When I was 25, I had the best boyfriend ever. Except for one thing. He was the worst boyfriend ever.
Let me explain.
We met at a barbeque. Me in my adorable plaid skirt. Him, bespectacled and watching me intently. Holding his beer, he made his way to me. I felt his journey toward me more than I watched it. It felt inevitable. I blinked and we were making out on the floor of my apartment. I remember wishing, as we were rolling around, that I hadn’t eaten such a big dinner. It made the gymnastics more difficult.
Before long, we were together all the time. And he was also critiquing me nonstop. Like, YOU SHOULD work out more. Or, YOU SHOULD not wear clothes like that. Or, YOU SHOULD be….(everything I’m not). But when he was complimenting me, the critiques all faded away. Oh the compliments! They were balm for the wound. They were a brief sun break from the rain. The slice of bread to the starving man. I began to wish for the compliments, pray for the compliments, hope for the compliments then desperately pine for the compliments.
Sooner or later, as these things do, the final straw happened. It was betrayal, but I still wanted him. I probably felt I needed him. And then he left.
Survival is a primitive thing. Clawing through the darkness like an animal. But, eventually, the sun does rise. Breathing becomes less labored and the clouds lift. I had lost him, but in that long battle, I won. It felt good. It still does.
Sometimes, I dream about him. He is always aloof, wanting me back but not begging. It is usually when something is stressing me out. He comes to remind me that winning is possible, even when all hope is lost.