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.