The One That Got Away

I’ve said numerous times, in a sort of humorous way, that most all of my previous boyfriends are dead with the exception of one, and he’s the only one I wish was.   Dead, that is.  And it’s really not funny.

 But actually, that’s not entirely true.  My first boyfriend, whom I do still consider my “first love” is still alive and I’m happy he is.  He’s not the one I wish was dead.  He was a good guy.  I “went” with him when I was in eighth grade, I believe, and he was a sophomore.  He was two years older than me.   I broke up  with  him after a year or so and he soon took up with a senior; a girl who was supposedly very experienced in certain areas.  Except he still called me constantly.  I consider him my “first love” in a nostalgic way because he really was the first guy that I really liked and I did really care for him.   We had a blast together and he was so nice – and so nice to me.  He had his driver’s license, but I could not go anywhere in a car with him, so every morning before school, he drove his car to my parent’s home, unloaded his bike, waited for me to finish breakfast with my family, and then he and I walked to school.  He pushing his bike, and me carrying my books.   He eventually broke up with the experienced girl and went with numerous others, yet continued to call me the entire time I was in school.  I have very fond memories of that innocent time and relationship and am glad it is such a happy memory for me.  We eventually lost all contact, but years later, living two hours away from my hometown, I was a social worker for a preschool and was making home visits.  I had met the child whose home I would be visiting that day, and as I got to his home, and headed up the walk to their front door, it opened and there he stood.  My boyfriend from the 8th grade.  He said my name, as if it were a question.  I stood on the sidewalk staring at him.  He asked me why I was there and when I told him, he invited me in.   He had a house full of kids and a wife watching a soap opera. 

 Let’s jump to my college years, shall we?  I met him soon after we both arrived for our freshman year.  And from that point on, through many trials, tribulations and a breakup, we remained together for five years and were actually very proud of that fact.  That we had stayed together through thick and thin for a long time, had each changed but still loved each other, we felt was an accomplishment.  And even though I was still a mixed up, immature and unaware young woman and he had his own not necessarily healthy habits, neither of us had any doubt we would stay together and we were committed.  Then I answered the doorbell early one morning to two people standing on my front stoop taking steps toward me as they said, “there’s been an accident”.  He died in a car wreck.  That was a hard one for me.  A very hard one.  It was the 25th anniversary of his death a couple of years or more ago. 

 Then the next serious relationship lasted about two years.  He was very sweet, very nice and very devoted to me.  But he had his problems and issues, and I obviously had mine, and together we had many.  But we had many many fun and good times.  Too much fun.  And I needed it to stop.  So I left town, he followed, we tried to make another go at it because I hated hurting his feelings but I finally had to.  And I did.  Hurt his feelings.   Big time.  Lots of drama and half-hearted stalking (not the scary, mean kind, but the “can’t let go “ kind).  And then he died weeks after our last  and final run-in.  I did tell myself it was not my fault, but don’t ever think I actually believed it.

 Then a year later, the next relationship. This person pursued me because he saw a very vulnerable young woman who was fairly lost, insecure and had been through a lot and he wined and dined me with money he didn’t have and he romanced me with his charming, yet egotistical and narcissistic ways, of which he had lots.  This one was obviously a huge and stupid mistake on my part and so six months after I broke it off with him, I was not glad, but not sad when a girlfriend called to tell me he had died.  Suffocated after a drunken bender.  Oh, I was sad that there are people out there who are “like that” and believe their own bs and drink until they die, but I was not sad that this person was unable to prey on vulnerable young women any more.  I wasn’t the first and am sure I wasn’t the last.  Period.  End of story.  This story, at least.

 Then many years passed and I got married and had my two wonderful, wonderful sons.  And then years later, my husband died.  And since my husband was my sons’ father, I don’t want to go into too many details out of respect for my sons.  The point is, for this piece, is that he has passed away. 

