love

Many of you have had "that" boyfriend (or girlfriend) at least once in your life. I'm talking about the guy who you habitually treats you like you're garbage, but you keep eating it up, so he continues. And even though on some level you know you deserve better, and your friends hate him, you remain fiercely loyal, because you're the only one who understands him. You're sure that with enough love and dedication, you will change him. Suddenly one day, he'll notice your devotion and unwavering commitment and will turn into the prince you always knew he was, and you will live happily ever after. So what if it takes years to get there; it would be worth it. You can tell, because sometimes he is just so sweet and thoughtful. And sometimes he feels so bad about being a jerk that he actually cries, tells you he doesn't deserve you, and asks you to forgive him. (Yes, he might be wasted when he says those things, but that's the only way he can show his true feelings, right?) That kind of stuff is really reinforcing.

I had that boyfriend on and off (mostly on) from the age of 15 to 21. I was the classic daughter-of-an-alcoholic; couldn't fix Daddy, but repeated the pattern of trying in my teen years, out of habit. My guy was short, stocky, and muscly. He had a Sylvester Stallone quality to him (and S.S. was HOT in those days), and one look at him melted my heart and sent the butterflies into loft. I just knew that he loved me, even though he could never say it outright. (He was cute about it; he would say "ILY" instead.) He really was good for me, I knew, even if it didn't feel good sometimes. Like the time we "played" a punch game in which we punched each other in the shoulders back and forth. He couldn't help it that he didn't know his own body-building strength and caused massive black and blue marks on both of my arms for weeks. It really was my own fault; I should have stopped the game when he said, "You're asking for it."

And so what if he didn't take me out with him very often; he always came by and beeped the horn around 12:30am or so, on his way home, and waited for me to jump in his car to go to his house. He just missed me that much and wanted to cuddle; didn't that mean something?!

My guy had my best interests in mind. For example, he never wanted me to look too good at school, because he wanted to protect me from other guys who might take advantage of me. The movie "Ten" was out at that time, with Bo Derrick, and I remember him asking me what I thought I was on a scale of 1 to 10. Unsure, I offered, "I don't know...maybe a six?" He replied with a scoff, "You are a four and no higher, and don't forget it." He really helped me keep proper perspective on things like that.

Obviously, I did not end up with this guy. (The ending is another story.) I never got complete closure in this relationship. If I could, I would ask a lot of questions. I would also apologize for being such a codependent, sick little girl, because I know that I played a role in reinforcing his behavior, even though I didn't understand that at the time. After all, he, too, was a developing young man, finding his way in life, and I contributed to our unhealthy relationship. Mostly, I would like to thank him. Honestly; I would thank him for being so elusive emotionally, because if he hadn't been, we could have gotten married, and my life would have gone down an entirely different path. Instead, he joined the military, and in his absence, I decided to go to college.

The geographic distance created by his absence caused a loosening of the emotional grip that my boyfriend had on my young self. For the first time in my young adult life, I became able to experience life without the filter he had become up to then. Case in point, at school, guys were really nice to me. I got asked out more than a few times and began to think, "Maybe I really am not a four." My eyes began to open...

(Tune in tomorrow for the rest of the story...)


  1. Boy, I waited till part two to comment, but this story really deserves separate comments! I never knew that the most confident sister of us 5 sisters (as I saw it way back when) shared the same deep insecurities a lot of us had, and it is rather scary to imagine what could have happened instead of your wonderful life now! :0 What if old boyfriend hadn't joined the service? So many what ifs, but thank God Mark was a persistent guy! My hubby was too, but he sure didn't have to be for as long as Mark did. :0 Thanks for sharing this!

  2. Oops, I started to put my name, then accidentally clicked a wrong key! I didn't mean to be anonymous!

  3. Yes, I think we each had our experiences with poor choices of men. Luckily, we've all ended up with the right ones!


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