When I was a kid, just learning the art of sarcasm and witty anecdotes, my friends and I thought ourselves so cleaver when we said, “Watch me count up to 100. One, two, skip a few, 99, 100!”. That pretty much sums up how my dating style started. I had one or two boyfriends, skipped a few years of potential, and then I was suddenly thrown into the deep end, kicking and screaming. Treading water furiously. Trying to stay afloat while people around me made it look effortless and seemed to be swimming for years.
My dry years were as a result of my interest in boys taking a break to much more important things like PlayStation, friends and causing trouble in the neighbourhood. Then, quite inexplicably, my interest escalated to a point where I couldn’t tell when my interest for one boy faded and the other began.
After my little drummer boy, I have little memory of other boyfriends. I mean, I know there were boys around me. But I don’t think I ever really considered them very seriously at all. I was far to engrossed in what was happening around me at the time. It was a time of turmoil for me. Very little support or stability really. So naturally I was far too preoccupied with my life to really consider a whole other person. In fact, towards the end of the high school career, I started and ended relationships at an alarming rate. Most of which I had absolutely no physical interaction with, and I am including the act of pressing lips together. Some did get that right, but that’s where it started and ended.
The first boy to ever move beyond that, ended up being my first ever long term boyfriend. Moving from a dating period average of 2 weeks to a 3-year relationship. He seemed to break down all walls. I had finally settled down. Stopped doing the same shit i had been doing. I finally found stability, love, affection, conflict, care, and what it means to truly work hard and fight for someone. It scared me half to death. But it was wonderful, especially once we were comfortable with each other and could be our whole selves, dry jokes and all. But it wasn’t without its own set of problems. And because of my sever lack of relationship experience, I could never be prepared for what came next.
For you see, he and i did not share everything. For example, he and i did not share the same culture, race or religion. But me being who i was, didn’t care and didn’t think it would ever be an issue. In those 3 years i found so much respect for anyone in a multi-cultural relationship.
Let me explain. No two people are the same. I know that. Everyone is unique and different. I know that. But not sharing something so integral as culture or religion creates problems you never even thought you could have. It shocked me that something that had seemed so trivial, like where and when people eat, became a cause of concern. It was made clear to me that women ordinarily cook in the kitchen while the men watch TV. After which the men will eat and the women will eat after. This did not sit well with me at all. I was raised by a single mother who raised me to independent, curious and to question why. She also taught me that woman and men should be equal. So, this became the start of where I realised the power of culture, habit and religion.
Another point was how I was expected to serve my boyfriend. It was never explicitly said but it became an unspoken norm. I would dish up his food and cook on occasion. But when asked if he would do the same, the question was always met with the same sort of response. Some would be more fluffy to cousin the blow, but they all yielded the same end. He would not serve or cook for me.
Please don’t misunderstand, we did have a beautiful relationship where he did care for me, treat me with love and kindness, and listened to me tales of woe. These were just the issues that ultimately led to our downfall.
So three years passed and through a series of extremely stressful events and family intrusions, we broke up. Both of us broken into pieces of the same stained glass. We had been together for so long and been through so much that the breakup was so much more than either of us anticipated. We had also fallen into the trap of making each other our whole lives, with little dependable friends to speak of or to. We had grown so integrated that parts of our identities were moulded together. And like the broken pieces of a stained glass, we didn’t work on our own with the limited pieces we walked away with. We were broken, lost, confused and without a sense of self.
Everyone always says that your first love is the most difficult to get over. I don’t ever think I will stop loving him. Because if I did love him, it wouldn’t fade just because we aren’t together anymore. I still love that man, dearly. I still miss that man, truly. However, this experience showed me, quite violently I might add, that you can love someone but still need to remove yourself.
This was an extremely difficult lesson to learn. In fact, I’m still learning it. Especially after years of believing in love. Waiting for love. Watching Disney, and the media, peddle stories of true love, how it conquers all, and how with love anything is possible. Sometimes you just need more. Sometimes love isn’t enough. And ain’t that just a little bit disheartening.