She was torn between desperately seeking the stability and love she’d never known and enjoying her relatively new freedom. She was seeking her own identity, uncomfortable and unsure in her own skin and never quite sure why she warranted so much attention and certainly not at all sure how to handle such attention politely, without hurting anyone’s feelings. It’s not that she had not been told she was beautiful by boys and men before or wanted by many, it was that she literally could not see that or comprehend the possibility. She was a dry sponge full of holes, seeking all the love and attention she had never felt before. She certainly wasn’t a slut in any sexually promiscuous sense, but perhaps she did fit the description of an attention whore. She couldn’t understand how anyone could love her or think her beautiful in any definition of the word. In spite of her need for freedom, she longed with every part of her being to feel loved and to believe she was beautiful in someone’s eyes…to feel accepted just as she was, flaws and holes and all…
Unfortunately, she felt the closest to beautiful and worthy when she was making other people feel good about themselves and this would eventually be her slow demise in satisfying her own deepest hopes, but that’s another story entirely. There was a supply and demand in effect seemingly at all times. Men longed for her attention and she longed to make people feel good. She could spend hours talking to a stranger in a club about his job, his school, his relationships, his dreams, his broken heart, anything…and treat him as if he was the only person on the planet for the duration of that conversation…often to the annoyance of her friends and/or boyfriends.
By her early twenties, she had ended two significant relationships. The relationships themselves weren’t bad per se, but she was a lost and meandering spirit. It was almost as if once the relationship reached a mutually satisfying point, she felt her “work there was done” and her attention needed to go to the next soul seeking her heart, time, and attention. So after ending two serious LTR’s, which did not go quietly, she finally conceded to her long-subdued need for freedom and her completely suppressed wild at heart nature… She dreaded the thought of committing to a relationship with a man because it seemed somehow to always eventually end with a hurt man and her feeling as though her effort to make someone feel loved and important always began with the best of intentions and resulted in their broken heart. This was not at all what she wanted.
So after ending an engagement with a terrific man who loved her in the most beautifully endearing and devoted way and running straight into the arms of an abuser, she resolved to stay free. In her partying and carousing with friends she only gave a few hours of dedication to anyone and moved on to someone else…until she inadvertently and unintentionally met John. Strange that she’d caught him watching her quietly on many occasions and took note of him. She found him truly handsome in the most adorable boy-next-door way, but he never approached except nonchalantly in passing. After several of these incidents, they finally had an actual conversation. He was so damned likeable and undeniably adorable. She loved his eyes – the way they watched her quietly without attempting to connect with her or pick her up (ugh!) and she loved the way he innocently made her laugh without even trying. She spent several platonic evenings with him, just partying and having fun.
Since this started innocently enough, she felt no warnings that trouble was brewing. They were both having a blast and neither seemed intent upon choking the other’s freedom, but they enjoyed their time together so much each day would follow into the next. She even discovered that he was a few years younger than she and it didn’t matter at all to her. He wasn’t even jealous of her flirty personalityand he gave her total trust and freedom!!!! She loved this. Could it be he actually understood her? It seemed natural that suddenly one day she realized that their affections had grown big and they were spending all of their free time together…and she didn’t even want to change that or run from it…were they falling in love?
Yes, it seemed so. This realization hit when she received acceptance to the school she’d applied to upon her last release from a relationship. She had applied in a moment of freedom and need to not be held back from her goals again…a brief respite between obligations. But against her design and intention, he was now in love and she loved him in return as well. Uh-oh..scary, as this never ended well for her. Always seemed to end in a flurry of anger, broken hearts and her immersion in guilt which provoked a need in her to run far, far away.
It was a difficult situation, but they were young, confident with one another, and happy…therefore this could still work. Right? No one had to get hurt this time. Long distance relationships could work for truly happy couples. Besides, she just wanted to go finish her education at the school of her choosing, not date around or get involved in any relationships. This should be easy.
They missed each other terribly, though. The connection was difficult to maintain from such a distance. And she was immersed in the collegiate life while he was in the town he grew up in and working the job he intended to work forever. She wasn’t dating anyone else, but she had a few study friends whom she enjoyed hanging out with as well. They had little in common under these circumstances and their phone calls started feeling like a “duty” to her, not an enjoyment. He planned a visit.
On this visit, he mentioned shopping for a promise ring to cement their relationship and their desire to progress into the next natural step for a happy couple. Except, his visit, his presence, annoyed her. She didn’t know why. She still loved him. She just couldn’t feel or find that connection to him anymore once she was removed from their little shared town, at least not enough to accept a promise ring or in good conscience, continue the relationship that was stunted for her and clearly still growing stronger for him. After a few days of his visit, she discussed this with him and ended the relationship. She felt sick to do this, she adored him, but she felt it was the right thing to do in the midst of her confusion confounded and highlighted by his devoted certainty. It was over. He left. She could tell he was very hurt and she hated that, but he didn’t seem angry and for that, she was so grateful that it almost sparked her feelings again…but not quite enough to change her choice in the matter. She had to be fair to him. He deserved at least that and her conscience refused to accept less for him.
Fast forward five or six years.
Back in their hometown for a few years now, she was a single mother, scared and still lost. One night she runs into him at a bar. They start talking and reconnecting. Inside she is scared and far more damaged than she was years before. In her loneliness and fear, he represents something good and safe to her. She decides to go home with him. After all, it’s John Boy. The safest place she’d known at this point. He’d never gotten angry at her for who she was. On the contrary, he had always seemed to understand her when no one else could. Ahhhhhh…safety and sincerity.
When they woke up the next morning, she felt happy to be next to him. No it wasn’t the answer to everything of course, but it was a safe and familiar place at last and she had always adored him anyway.
As he was driving her home, he said, “I don’t want you. I just wanted to pay you back for breaking my heart all those years ago…. How does it feel?” Her heart ripped as he laughed.
Well done John Boy…very cruel effective.