Today I am linking up with the wonderful Hot Ash from More Than Cheese And Beer for Sunday Confessions. The prompt is First Love. Grab a cup of something tasty, sit back and relax and read on and please don't forgret to head on back to the link up and check out the other brave bloggers who joined in today.
I was born a hopeless romantic. It is a cruel fate for a girl living in this world. I always imagined my first relationship to be of mushy love poems, saccharin sweet nick names and a lot of hand holding and splitting ice cream sundaes.
My first love, my first head-over-heels, butterflies dancing in my tummy, awkward, blush inducing, ugly crying when the heartbreak came was a disaster. I make no pretense of a happy, pure, sweet love. It was wrong and hidden and even 16 years later I find myself having trouble writing about it. Writing about him.
He wasn't my first kiss.
He wasn't the first to cop a feel.
He was, however, the first that made me feel. Good and bad. Physically and emotionally. He made me feel those feelings. The overwhelming, all consuming, powerful, amorous feelings.
I had just turned 14. He had moved in next door in the crappy duplex we lived in. He was older-in his mid twenties older-and just gotten out of prison and crashing with a long time friend of his.
His name was Jason. It started out somewhat sweet. He would come over when my mom was gone asking to borrow this or that. He would wait for me when I got off the bus in our long driveway and walk me home. He would feed me compliments. He would pick me flowers and leave them in my screendoor. He made me feel special.
When I step back now, I get a sick feeling. It was never love or anything close to it. It was manipulation and grooming. And he had all the tools.
Eventually the relationship progressed from curious innuendos to a physical relationship. And the niceties stopped immediately. The only compliments I received from him were backhanded. If I ever ate in front of him, he would mock me and question if I really needed to eat. He bought me alcohol and would get angry and rageful if I didn't want to drink. He would accuse me of cheating on him and tell me that no one wanted me around anyway so it was better to stay home and not go out with friends.
He forgot my name seemingly. He would only call me a goodie two shoes, a fat ass, stupid slut or my favorite a bitch unless we were around other people, then he would act like he did not know me.
I was scared and becoming withdrawn and only blossomed when he gave me the rare five minutes of adoration he could muster, the five minutes of brain washing to keep a stupid teenage girl hooked.
My mother could sense something and asked frequently how she could help but I shared nothing until years later. I could not allow myself to shame her. I would not allow myself to embarrass her with my stupid actions. She would have been so disappointed, that was what I told myself.
The one friend I confided in explained to me, that it must have been something I was doing wrong to make him upset and I should try to change. Years later at her graduation party, when I walked in on her dad hauling off on her mom, I totally understood where that horrid advice came from.
That hopeless romantic in me got scared and took off running. Something inside me broke, a little part of me that was full of light and silliness dimmed. I began to hate myself and my ridiculous notion of love.
I thought that I messed up a possible good relationship, that I was doing the wrong things, that I was a failure and that I was not worthy of love. Of being taken on dates and sweet kisses. Silly nicknames and inside jokes. I was not worthy to be cherished and respected. I began to believe I deserved his rough hands and cruel tongue. I began to believe I was worthless and could do no right. I began to believe this was the only way I deserved to be loved.
It lasted for months but felt like eternity. He ended up going back to prison for an assault and battery charge. It has taken me years to unlearn the way of thinking he introduced me to.
It took a few more crappy 'boyfriends' and bad experiences to realize I didn't deserve to be treated like shit.
It took one man with the patience of a thousand to instill in me that I was worthy of love but that I needed to love myself first to fully accept and appreciate the love in the world.
It took me a while to fall back in love with life, to trust it, to cherish it. Even though I am with a man who loves me and cherishes me with my goofy, giddiness and solemn, serious moments. It has taken years to move forward, to trust that not every man is the same, that every relationship is not doomed, that it is okay to be a hopeless romantic.
Even after the first few years of our relationship, I didn't quite trust him, I didn't quite believe he could love me like he promised he did. He never tired of complimenting me or loving me but begged me to love myself. To tell myself at one thing I liked about myself a day for a week, for a month, then for a year. To journal, to write again, to paint again, to be brave enough to trust myself and my feelings and to let them out. To fall in love with myself.
And I have.
If you have not I encourage you to do so. It is a journey, a long one, a never ending one, one I expect to be on the rest of my life. It is a beautiful relationship where you only fall deeper in love and trust and begin to do what you want to do. I imagine that this feeling I have, loving myself, is what my first love should have felt like-new and adventurous, sweet and simple, innocent then lovingly educated.
With this love I can love harder and wiser. I do not doubt my worth or value or look to someone else to define me. I define me. I accept me. I love me. I accept love and compliments and never let anyone talk down to me or disrespect me. I am worthy of love and so much more. I am a renewed, foolhardy, hopeless romantic. I cannot help it and don't want to.
Love is not easy. lt is not all happy times and musical inducing moments. Sometimes it is pain and heartache and bewildering and you must lean on your inner strength to help you through the confusing times. lt is building yourself up when you are spiraling to new crazy depths. lt is learning to move on, forgiving, and accepting what is best for you and realizing you are worthy of love.
Love and self-love is not easy or for the weak. lt demands courage and hardwork and just enough foolishness to believe in the good, the sweet, the romance that lives in this world.
My first love had its occasional sweet moments, gentle kisses and furtive glances but was soured by manipulative behaviors and cruel actions. It is a chapter of my life I cannot change. Without that chapter I would never know the beauty and reality of this love, of a hard, breathtaking love, of the joy of learning to accept love and love myself.