Forever and Always

“I bend and bend until I break.”

Those words stuck with him. The first boy I loved was told that by the first girl he loved. I idolized them when we were friends, thinking that they really were perfect for each other. I was jealous of it until they fell apart. I had never had anything except hopeless dreams and fruitless crushes before that. And when he came to me to be mended, I thought I was the luckiest girl in the world. It was the first time someone had said “forever and always” and I believed it. And I believed in it with all of my heart for over a year. The first time he left was the first time I felt a pain in my chest and tears running endlessly down my face. My mom heard me crying out, she told me it’d be alright. Surely it was when he confessed his feelings the next morning. I was back to “forever and always” again. But it would later fall apart as first love so often does in it’s naivety and infancy. Someone else with the same sweet words found me but soon revealed that their true intention was to own me, not love me. I bent and broke. My first love found me again and ignited the fire that had died months before. “Forever and always”. The flame died out and we drifted apart, hurt but not lost like the first time. I was alright for awhile and other men had inspired the hopeless romantic in me, but in the end they would keep me at a distance. It made me bitter at first in my youthful desire for love but I would find that everything happens for a reason.

I found that my next “Forever and always” would be somewhat more tame. The pain I felt from harsh words and confusing nights would be heavy but not unbearable. I gave my all as I always do and I took him back each time, be it from another woman’s lips or a crippling argument on the ride home. Doubt grew in my stomach and left me with sleepless nights wondering “Why?”. When the roots took hold I finally said goodbye, sitting in this very spot as he was beside me. It became easier as the anger set it. I bent and I broke. Again I was picking up the pieces that I had morphed out of shape and snapped just to say I was a “good girl”. They would try to return again and leave me wondering: Why did you have to lose everything in order to change?

I don’t know how to be worth something unless I am lost.

This would be my life story.

“I should have never let you go.”

From the boy in my 9th grade music class who never plucked up the courage to ask me to prom to the boy who had years to be good to me, I would hear it. Aware of my flaws and broken nature I was left confused. I was convinced that I was inherently unable to make someone want to stay with me. For a long time and again in the future I would convince myself–as so many girls do–that I was lacking something. Why were my friends getting married and having children already? How did high school sweethearts turn into husband and wife? It seemed so dreamy and surreal. Unobtainable for someone like me. When I dated people, I felt like they already had a mold ready for me to squeeze into. I believed that I already fit inside of it in the beginning, but as time went on I felt the need to break my bones and stretch my skin to make them stay. My requests for them felt like too much and I would let my insecurity get the best of me. I know very well that I am not a perfect person. Too clingy, too jealous, too unsure of herself. I fought against my instincts even when they awoken those things in me. I struggled with whether I was just a difficult person or if they made me into a difficult person. It was always what they did and my reaction. My reaction was the problem. I blamed myself constantly. I did not question why I loved them despite all of their shortcomings, despite the fact that for every argument I began there were a hundred moments I pretended to be okay when I was actually hurt. I saw them move on to the next girl or the girl before me and I asked questions again. How could I be like her? What made her so perfect? Maybe she just fit the mold. Maybe no one has a mold jagged enough for me to fit into. Even a lost man whose mold was already filled came to me looking for answers. I heard him say good things about her and I was not jealous. I left a crack in his heart when I walked past the horizon. She would be the sun to rise. The light shone through the crack but did not mend it. I didn’t hear “Forever and always” for a long time.

I drifted and shrugged off those who said that they wanted a girl like me. That I’m the type of girl they would love to be with. I didn’t believe it. Had they seen me at 3 in the morning shaking with tears or 3 in the afternoon sending frantic texts, I knew they wouldn’t say that. They wanted a sad girl, a girl with just enough sorrow for them to scoop up and embrace. Just enough for them to feel bad for her, to feel the need to save them. They did not want rain or a flood. I was a hurricane.

But why? In times of elation, the storm was hidden inside. It was locked away and held back by promises and memories made in the spring. Hurtful words and the sight of someone else on their arm made the lock break. And I felt wrong for it. I often asked why I didn’t just stay quiet. Stay calm and good like the other girls did. But again I asked how could I not stay quiet? How do you not question someone spending the day flirting with one girl and the night whispering in your ear? How do you not erupt when you heard the words “You’re not what I want right now” or “Things were different with her”? A part of me still wishes I could be the passive girl. The tolerable one. But do they not get left too? They weren’t passionate enough or they weren’t exciting, or so they’d say. In my weak understanding of myself I thought it was strange that I was intimidated by the ex that they’d blown me off for the second week in a row. I thought that I was wrong. They reinforced it.

