As a child I was notorious for barricading myself alone in my room (a room which I was supposed to be sharing with my two younger siblings at the time) or locking myself in the bathroom just so I could play with my toys by myself. The lack of privacy among five people in a two bedroom house made me ferociously territorial, but it was less about the physical toys and more about sharing my thoughts. I always had an overactive mind and I was always grasping for ways to express it. Letting people in meant sharing my thoughts, which I was still developing.
I was happily lost deep in play acting and imagination. When I was interrupted it felt like my world wasn’t important anymore. I would pout and grasp for my toys, the only tangible link to the daydreams I was so attached to. I suppose it was easy to interpret that behavior as selfish, but even at a young age I knew those around me didn’t see things the way I did. I could envision the reality I wanted so clearly. I had a plan for every toy, a purpose for every crayon, every stuffed animal had backstory.
When I got older I loathed group projects. Forced to work with people who would either hound you for immediate progress or others who would turn into the dead weight you would have to carry. As early as middle school it was evident that I wouldn’t even think of touching my homework until after dinner, blast the radio the entire time, and stay up way past my bed time to finish it. With the exception of math, all my grades were really good but my unorthodox work habits were always putting me at odds with parents and classmates alike.
My parents would argue with me about the music and the late nights. They didn’t think I could be successful and have such unusual habits. But I knew there was more than one way to come out on top.
Buy the time I was in college my habits had only gotten stranger. I was one of the only art students who didn’t use drugs. I would sign up for earliest classes instead of sleeping in so I wouldn’t have to fight for parking. I chose to live off campus because I wanted to be as far away from all the drunken partying as possible.
The art classes were unlocked so students could stay late to finish projects. I was notorious for showing up 3am to finish my pieces. Finally, one of my art teachers approached me. He was concerned and said the janitors had noticed me always showing up in the middle of the night. He feared that I might be homeless or have a horrible living situation.
I smiled at him. “I’m ok. I just hate having to wait to use the supplies. If I come in the middle of the night I don’t have to share with anyone. I can do what I want and I can do it faster.”
He laughed, “Ok, do what you gotta do!”
That same art teacher would eventually let me lead class critiques and overrode me into another class because he loved my portfolio.
I’ve always been independent, unusual, and a bit defiant. Luckily, I have always been comfortable with myself.
Everything I’ve wanted I’ve had the ability to achieve alone. But love is not that kind of thing.
I’m so jealous of my married friends. I wonder what it must be like to be someone’s first choice, to have someone to grow with, to make a future with someone.
I’ve never felt like I loved the wrong people but looking back I can’t help but see their faults. And if I’m being completely honest, I can’t ignore my own. I stayed too long. I believed that my love could overcome any obstacle. That was my mistake. It was always “my” love; not “our” love.
One boyfriend and I remained friends with two years after our break up. I knew him before his depression and wanted so badly for him to come back around. He didn’t want to get better and wallowed in self-pity. I hung on and tried to be the support he need. It would not be enough. We ultimately grew apart because I could not respect his refusal to seek help.
I waited almost a year for another boyfriend to get a job. He was talented but unmotivated. Being with him felt like my life was moving in slow motion. Yet I believed in him and encouraged him. It would not be enough. He turned his eyes towards other woman. I did not indulge his weakness.
After I met William I was so sure the worst was behind me.
I was crushed when he moved back to Brazil but I hung on like I always do. My heart won’t let me give up. Life has to beat it out of me. It surely did.
I was hospitalized, medicated, had to move to a different apartment to spare myself further health risks - all of which turned me upside down mentally and financially. I had to endure the loss of a friend during the Pulse shooting. And I still reached out to him every day because my love could overcome anything.
He used to tell me everyday how he’d come back home and make everything right again. But fell into his work and loved the attention it gave him. He got comfortable. I wanted his support but he felt like I was just giving him problems. He called less and less. I felt more and more confused. He said he wanted me to talk to him, to come to him with anything. Wasn’t I doing what he asked of me? Despite my tears I hung on like I always do. My love was true and I could overcome anything.
I went on like that for months, barely talking to him more than three minutes at a time. He never had time for me, he rarely talked about coming back. He was pulling away and I was begging for attention. I hate begging. I hated that I was no longer worth his time. I hate the slow feeling of my relationship withering away.
I felt the world and all my problems collapsing around me. I had no one to help. No one to turn to. I felt like I’d been holding my breath waiting for him to be present with me. I don’t think he knew how bad I was doing because he spent so little time actually talking to me. He was shocked but he shouldn’t have been.
Even after all that I still wrote him letters and told him how much I loved him. I wrote them for many months after we broke up. I bleed my heart out and cried over every word. I thought he loved me as much as I loved him. I thought he meant it when he said he was the best man for me. I thought he’d work to come back home. I thought he’d fight for me the way I fought for him. I thought my love could overcome any obstacle.
I learned that once again it was my love, not our love.
I chose the few I loved because I saw magic in their souls and future in their eyes. They let me down hard.
I feel as though the sole purpose of my love and affection was to withstand abuse. To watched as those I loved most dear destroyed themselves and stand idly by as my heart shattered.
My love is one of the greatest gifts I had to offer and it had never been enough. It didn’t matter how hard I tried, how steadfast I was, or how long I held on. My loyalty and devotion were meaningless.
When I look back at all the time I spent alone as a child it seems almost out of place that I should crave companionship as much as I do. I felt horrible waves of sorrow fighting for and ultimately loosing those I loved. But the truth was it was I who severed ties.
I was repeating myself too much. Burning all my energy and getting nothing in return. I felt held back dealing with the same issues instead of growing and moving forward. I was crying too much and feeling stagnant too often. It felt less like love and more like blind obligation. The ship was sinking and I was resented for learning how to swim.
I’ve always struggled between the dichotomy of my desires to be part of a loving union and completely autonomous. Looking back the vast majority of my life has been on a direct course to solitude. My independence and quirky habits have given me little choice but to forge my own path. But I still have that part of me that desires a family of my own. I have so much love to give that has yet to find its outlet. It is in seeking that outlet that has become my harshest lesson and most outstanding failure.
I never felt like I loved the wrong people, but the love they were willing to give was warped. I should never have almost lost myself to save someone who didn’t want the help. I should never have been told that I was still loved by someone who thought cheating was acceptable. I should never have been ignored when I needed the support of the person I loved most.
Perhaps in seeking love I forgot how unique I was. I was not designed to be normal. I was made to stay lost in my head, hands busy with art, and a heart built for love just the same. As I got older and better with words I’ve gotten more accustomed to explaining myself. Maybe that doesn’t matter as much as I thought it did. Perhaps my greatest gift is not blind obligation and self sacrifice but rather my perspective; my ability to forge ahead. I’ve always been most as peace in my own eccentricities.