I first found myself, 2 and a half years ago. In the living room, with my headphones in, I sobbed for over an hour, and Josh didn't notice. He was on the computer. Same room, but facing a separate direction. I sobbed because I realized I was so much more than I had been, because I was filled with hope, and because I felt trapped. I spent the next two years in a constant back-and-forth. I would begin to work hard on improving myself and my life, and Josh would tell me he didn't think I would succeed. So I would stop trying. And I began to build this box, that I would fit myself into. This cage that I decorated, to try and talk myself into staying. And then after a few months, I'd get sick of the damned box, so I would begin to work on myself again. And Josh would tell me again he didn't think I would succeed. And I would stop trying.
When I say he would tell me he didn't think I would succeed, I'm not mincing words. I mean that very plainly, those words would exit his mouth. We would lay in bed, facing opposite directions, and I would cry. I would cry, and ask him why he never believed in me. And he would tell me it was because I never succeeded.
Every little girl dreams of attending a wedding, and slow dancing with a boy. And catching the bouquet, and having the time of her life. The first wedding we went to, I was 19, and my cousin was getting married. He refused to dance with me. Slow dance. He outright refused. I cried. We left early. Every wedding after that, he refused. He convinced me to not go to several weddings, by doing nothing but whining and complaining for the entire week leading up to it. He would run me ragged with his complaints and eventually I would give in. I'd rather not go, and experience him refusing to dance, and him simultaneously pouting about wanting to leave, than go.
When we were with friends, after about an hour, he'd get a tight-lipped smile on his face, and look at me, and look at the door, and look back at me. And that was my cue. The second he would do that, my heart would drop. I had two choices in that instance. Leave with him, or put up with his constant bothering of me to leave until I was ready to go. By the end of our relationship, I just stopped going out. It was easier than facing the thought of having to leave early or put up with his pouting.
Don't even get me started on when I discovered karaoke, and he would not even attempt to hide his contempt for being there.
It was impossible for me to go anywhere with him, without him being plugged into his phone. Even on dates, which he stopped bothering to do after like, 3 years. When we would sit on the couch together and watch a show, he was on his phone. When we were out to eat, he was on his phone. We had all important conversations over the phone. Arguments. Breakups. Eventually I retreated into the wide world of the internet, because what the hell else was I supposed to do?
My mom says I treated Josh like a child. She said to me yesterday, "I hope you are nicer to this new guy!" And I know she's right, I did treat him like a child at times. He acted like a child. I can compare him to Annabelle, who is 6, in many ways. He would pout when having to do something he didn't want to do. He was selfish. If he had to wait for something he wanted, he would make my life a living hell. Hell, he wouldn't even get me off. Or, I should say, he would, but he would pout about it. It took too long. And he didn't enjoy it, and he made it very clear that he didn't enjoy it and he only did it so that he could get sex. So the last two years we were together, I stopped asking for it. And he stopped giving it. I went an entire year with him not getting me off at all. Better that than being made to feel guilty for asking for it.
When its quiet in my head, I let myself run through the relationship, and I wonder if I even loved him? I mean, how could I? I feel like the last five years of my life at least, were spent just trying to run away. Trying to find reasons to run away, but coming back because I was afraid. Afraid of being alone, afraid I was too ugly to love. How could I love someone who hated it when I laughed? Or when I whistled, sang, danced, or hummed? Who hated pleasing me? Who didn't even know if he wanted me?
When Josh and I finally got together, it was because he gave up on his long distance relationship. It was too hard. And I was there, and throwing myself at him. I was the easy choice. And he never once denied that was why he "picked" me. That followed me the entire relationship. It ate away at me. It killed me. Three years into our relationship, he was cheating on me. Sexting a mutual friend of ours. He turned that around on me, and broke up with me. And then a few days later changed his mind. Then a year later, he didn't know if he wanted to be with me, didn't know if he wanted to move in with me. He asked me to stop talking to him for a week, so he could make up his mind. After we moved in together, our second Christmas, he decided again that he wasn't sure he wanted to be with me. So I moved out for two weeks so that he could make up his mind.
Every couple of years or so, a boy would fall for me, or want to bang me, or something, and I'd deal with his insane jealousy over it, and I would come right back to that whole he didn't even want me corner of my brain. O'Malley, Brian, Jeff, like the same record playing over and over and over. I would knock myself down and tell myself it was because I had a vagina and was around. After all, that's why Josh picked me. I would sever ties and cry over friendships lost so that he would stop being jealous and complaining. Eventually I just gave up on everything about me and hid myself from the entire world.
Thank god for GEICO. GEICO is chalk full of successful men looking to further their lives and careers, and Josh was so jealous, all the time. I suppose he had a reason to be. GEICO showed me that I can persevere and be successful. At GEICO, I laughed so hard with a man that I cried, and that night I thought to myself, I hadn't laughed like that in years, and the last time I did, Josh got pissed about it, because it annoyed him. I broke up with him a week later. But I strongly believe that GEICO introduced me to myself again, and the self confidence and self love I was able to gain through GEICO gave me the courage to leave Josh. Sure, the first, time I went back. I was afraid of being alone. But I never went back, not really. When I broke up with him again, he knew it was coming. He avoided it. I told him we needed to sit down and talk, and he told me no and went to the grocery store instead. I told him when he got back we needed to talk, and he told me no and went for a walk. When he got back from that, I told him we needed to break up and he said okay. I told him he could have the couch, and he told me I could have the dog. And we went about our day, and I later went to work.
I'm sure in the beginning, I loved him. Or I was infatuated with him. But I think after that third year, when he cheated, and we broke up. I don't think I ever approached our relationship the same way. I know that I tried. I tried to convince myself it was what I wanted. I moved in with him for that excitement. I made him food and did his laundry. I rolled over in the middle of the night so that he could fuck me. I got on top of him 95% of the time so he didn't have to do any work. But I remember changing his rotten pillow case and thinking to myself "Is this what I want to do with the rest of my life?" I remember feeling this horrible sense of dread when I first encountered that quote:
"True hell: the last day you have on earth, the person you became will meet the person you could have become."
And every time I thought about it after that. I would shove it deep down and ignore it. Until after I broke up with Josh, about a week after, I remembered the quote, and relief hit me like a train. I didn't dread my future anymore. I didn't dread not becoming who I'm meant to become anymore.
It didn't take long after the breakup for me to have that epiphany. That moment where I realized I'd been trying to shove myself in a box, and I said never again. And I mean it. I've experienced myself alone, and I'm happy with it. I know that I am strong, and driven, and fantastic, and if someone doesn't think that, then I don't need them. And if someone doesn't love me right, then I can love myself without them. I'm pleased that I've come this far, but sad when I reflect, on how long I put myself through it all.
Wanna know my biggest secret?
I brought home the fish tank to piss him off.