4 years & counting...
by J. B.
Fair warning: This is going to get lengthy (if you want to get straight to the point, just read the 2nd to the last paragraph). I'm terrible at being concise & am known for being "chatty"/too talkative (Sorry). But I think this is going to feel good to get out...
It's been over 4 years since my ex-boyfriend left the Earth. I met him at 14 and fell in love very fast. He mostly liked to play hard-to-get, even long after we had been together, but apparently I must not have minded. Our 4 1/2 year relationship was filled with rather tumultuous ups & downs (that started after about the first year/year and a half).
He was a year older than me, and sometime around his high school graduation he broke down into tears about his mother's situation with cancer. He hid her disease from me for months and months (naturally, I was hurt he felt he couldn't share something like that w/ me since we'd been in a relationship w/ one another for over 3 years at that point)..he expressed fear with possibly losing his mother. I also noticed that a few months prior, when he was going to turn 18, he had a very negative/depressing outlook about it all (growing up, I think, was another fear).
Things got really rough between us during this year (his senior year)..he'd say he's "done" with me, call me horrible things, tell me anything he knew would make me cry/sad. Then, I'd call him 100 times until he'd finally answer & listen to me talk on the other end. I'd plead with him to forget about it all & just go back to "normal" & be together. He'd agree, never apologize for his actions/words, and we'd go back to "normal" for a while before the whole, horrible cycle would come 'round again.
Following my high school graduation, I decided to stay in our local area & attend the community college because my boyfriend was getting a tech. degree. We barely made it through my first year of college and after more of him "breaking up" with me every other weekend, his lies, and the rumors of him cheating on me I finally mustered up the courage to call the shot myself (for once) & I broke it off.
The break-up happened during the summer & I had quite a few guys, I guess, waiting to take me out & treat me like a princess. Flattered and loving all of the positive energy, I still buckled a few times over that summer & visited my ex (even staying the night 1 or 2 times). When fall came around, he hadn't called/texted/anything...I even saw him out during the summer & he literally looked right over my head & acted as if I wasn't trying to say 'hello' to him (it was embarrassing & hurt like hell).
That fall, I moved across the state to attend a state university & found out through friends that he had also planned to move there at the same time. I buckled again about a week after the move & sent a text to see what kind of response I would get. I got one I wasn't expecting, so when he asked me to help him shop for groceries for his new place I came...with a smile. The whole day was very flirty & we enjoyed each others' company a great deal but he didn't try to convince me that we should get back together or even hinted at it, so I was pretty confused about it all.
Almost a month went by when he tried contacting me & asked if he could take me out for dinner. He came in my dorm to get me (even that alone was strange behavior for him) & I felt his uneasiness as we walked down to his car. He opened my door & there was a bouquet of roses and a hand-written 7-page letter for me. He told me to read it on the way to the restaurant. I was utterly overwhelmed with emotions (I honestly cannot even accurately describe how it made me feel that first time I read it...I still read it and cry & cry & cry!) He basically poured his heart out in this letter, asking for my forgiveness for all his wrongdoings, treating me badly, and asking for just one chance to make it all right again & start fresh.
I could kick myself over and over again for the rest of my life for not responding the way I *should* have. I told him I "needed time" and basically that I thought it be best if I stay single for a little while longer before jumping back into a long relationship again. In a way, that really *was* how part of me felt because I was 19, on the brink of having my true "college experience", and was single for the first time in almost 5 years (& that is a LONG time when you're in your adolescent years)...the other part of me wanted to melt back into his arms and forget all of the horrible things he said & did to me over the course of our relationship (the cheating, lies, even a few instances of physical confrontation).
I wanted to marry him, have his children, and live happily ever after...but felt the right thing to do for us both would be to stay apart for a bit longer to work out ourselves. We met one other time (in person) after this dinner and he pleaded with me a second time, crying and all (something I had only seen him do when he broke down about his mom that one time). I should have known something wasn't "right" about his behavior & I am still so mad at myself for being so selfish at that point in time.
A few weeks after that visit, I was drunk at a party & decided to call him when I went to the bathroom. We ended up talking for an hour & when my friends decided they wanted to go back to the dorms I called him immediately after getting back to my room. We talked for probably another hour & had such a great night of conversation. I had been drinking a little but could recall the conversation quite easily. He said something about how he would literally drive a pedal bike all the way across the state to propose to me (he has back in our hometown that weekend) & I kind of laughed it off, but wasn't mean about it at all. We had a playful, pleasant, and very positive phone call (both when I was at the party & when I got back to my dorm). Our conversation ended with me telling him he should really "call me tomorrow" because it was past 2:30am and I wanted to talk more.
The next day was a busy one for me, with my family visiting and a sorority parent-dinner event to prepare for the following evening. I was so busy with my family in town for their first visit & the sorority craziness that I forgot he didn't call, so I never bothered to call either.
He shot himself in the head a couple miles from his parents house (in our hometown) late the same night I had told him to call me. And that's when my life fell into shambles.
I have such a crazy/messed up story, though, that it continues from here. In a nutshell, I ended up marrying his best friend & we have a daughter together. The problem is that I continue to think about my dead ex constantly, I always seem to compare my husband to him, and I am still dealing with overwhelming emotions on most days. I think his death, this whole ordeal (the way it all went down) has forever changed me..and not into a person I want to be.
I am always angry, lashing out at my poor husband for every little thing. I even lash out at my toddler..of course she's consistently challenging my patience but I'm the adult and should be able to effectively manage my emotions & not lash out in anger or frustration or irritation. And if I'm not angry I find myself saddened or almost disappointed/devastated that I will never be loved in the same way or as much as my ex loved me, ever again..knowing that is my fault.
I experienced a brief period of relief from my "grief" but can grieving really go on this long? Is something wrong with me? I do not want my negative energy or feelings to destroy my relationship with my husband. We are still young & have a lot to learn but I believe the first step is that I need to find better ways to cope and come to terms with my loss. My husband experienced this loss as well, but obviously in a very different way. I can't talk to him about this...