For me, falling in love is pretty easy…it’s the falling out of it part that’s hard.Song Inspiration: Out My Mind, Just In Time x Erykah Badu
It was 2002; I was in the 3rd grade. We had just finished lunch and were coming in from recess. I remember standing in line to get a drink from the classroom water fountain when I glanced over and locked eyes with my crush. Instant butterflies rushed to my stomach. I tried not to be so obvious as I quickly looked away just to swiftly look in his direction once again. He was whispering something to his friend. I watched them talk as they continued to look my way. I was caught up in his smile and the way he was so personable. My mind started to wander and I drifted into that thought about that one time he had said something funny while the teacher was talking and had made the whole class laugh. My boo was so funny, maybe he’d grow up to be a famous comedian or something. Then there was that one time that I lost my pencil and he let me borrow his; He even sharpened it for me before I used it. My boo was SO thoughtful! Maybe he’d be one of those traveling doctors that helps people recover from illness all over the world. Oh! There was also that one time when he… “LONDON!!!!” the classmate behind me yelled unnecessarily into my ear to get my attention. Apparently my daydreaming had me holding up the rest of the line to the water fountain. Thanks to the loud ass classmate behind me, I was busted. I quickly grabbed my drink and rushed back to my seat before I could be any more embarrassed.
But then it happened. The moment I had been waiting for all school year. My crush had glanced over in my direction again, but this time he was making his way over to me. In my mind, I panicked. He moved in closer. I could feel his breath as he got closer to my ear. My heart was beating so fast. I just knew this would be the moment he’d tell me that he felt the same way I felt about him all this time and I just knew he was going to ask me to be his girlfriend. I could feel it. He leaned in close, cupped his hand around my ear and whispered “Why have you worn the same pants for the last three days in a row???” My stomach instantly dropped to my ass. It was in that moment I had realized that during my daydreaming, my crush was laughing with his friend at the fact that I had worn the same pair of purple jeans for the last three days in a row. Now granted, I had NO business being in that type of outfit situation in the first place BUT in my defense, I was a third grader! I truly LOVED those purple pants and had successfully found three different shirts to match those jeans so my third grade logic told me to go for it! *face palm* I couldn’t have been more mortified in the 8 years of life that I had lived up to that point. I had this entire dreamy/romanticized scenario in my mind of how I thought things would go and I had set myself up to be completely let down. How would my little 3rd grade heart ever mend?! I cringe and laugh every single time I share this story, but in all actuality this moment would be one of the first to define the way I processed my relationships in the future.
Growing Apart (to get closer)
My experiences in this last year and a half have been some of the most traumatic, yet transformative that I have ever had. I am currently dealing with the aftermath of a break-up with my significant other of 5 years. I have so many thoughts and feelings about it but it’s been so hard to explain. I walk around like everything is fine when on the inside I feel like I’m on a never-ending rollercoaster of emotions. Some days I’m extremely sad while other days I’m extremely angry/frustrated. Some days I’m just lost in nostalgia but overall, I’m anxious about the unknown. Being with someone for so long, you get used to certain patterns and ways of being, even if it wasn’t necessarily the best situation or under the best circumstances. Oddly enough, during this time I have had some pretty impactful encounters with a couple of people who have really helped put some things into perspective.
In the last month or so I had been fortunate enough to have a conversation with my first long-term boyfriend. He was my high school sweetheart; we were supposed to be together forever. My sister had even named us godparents to her first-born. I was with him from the ages of 16-21 before we called it quits. He and I were growing up together while simultaneously growing apart. He was back home going to school while I was staying on campus. We were both trying our best to experience life separately, living our own experiences, having our own new encounters, building our own new relationships all while holding on to what we had built together. He was all that I knew. He and his family had supported me through some of the toughest moments of my life at that point. He was the person I thought I was going to marry. We fought for our young love as hard as we could, but it got to a point where we couldn’t even be in the same room together without being frustrated. We had this whole life planned out for the two of us. Unfortunately, plans change. The break up was rough. We both took it hard, but in different ways so we actually hadn’t been on speaking terms with each other for almost 5 years.
So when we finally met we both had a lot of things to say, but most importantly we had a lot of apologizing to do. We were so young when we were together and our expectations of what actual healthy relationships consisted of had been totally defined by outlandish societal norms and broken family constructs. We had no idea what it really took to be together and quite honestly we had no business imposing such heavy expectations on each other at such a young age. We were able to talk about our lives since we split- the good, the bad and the uncertain. Although I wish we could’ve had this type of closure a long time ago, it felt really good to know that we could be at a place of peace with each other within our own journeys. I left that space feeling hopeful, and I think he did too.
