Who Am I? (Other Than Someone’s Girlfriend)

When I began to seek the answer to “Who am I?” I came to a disturbing realization.
Looking back, I don’t think there was ever a time that I ever knew myself at all.  I’ve always been a reflection of the man I was with and I never took the time to get to know myself.
In high school I was boy crazy.  In grade 12 I fell for an older guy with a kid on the way, a probation officer and a side job hustling crack.  This sociopath won me over with gifts and affection and I was thoroughly impressed that he had his own apartment.  He was experienced and showed me a side to my sexuality that I never knew existed.  Shortly after I fell, he put his boot on my face and tried with all his might to suffocate me.  He started cheating, but adamantly denied it.  He was aggressive, controlling and alarmingly bipolar.  He picked fights with my loved ones until I was kicked out of my parents home and alienated from friends.  We would break up and make up on a daily basis and the pain was so substantial that any ounce of kindness he threw my way left me in the the throws of ecstasy.  My friends gave me ultimatums, but I couldn’t stay away so they all cut me out.  I understood their concerns, but I was addicted to the pain.  I tried many times to leave, but threats of suicide and rash actions followed me out the door.  No amount of pleas from loved ones could help me, I had to finally realize on my own: realize that I was good enough and I did deserve better and that I had the strength to walk away.
Finally, after another round of lies, I had enough and told him to rot in Hell.  He threatened to kill himself, I replied that he deserved to die for what he had done to me and really meant it.  Even after I walked away from the relationship I continued to allow him in my life and to allow his presence to taint my next relationship.

After my emancipation I felt amazing, powerful.  I reconnected with old friends and began to have a social life again.  I promised myself it would be a long time before I allowed myself to get involved in another relationship.
It wasn’t even a month later when I met the next one.
He was blonde, exceptionally tall with an athletic build and a strong jawline.  I spotted him from across the party and made a point of introducing myself.  After all, I was deserving of a hot fling, right?  When leaving the party I saw him climb into his huge black truck and wave to my best and totally platonic guy friend, Dillon.
“Who is that beautiful creature?” I gasped.
“My cousin,” he replied with a scowl.
I wanted him in my bed more than anything, so I made a point of showing up at the same New Years Eve party as he and positioned myself next to him at midnight so that we would inevitably kiss.  The kiss continued long into 2006.
We started hanging out immediately, so imagine my horror when I discovered he was a kind and sweet virgin who invited me on a weekend getaway to meet his childhood best friends.
He begged me again and again to be his girlfriend and how could I say no?  He was gorgeous and sweet, and the exact opposite of my last boyfriend.  I eventually consented and tried to leave my emotional baggage behind and for a while it worked.  I taught him a thing or two in the bedroom and he showed me what it was to be part of a healthy relationship.  I felt I was finally getting the love and affection I deserved, but there was still the little voice in the back of my head that told me we wouldn’t be together in the end. His presence made me a different person, a better person.  I tried harder in school, hit the gym with him on a daily basis and even gave up smoking weed (one of my favourite pastimes).  One day, out of the blue, he told me it was over; he gave me no reason and completely cut me out of his life.  I fell apart and quickly sailed off the deep end.

The next year of my life was a blur of regrettable chaos.
I firmly believed I would find happiness once I found a new boyfriend, and quickly got to work seeking one.
I found the best way to get male attention was by sleeping around and proceeded to fall in love with any man who showed me any affection.  I was entirely desperate and had no real standards.
After a year of heartbreak and bad decisions, I decided to take a chance with my best friend.  I knew he loved me and believe he would make a good partner, and so began Act III.

The point I’m trying to make is that my entire adult life I jumped from relationship to relationship never allowing myself to be alone.  I’m finally in a place in my life where not only am I okay with being alone, but I eagerly embrace it as the most liberating feeling in the world.  Even if the highly unattainable “dream man” were to try and sweep me off my feet, I would tell him, “Yeah, you’re okay, but I have some bigger things going on in my life than love.” I may still not know myself, but I am on my way and that’s pretty satisfying.


Where it Went Wrong

It’s not my intention to dwell on the past, point fingers or play to blame game, but I must acknowledge that one does not just end a 5 year relationship due to some harmless flirting at a Drake concert.
The problem existed because of how I felt about myself when I was with him.  My self esteem dropped to an all time low and I couldn’t make even a simple decision without worrying what he would think. This is not to say he was making an effort to control me, he’s stubborn by nature and I believe he began to disagree with me just because he could, even on the most superficial and frivolous of topics.  If I said it was black, it had to be white.  And it was never enough for me to admit to defeat, oh no, I’d have to be repeatedly disproved until I begged for the conversation to be dropped.
Even when choosing an outfit, he would eye me up and down and scoff, “You’re wearing that?”
“What’s wrong with is?”
“You look like you’re 12 years old, I hate that dress, where did you even buy it?  Why can’t you dress more like <insert celebrity fashionista here>?”
I was criticized about everything from the way I did dishes to how I spent my free time.  No matter how much I did, I was still told I was unproductive, in the most passive-aggressive manner of course.  I was sick of constantly feeling guilty for trying to live my own life.  I already did everything for this man and was made to feel that it was never enough, that I was never enough. Again, my intention is not to rip my ex to shreds, truthfully he‘s sweet and loving, kind and fun and for some crazy reason he thinks the world of me.  Trust me when I say that I have nothing but love and respect for him and believe he has no malicious intent.
He is who he is: a type-A, slightly neurotic, super stubborn Taurus.
I am who I am: a hyper-sensitive, even more neurotic, self sabotaging Cancer.
Our personalities just clashed.
I think a lot of his behaviour stemmed from low self-esteem.  Perhaps he felt I was too good for him and thought belittling me would raise his stock.  He had a tendency to surround himself with beautiful, trendy and generally “cool” individuals while disregarding all others as “losers or “weird” (NOTE: I proudly proclaim myself to be a weirdo and would not want it any other way).  When he was around these so called friends, he tried to impress them to the point where he bent over backwards at their requests.  If a disagreement were to occur between myself and one of his friends he would ALWAYS side with the friend, regardless of the argument.  He refused to see things from my perspective or to listen to my concerns and feelings, so eventually I stopped trying to express them.  I stopped fighting in an effort to avoid arguments and somewhere along the way I lost sight of myself.  I felt that as long as things continued the way they were, there would always be this looming sadness in me, that I would never quite feel complete.  I wanted more than anything to find myself again, and until it hit me: maybe I had never known myself at all…