“I Love You”
I met my girlfriend during a really bad time in my life. I had just turned 17 and my mom had kicked me out. I had dropped out of school and moved in with one of my aunts and her two teenage daughters. At about that same time I had decided to come out to my family and the older of the two daughters said she knew the perfect girl for me, her best friend.
We met in May, I had just turned 17 and she had not yet turned 16. That summer felt like something out of a movie. We were young but we took things slow, just going to the movies, talking on the phone, hanging out at lunch, that sort of thing. It was wonderful. I pretty much loved her from the very beginning. That August I got up the courage to ask her, over the phone, in the most awkward way possible, if she would be my girlfriend. She laughed at me and said yes and that was the happiest moment of my life, up until then.
I had been with other girls before her, but nothing like a real grown up relationship. In order to protect our pride we both pretended like this was nothing, we didn’t want love and we did nothing that resembled intimacy. Our feelings got away from us though, and shortly after midnight on New Years Day, 2003, she told me that she loved me. That night we held each other and fell asleep in each other’s arms for the first time.
“I Treat You Like This Because You Let Me”
Fast forward a few years, we’re living together and the stress of bills and the pressure of trying to be grown ups was taking its toll. I wasn’t measuring up to her ideas of what a girlfriend should be. In all honesty I was failing miserably. My emotional crap was coming to the surface and she was taking care of me. Her emotional crap was coming to the surface and she was taking it out on me. Our fights would start over the the smallest, pettiest things and last for hours. She would yell and say mean things she didn’t mean and I would cry and ask her to stop, to just comfort me. She always pushed me further away though, and told me to stop being a victim. Everything changed when one night, during one of our frequent late night fights, I was crying in the doorway of our bedroom, asking her why she was so mean to me, why was she treating me like this? She looked me in the eye and told me she treated me that way because I let her. I changed that night and I decided to start fighting fire with fire.
“I Seem Strong on the Outside, But Deep Down I’m Fragile”
After that I got mean. I stopped caring and said all the mean things I thought every time we fought. This wasn’t me though and I started to feel so much guilt and I hated who I was becoming. I decided I couldn’t live like that anymore and sat her down one evening to tell her this wasn’t working. She cried and we agreed to take a break but the intention was to work on things and rebuild our relationship. And then the worst thing happened…..a friend of mine started making me feel better then she did. Unknowingly, and unintentionally, I started having an emotional affair. She found out about it and we fought like never before. She told me not to come home….
For over a year after that I felt confused about which direction to head, whether I stay with her or go? And during that time I watched her emotional state deteriorate. She had always been so strong but to see her break down and cry in front of me, I knew there was a side of her that was vulnerable and sad. I loved her so much then….I had thought she didn’t love me, that she didn’t care about me at all, but she did, maybe she just never knew how to show it. I realized that the whole time our relationship had been falling apart I had stood up on my high horse and thought myself the innocent one. I wasn’t though, she needed me to help her too, to show her how to be open and vulnerable because without that we couldn’t truly understand and love each other.
We fought a lot then, almost daily, and one night, both of us sitting on the hallway floor, emotionally exhausted, she told me that all that time she had tried to be so strong, but deep down she was fragile. For her to admit that to me, I knew that she not only loved me very deeply, but that I had also hurt her very deeply. I knew then I wanted to be with her. I wanted to work things out and do everything I could to get us back to where we had been before, young and so in love.
“I Thought You Were Perfect”
I had messed up so much, I thought there was no way I could fix things. Hell I had even made some mistakes more than once! I told her she was the one I wanted, I begged her to take me back and she agreed. It was a hard road though, and I fucked up a lot along the way. She didn’t trust me and nothing I did was right. At first I didn’t understand, if she loved me, why couldn’t things go back to the way they were?
One day we were talking about it and she told me the reason. The years before the break up I had always just been her girl and I had always done the right thing. The years when we were apart, I had hurt her so badly that her whole view of me had changed. I was no longer perfect in her eyes. Hearing that from her hurt so badly, even though I deserved it. Someone had loved me and thought I was the most perfect thing, and I had fucked that all up. I was no longer good and all the bad things I had thought about myself were true. I was a bad person……
“Maybe I’m Not The Right Person For You”
I kept trying though. Working everyday to show her that I really did want her and only her. We talked a lot and we realized that we were both to blame for our relationship falling apart. She saw things from my perspective and knew that she had not treated me well. I was still hurt by things she had said to me during those fights and I was afraid of becoming an emotional punching bag again. When we fought I panicked, thinking she would go back to basically hating me again. I was so scared to upset her that she started to think maybe we could never come back from things we had said to each other. Too much damage had been done.
She ask me again and again if maybe was was not the right person for me. Maybe I did need to go find someone else who would love me the way I needed to be loved. I respond every time by telling her that she is the perfect person for me. See I understand that we had been so young and we had been trying to be what we thought a couple should be and neither of us was happy that way. We needed to just be us. We needed patience and communication and above all, acceptance, and those things take work, everyday.
“I Love You”
Things have been getting better and better and we have been closer than ever. I strive everyday to let her know how much I love her and that I am her partner in everything we do. She does her best to show me that she loves me too and she cares about my feelings and respects me. We are getting back on track and figuring out what we want, not what we should want. As corny as it sounds communication really is key. Lots of talking, lots, and lots of talking. It sounds tiring but the reward is being in a relationship with someone who truly is your best friend. At first it was hard but slowly we both, mostly me, learned to let go of our embarrassment and fear and to just tell the other how we really felt and what we really thought. We both also learned how to listen and accept the other persons feelings. We aren’t perfect and we still slip back into bad ha it’s sometimes but we just keep trying and the effort is enough.
Last spring I began planning to propose. It was hard finding a ring and buying it without her knowing. I worked with an artist on Etsy and ended up with a beautiful, custom ring with an 8 ct. raw sapphire, her favorite. I decided to pop the question on the anniversary of the day I asked her to be my girlfriend, August 18th.
We decided to get a hotel room and spend the weekend downtown. We went to dinner that night and I won’t tell the whole story here but she said yes and it was the happiest moment of my life! Almost 12 years after we first met we are finally getting married but honestly, in my heart I know we have already been married for a long time and we have already loved each other “for better or for worse”.
I think maybe now she might see me more the way she saw me before everything got so messed up. Not perfect, I know I will never be perfect like that to her again, but maybe a different kind of perfect, a more real kind of perfect. Before what she saw of me was an illusion but now she sees all of me and loves all of me, flaws and all. And that, I have learned, is what real love is.