 Unfortunately, this isn’t the end of my story of my past relationships.  I wish it was.  This is the one I wish I had never happened.  The disaster relationship that happened between my “first love” in eighth grade and my “soul mate” in college.  That would put this one during my high school years.  I was a cheerleader.  I was also the daughter of a raging alcoholic and was going to school each day amidst a world of problems at home and after nights of drunken rages and screaming.  So I was very insecure, not the least bit confident and basically very very easily led.  I didn’t know him prior to friends setting me up with him.  He was my age and played sports with the boyfriends of my two girlfriends.  I basically “went with” him because I guess I thought I was supposed to.  Actually, in retrospect, in hindsight that is so illuminating, I can see that not only did I not even like this person, we had absolutely nothing in common.  I was bookish, shy and needy.  He was boorish, egotistical, chauvinistic and chunky.  As in fat.  And not good-looking.  This should have been a very clear sign for me, that I was not making decisions for myself but rather, was letting other people and pressures influence me, because I was very into “looks”.  In any case, a healthy confident “me” would not have been attracted to him and frankly, I wasn’t.  He was also the football and basketball star.  I can’t remember the first time he slapped me.  But I remember being stunned – and afraid.  And I also remember the pools of tears that immediately formed in my eyes.  And I remember thinking, “what the hell?”.  The slapping escalated to hitting.  And then hair-pulling.  Shoving.  Choking.  And more slapping.  Bloody noses.  Bruises on my forehead and arms and legs.  But the most damage was on my self-esteem.  I went from dealing with an alcoholic father at home in the evenings to a pathologically jealous monster who beat the hell out of me just to let me know “who was in charge” during the day.  This was when I began to look down when I walked.  Because if I looked up, I might see some guy and if he saw me looking at some guy, I got pinched really hard during school and warned of what was going to happen after school and then I got hit after school.  I came to live in a state of fear.  And since my self-esteem was shattered at this point, I amazingly let it go on for over a year.  My parents had big, big problems of their own and couldn’t handle one more.  This guy made the kick at the football game that propelled our little team into the State Finals for the first time in years, so I didn’t think anyone would believe me or it would cause a bigger deal than I could handle at that point. I didn’t want to be the one who rained on the entire town’s parade.  And quite frankly, I was embarrassed; too humiliated to say anything to anyone.  I felt something was wrong with me for someone to want to hit me.  My parents didn’t even hardly spank us, much less hit us.  Some people knew it; some people witnessed it.  I always wondered why his parents never did anything, because some of these beatings went on while we were in his bedroom of their home and I just knew that they must have heard it.  And then he dumped me for the daughter of our school principal.  I was devastated.  Literally.  He treated me like I was nothing, and now I had nothing.  But the worst injustice and the reason for my devastation was that I knew no one would believe me now, because now he was tight with the principal’s family, and the principal had a fair amount of influence, and everyone would just say I was accusing him of something terrible because he broke up with me.  But I wouldn’t have been.  I just wasn’t strong enough to say I was a young woman who allowed herself to be beat up almost daily for over a year and never spoke up about it.  I do know there were a couple of teachers that knew it because they used to always pull me aside and ask if I “was okay”.  And they would ask me about the bruises and when I would tell them some lame excuse of how I got them, they would just stare at me like they didn’t believe me but didn’t quite know what to do about it either.  And one of them died of cancer and the other moved away.  Eventually, I went on to college and tried to continue on with my life.  Readers might wonder why I didn’t just leave him or tell someone, but unless you are in a situation like this, you have no idea of how it unfolds and the different emotions a woman feels while dealing with an abusive relationship.  Her self esteem plummets and she feels she has no one and nothing, and if she doesn’t have him, even abusing her, then she has nothing.  Also, because of the constant depression, worry and fear, she isn’t thinking rationally and it’s hard to summon up the confidence to speak up for herself.  One day I did leave school early, because I was afraid of a threat he made to me that was going to happen after school.  I told the school nurse I was ill, and when I was supposed to be waiting on a parent to pick me up, I just left the school and started walking home.  He saw me from his classroom, and soon I heard a car driving slowly behind me as I walked.  It was him and he asked me what I thought I was doing.  I said I was walking home and to leave me alone or I would hit him with my flute case.  He just stopped car before I knew what was happening, got out and grabbed the flute case out of my hand and grabbed me by the arm and hustled me to the car and shoved me in.   No one in the nearby homes I guess saw us and if they did, no one wanted to get involved.  This is another reason women find it hard to get away from abusive men.  They are much bigger and much faster and the people who do happen to suspect it or possibly witness it don’t always act like they want to get involved .  Also, research show that men who choke women have a greater probability of eventually killing that woman than men who do not choke.  I have to include this one more thing because it is so typical of men who beat women.  Amazingly,  after my fiancé died in college, and I returned to my hometown, this guy went around town telling everyone who would stand around long enough to listen, that my parents were trying to get him to contact me again in hopes of a reconciliation.  I think my mother wanted to beat him up after she heard that and she’s a pacifist.

 So, he’s the one that got away.  Has cheated death so far.  The one who is still living.  The one whom I wished had died, but hasn’t.

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