Coincidentally, I also recently reconnected with a middle school boyfriend of mine. I can remember a string of middle/high school boyfriends who were just that- school boyfriends. This was because I wasn’t allowed to date. That meant no home phone calls, no activities outside of school like movies, or arcade centers, not even park meet-ups. Don’t get me wrong, if I could find ways to cheat the system, I would. So from the school hours of 7:30 am to 3:30 pm, Monday-Friday I would spend time talking, passing notes, sitting next to at lunch, and holding hands in the hallway with my boo. If I had friends whose parents weren’t drill sergeants like mine, I would take advantage of the opportunity to see my boo in person at a bonfire or a casual kickback. I had to get in where I fit in so I made the most out of the time I was allotted. Of all my middle school flings, this one felt the most real to me. The connection we had was unparalleled. I know it sounds silly coming from a middle school perspective but it’s really the only way to describe it. We were so young but it was like he was one of the only people who really saw me. We had a deeper understanding of each other. He’s the one that called out my perfectionism before I even really knew what it was. He was my first kiss. He made all of the risky attempts to connect worth it.
I moved to the city of Detroit about 3 years ago. One of the first people I reached out to was this middle school boyfriend who happened to live in the city. Although we hadn’t been in a relationship since middle school, we had stayed somewhat connected through a mutual friend of ours and through social media. I was really excited to get to re-learn him as adults and not through the lens of my 13-year-old self. I had high hopes for meeting together at some point but after a couple years passed and it never happened, I let it go. To my surprise, a couple of months ago we ended up reconnecting over the course of a weekend that our mutual friend was in town visiting. I finally had the opportunity to tell him about how our interactions together were so special and what our connection had meant to me back then. I had waited all this time to see him and couldn’t wait to ask him why it took so long for us to finally reconnect. His response was really short and to the point which caught me off guard. He calmly said “London, we only dated for about two weeks before you broke up with me.” In that moment, I had felt that same feeling of rejection that my 3rd grade self had felt before. Now, there was a lot of middle school politics in-between this situation that I won’t delve into… but the point still remained that what I once thought was a special connection between me and this person could have really been summed up to a fling that lasted all of two weeks before it was totally dismantled.
I left that interaction feeling real unsure about myself for a moment. I thought back to my past interactions, not only with him but with every boy I ever thought that I had loved, from the boy in 3rd grade, the guys in middle and high school, all the way to the current situation that I was in. Did I really love these people? Was the connection really real? Did I make all of this up in my mind? Were any of these encounters genuine?? It felt like that one scene in the movie A Beautiful Mind, when the main character played by Russell Crowe found out that all of his fond memories were indeed made up and that he was actually suffering from schizophrenia. At first, I was shook but then something clicked.
Not all honest expressions of my feelings are real honesty. You see, my honest feelings may not be truthful assessments of the situation. I can be honest with how I feel and still exaggerate or misinterpret what is true. I can feel justified in being blatant about my feelings- not hiding a thing and prideful for being so real, all under the guise of being honest enough to not stuff things up inside.Lysa TerKeurst
The reality of the relational situations that I have been in is that I wasn’t actually looking at the reality of the situations that I was in. I had to read that sentence again in my mind too. I was too busy getting caught up in the romanticism of it all that I wasn’t really paying attention to the hard facts. Did I have a crush on that boy in 3rd grade? Yes! However, he wasn’t interested in me in that way-not at all. Instead of facing the reality of that, I chose the alternative route to fantasize about what could be-not what really was, only to be let down by what I already knew to be true. Did I really think that I was going to marry my high school sweetheart? There was no doubt in my mind! But the reality of the situation was that we just couldn’t make it work and there was absolutely nothing we could do at the time to prevent our split from happening, no matter how hard we tried to piece it back together. Did I really have a deep connection with my middle school boyfriend? Oh absolutely! But the reality of the situation was that we were 7th/8th graders. Because of my strict lifestyle, we only had so many hours of a school day/week to interact. We took advantage of the time we had together and it was great, really great but it wasn’t enough to make a real difference in our journey together like I had hoped. Did I really love my most recent significant other? With everything in me. Unfortunately the reality of the situation is that you can’t make someone love you the way that you want to be loved-they’ve got to be ready and willing to make those compromises and sacrifices. I realize that I’ve spent a lot of time grieving over what was never really mine. Had I understood these situations for what they truly were, maybe I wouldn’t have been so lovesick in these seasons…
It Gets Better With Time
As I continue to live through the daily motions of life without someone I thought I would be with for the long haul, I am constantly reminded that it all gets better with time. It took 5 years for me and my high school sweetheart to find closure. It took a little over 10 years for me and my middle school boyfriend to reconnect and I’m guessing it’s going to take some serious time before me and my recent significant other can get our stuff together too. In the midst of all this uncertainty, I am certain of this: there is a love out there that is just for me. It won’t be imagined, short-lived or forced. This time, I promise myself that I won’t stir up or awaken love until I know its time for me has truly come. So, I’ll be patient. Whenever that time comes, I will welcome it with an open mind and an open heart.
To every boy I’ve ever loved… or at least thought that I loved: I still do. But not in the daydreaming, fairy-tale imaginary kind of way. It’s in the genuine sense that I hope you’re happy, healthy and living your best life. It’s the hope that you’ve found, or are on your way to finding your purpose, discovering your passions and experiencing actual love or at least what it feels like to genuinely love someone else. I hope that when you think of me in whatever capacity we’ve interacted-past or present, the memory makes you laugh or smile. I sure do.
Yours in Aunthenticity,