I’ve mentioned here before that I’m working on a book with a fellow writer, Gina. Slowly, but surely, we are working through our draft. While I won’t bog you down with all of the details, I thought my part of the “introduction” would be worth sharing, just to give you a taste of my story.
His name was Andy. He was the cutest boy in my second grade class, and I was determined to make him mine.
To do so, I placed a metal ring, painted gold, into my wooden cubby before school one morning. The note attached to it read simply, “From Andy.” When Andy arrived at school, I skipped over to him, sporting the oh-so-glamorous ring, and thanked him for it.
“I gave you that?” he asked.
“Well it said ‘From Andy’,” I replied.
And that settled it. He was my boyfriend.
Even at 7 years old, I had the guts to go out there and snag the man I wanted. But even at 7, I was okay with knowing that it was a lie that got me the guy.
Twenty years and a college degree later, I’ve often found myself in relationships that were built on lies. Unfortunately, those lies run deeper than a ring from a plastic bubble machine.
About 10 years after my fling with Andy, I had my first actual boyfriend, who I shared my first kiss with. It was just a few months after my parents divorced, leaving me with my mother, whom I barely knew.
Patrick, my boyfriend, was a hockey player and popular at school. I felt on top of the world. One night, he even made a heart out of bark on my front doorstep; 24 hours later, he dumped me, saying our relationship wasn’t moving forward physically.
When he jumped right into a relationship with the school slut, I took my anger out by hooking up with nearly the entire basketball team. I don’t know if I was really mad at Pat, or mad about my parents’ divorce, or just mad at the world. In any case, I still ended up hurt and alone.
I have never wanted to be the girl who blames her parents, or her past, for the troubles that still plague me today. However, I’m slowing admitting that we only know what we see and what we’ve felt, and I’ve got some twisted memories.
Despite dating my best friend, a drug addict, a bartender, a pathological liar, a college student, the punk rock kid, my next door neighbor, a personal trainer, a waiter, the guy in the band, and got cheated on by most of them, there remains threads of hope in my heart.
Often, I don’t know where they come from, because the data shows that I should’ve given up by now. But although I always tell myself, and those around me, that I just want to “focus on my career,” I know that I am still waiting to experience true, honest love.
Of course, my dreams about love have changed over the years. Perhaps I’m more cynical, or just a little more real. Now, I am trying to approach my life in a different way. I know that it’s time to put me first, so that one day, I can let someone in to enjoy the real me. That’s the person that’s been lost for 10 years.
Some days, I wonder if this is it. In 10, 15, 20 years, will I wakeup alone, pack my lunch, head to the office, hit the gym, and then eat dinner watching The Bachelorette? In those moments of wonder, that’s when I know I can’t deny my want for love, for a true partner, to spend my nights with — even if we are watching trashy reality television.
Sometimes I may feel alone, but I know I’m not the only one thinking this way, which brings me to writing this book. I can’t tell you a fairytale about love coming true. But I can tell you that I’ve been lied to, cheated on, and even ignored, but the sun still rises with hope in sight.
The 7-year-old me would have concocted a brilliant story of how she’d meet her husband, but in that story I would’ve been a married mom by now. Love isn’t a highway, a math equation, or a recipe.
When the road gets rocky, my hope comes from stories; real stories about crazy love gone wrong, then turning right again. In those moments I know that one day, things will turn right for me, too.
It is my wish, now and 20 years from now, that stories like this will build hope in the hearts of women. Because no one has all the answers, but we know what we’ve been through, and with each experience, we’re laying the bricks for our road to turn right.