From 2006-2012, always on July 31st, I never failed to acknowledge how much me meant to me. I wouldn't call it an anniversary in the slightest, but it was a marking of a day and a person that would change my life from that point on. There was never a huge celebration; it started out with letters and boiled down to Facebook statuses, praying that he would read it and know that I still cared for him. Even when things changed between us, the significance of that day never did; at least until now.
But that wasn't the only day. I can't recall the specifics, but it was right after the fourth of July; perhaps the sixth or the seventh? I'm not really sure. All I remember most is standing outside on my back patio, still in my work uniform and hearing the words "he's not here and we don't know if or when he's coming back." That was a defining moment because our relationship was never the same afterward. While I don't regret the small stuff, I should have let him go after he left. I don't want to say that the following five years were a waste, because we did talk. Yet, it became such an emotional roller-coaster to where it started to affect other relationships, the people who were fully present in my life. And that's when I knew I couldn't keep going; I couldn't keep holding on to someone who clearly was not willing to hold on to me.
There were other guys; some I met through my day to day life in college, and others in my season of dating, which was mediocre at best. Through all of that I realized that while we do get to choose, there is such a thing as people being an influence on those choices. I didn't, and still don't have many strong male figures in my life. I don't have the best examples of what it means to genuinely give love and respect in a relationship. No, that's not an excuse for putting up with someone who treats you like dirt, or treating another person like dirt. But when you don't have others (particularly someone who's older and possibly more experienced) to guide you in that aspect, it seems only natural to just go with what's right in front of you.
It's not just a matter of avoiding the wrong things, but knowing how to choose the right things as well.
And that is what I'm specifically working on in therapy. Along with the lack of examples, I've been given a lot of mixed messages regarding expectations, settling, and other stuff. It has honestly gotten to the point where I don't know what to think anymore. Between the (overly bitter) Cosmopolitan view and what seems like a legalistic Christian view, it is very confusing. I want to be able to have my own personal convictions rather than just jumping on whatever bandwagon may be passing by at the moment. More so, I want to live by those convictions without needing anybody to validate them. There's a strong sensitivity to being left behind, for whatever reason. While I can't control who does that and why, I can learn how to react in ways that don't involve becoming so angry that I'm driven to do dangerous things, such as drinking until I can't remember why I was mad in the first place.
I apologize if maybe that all came across as incredibly harsh. However, I've been going through this ridiculous cycle for years and I'm more than ready for it to stop. I have taken a few steps backward at times, but that motivates me even more. I do know what I want, and I have always known. As I said, it's about taking the necessary (and healthy) steps in order to get it.
As far as the guy is concerned, it's over and has been over for a long time. I hold no anger against him, but I'm not going to overlook the fact that he hurt me and the impact as a result. There will always be a part of me that cares for him, mostly because I will always have the memories. When you invest yourself in someone for almost eight years, it's hard to act like you don't ever think about that person. The way I've been trying to look at it is that God brought him into my life for a purpose, and that purpose has been fulfilled.
That being said, I still have knee-jerk reactions and the grief is still there. When that happens for anybody, it doesn't mean that you're not willing to move forward; it's a way of acknowledging reality. Just as the good changes and stays with us, so does that bad. As time goes on, you eventually learn that there are some things you're not going to completely get over. You learn to accept that this is your normal and do the best you can with what you have.In some cases, you learn to live without whatever/whomever isn't there anymore. Or maybe, just maybe, you learn to live again.