I felt alive again when he appeared. I payed little mind to it, focusing foolishly on an endeavor that would leave me bent and broken again. In a time when I felt alone and undesirable, he inspired me. It would be the most passionate relationship I ever experienced. But also the most painful to lose.

I handed all of myself over. Even in the midst of confusion I held hope deep in my heart. Never had I fought so hard for what I believed in. I wondered if anyone felt that way with me. I remained troubled in my ways of dealing with certain things. I took what he’d say and what he’d do and try to complete the equation in my head. It pushed me to my limits at times but I would fall gracefully back down again from the numbers floating above. It was “Forever and always” again. For real this time. Or so I felt like. In good times it was beyond amazing. I had never loved so hard before. But when the clouds came in and darkness set I was shaking in the chains of insecurity. At times I felt like I could give a man everything he wanted, except me. I had heard it before. Of course it’s what they wanted, but not from me or someone like me. I was always told “It’s not you, it’s me.” But I should have known better. I should have known that this heavy soul would crush anyone trying to hold it. I should have known that it’d take a long drive and a blizzard to make me finally say “I don’t believe in love anymore.”

Blurry eyes and a numb chest.

“I don’t believe in love.”

In the least I did not believe in it for me. In the broken glass of my own reflection I would lay bleeding. I heard their words again hours, weeks, months later.

“I need you”.

Lipstick stained necks and tearful nights.

“I should have never let you go.”

But they always did. And given the right time and place I gave them their chances. It hurt seeing who they went through after me. It hurt seeing the messages. It hurt to find out that they did not want me at 3 in the morning with tears. They wanted me at midnight, tipsy on infatuation and leaving everlasting promises on their skin. Who did I need to be? In times of my greatest triumph over my own moody nature, I would always be dragged back down.

“It’s not you, it’s me.”

So I would sit and watch the most promising “Forever and always” slip from my grasp. My hands grew weak. I didn’t know if I even wanted to reach for it again. I had never been promised so much, so inspired by someone. So parallel to them in our lives and our desires. I thought this was it. I thought I’d be joining the ranks of my friends who could proudly say that they found him. The one.

“Forever and always.”

Forever and always will I sit and blame myself more than need be. I would turn the pages of my entire life story wondering where I went wrong. In vast confusion I would tell myself that even the men who cheated or went back to their exes would eventually drift back to me. It was a sad time when even at the end of the night when they came home late I would tell myself: “At least he’s coming home to me.”.

But how long could I say things like this? In the waves of the ocean of love I would cling to something so dear and reduce my expectations again and again.

“At least he still loves me.”

“At least he still misses me.”

“At least he still likes me.”

“At least he’s not dating her.”

“At least we’re still friends.”

“At least he’s talking to me.”

“At least he replied.”

“At least he read it.”

It was an infectious ritual that I kept since my first love. A sick method of survival. Settling and settling until finally I bent and broke again. The spiral only ending when he found someone new and I couldn’t bear to see their happy faces anymore. But at times it would arise again, dragging me into the waves and drowning me with lies and empty promises.

“I should have never let you go.”

I believed in his gorgeous face. I had never been so infatuated with someone, so attracted to them and wishing to be their every need and pleasure. Almost every argument was out of love for him and my greatest desire was to be the girl he wanted to spend his life with, as he had said to me so many times before. I would allow no man to come close. Even in my numbing heart and blurry eyes it was always him. At the height of my emotions I was being torn apart by my self hatred and unconditional love for him, two claws pulling at my destroyed heart telling me that he is so worth it but only if you can survive this. Only if time and distance can heal your wounds so that perhaps this time it won’t take another girl or another season to make him see that you’re the girl he wants to be with. That perhaps it does take a life without you and your early morning “I love you” or your carefully placed kisses. I don’t know how to believe in the love I did before. I don’t know how to stop reading the messages over and over again as if they were the very source of the oxygen in my lungs.

I don’t know how to be worth something unless I am lost.

My heart is heavier than it has ever been. These shaky hands hover over the picture of our future, the one we painted together. I stare at the colors in somber silence. Your hands may wash over them for me in time.

It might be my last “Forever and always.”

It might be my time to be alone.

It might be anything, but heaven knows what I wanted it to be.

“I should have never let you go.”

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