I’m so glad I’m not engaged. Despite the fact that my Facebook newsfeed recently became a bridal look-book, I don’t envy these bride-to-bes. I’m so happy for them, don’t get me wrong. I’m also super happy that nobody has liked me enough to even try to put a ring on it. That may sound super weird and self-deprecating, but let me explain…
When I graduated high school, I was unequivocally in love. I wrote poems about it, I doodled in my notebooks about it, I listened to songs and thought about it….simply, my life was divided into two segments, the “before” and “after” with him being the dividing line. I barely remembered the “before”, and meticulously planned the “now” and “after”. For years, my mother had poured the wisdom of her 20+ year marriage into my head, with the constant advice being “when you meet him, you’ll just know. It will be different.” My tumultuous relationships leading up to this one proved that this one was very different, starting with a beautiful friendship and just organically becoming something more. I hesitate to say it, but the word “rescue” is on the edge of my lips because some days, most days, in fact, that’s what it feels like happened. He rescued me from fools, from deceit, from lies, from bad people. We established an easy relationship with a healthy ebb and flow that my friends envied, my parents smiled knowingly at and I just basked in, undaunted by the threat of a long distance college romance. I was in love from the bottoms of my toes to the hair that he complained always tickled his face when we cuddled, and that love filled me up in all my spaces in between.
But things change. I changed. He changed. Or maybe neither of us changed, but our circumstances did…the details have always been blurry. But eventually my tickling hair was no longer charming when we cuddled, in fact, we stopped cuddling all together. Before, I had been certain nothing could stop us from being apart, but soon all it took was a better offer close by. It’s a strange kind of love, knowing absolutely that you would take a bullet for someone, but being uncertain if they would do the same. Watching someone you used to catch staring at you and smiling, stop looking at you, really at all. Knowing that in spite of a friendship remained steadfast through the ups and downs, you were watching the love of your young life try not to fall out of love with you…trying desperately and in vain to capture the light and uncomplicated bliss that had been wrapped around you, sheltering you, for almost 2 years.
Those last months, I became someone I didn’t recognize. I went from being someone who was quick to laugh, kind and positive, to someone so resentful, jealous, angry and bitter, I hardly recognized myself. I spent my days fighting with my boyfriend and my nights crying about him. It was a sick vortex that I had immersed myself in and I couldn’t quite claw my way out because I was too busy clawing into him for “other girls” and various pictures that would pop up on my newsfeed.
Finally, the break-up came….despite all evidence to the contrary, it came rather unexpected. I drove over to his house and after hours of talking, we decided (100% mutually) to end things. We needed to experience “college” and all it had to offer and having a shadow of a boyfriend and a resentful girlfriend was hindering that experience for both of us. So, after 2 years of (mostly) beautiful times, we hugged in my minivan, and said “We had a pretty good run, huh?” “No…we had a great run.”
The feeling of this heartbreak was unrelenting. It felt like I had lost a limb…I could feel the emptiness circulating through my body like it was the blood in my veins.
But…here’s the thing.
I got through it. I didn’t die. I matured. I grew up. I looked back on the relationship and saw where not only he went wrong, but I did as well. I cried. I moved on. I kissed other boys. I dated other boys. I slept over other boys houses. I lived at college. I got super drunk…a lot. I almost got arrested once or twice. I didn’t make dean’s list. I really sucked at Kildare’s Quizzo. I went to a glow party in a frat basement. I had a huge crush on a frat brother. I had a bigger crush on a guy at work. I ate a lot of late night pizza. I made super shady friends. I put my life in danger more than 10 times. I’m still alive. I took a women’s studies class. I got a women’s studies minor. I became a registered Democrat. I listen to Dashboard Confessional without crying. I stopped being jealous of my friends’ successful high school sweetheart relationships. I got my industrial pierced. I got my nose pierced. I got a neck dermal. I got other piercings. I plan on getting more. I have a tattoo planned. My grandmother died. A dear friend died. My best friend’s father died. My brother’s best friend died. I met creepy guys from OKCupid. I not-so creepy guys from OKCupid. Long road trips alone became my favorite thing.
Somewhere along the line…I kind of became my favorite thing.
I became my own partner in crime. I found friends I never would have had if I had stayed in what I thought was the best relationship of my life. I would have never had a single one of these experiences if I had stayed in that relationship. If you had asked 18-20 year old Chelsea, she would have easily, without hesitation, chosen to stay…no matter what, with no worry about compromising herself or her dreams to do it. But at 24, the thought of losing out on even more experiences to come, by being in a relationship with really, anyone, throws me into an anxiety tailspin. I have more growing up to do, more happiness to find within myself.
I’m not closed to love, I’ve fallen in and out of love since that relationship, but I’m also not putting any pressure on myself to find it. I’ve got a lot of things to do before I “settle down”.
I can’t wait to get started.