When I was in my early 20’s I was in a bad relationship and totally lost who I was during the course of our time together. We lived together, grew apart, and hurt each other in every way possible. I vowed to never let that happen again. The next time I moved in with someone it was going to be serious, we were going to handle things maturely, and always consider what brought us together in the first place…
O and I moved in together in the beginning of April. Don’t think I’ve mentioned his name yet, but that’s what I’ll call him. We had both lived with other people in the past, but it had been a while for either of us. He was used to living alone and I was used to living with roommates. We knew there would be an adjustment period but we were so good at communicating that we had high hopes we’d get through it.
He was a clean dude, somewhat organized, and definitely handled his business. I was so excited to share my life with someone, and to call our apartment home. Home. Such an abstract concept. We immediately went to Ikea and Bed, Bath, & Beyond the usual places couples on a budget go to pick up new furniture & we rearranged our apartment. I enjoyed cooking us dinners, kept the place tidy, & we got into a routine.
The first month I was there was rough. Wouldn’t be easy for any couple, let alone a new one. I was tapering down from a major dose of steroids to treat my illness, & was experiencing some major side effects. Fatigue set in, I broke out like a teenager, couldn’t sleep much, & my immune system had weakened. I didn’t feel like myself & my self-esteem took a major blow. I looked & felt awful, despite his attempts to comfort me.
We both knew there was no cure for my illness & there would be times I would get sick, but I was doing so well before I left that neither of us saw this coming. I felt like a burden at times, or that he thought I wasn’t trying hard enough. He would ask me if I was happy, and tell me I should smile more. I felt lucky every morning to wake up next to him, and never took his love for granted, but I had little control over my body.
I would work sporadically and try to concentrate my efforts on the two courses I was taking. I’m a classic over-thinker. I analyze everything almost to an extreme. I read into things, and this is something I wanted to keep in check with this relationship. Trust my boyfriend. Trust my self. If he liked or commented on a girl’s social media post I knew about it. I investigated. Poked & prodded. We weren’t going to have secrets.
I’ve never really been a super confident woman. I’ve struggled with my body image, and took things personally. O was really good at showing me affection, making me feel appreciated, & telling me I was beautiful. But when I started questioning his actions, and snooping through his personal items I became an ugly person. He noticed. My carefree spirit and go with the flow attitude slipped away. I couldn’t hang on.
Sometimes I would start a conversation and had no idea where it was going. What was the point of that? Why was I trying to sabotage something that was so wonderful? O wasn’t perfect, he threw his share of daggers, but I really feel like I instigated a lot of little quarrels. O was my friend, first & foremost, but we stopped really being there for each other & didn’t catch what wasn’t being said. We were merely coexisting.
We had always enjoyed each others company. We continued to make fun plans despite all of the daunting conversations, because we were going to make our way out of this rough patch. However, things had changed. The weeks spent riding a roller coaster of emotions had taken its toll. He looked at me differently. Smiles felt forced. Sex was less frequent & unexciting. If things didn’t drastically change we were doomed.
Then it happened. I realized I had become a stranger to myself. I didn’t completely lose myself, but I couldn’t undo what had been done. Before we moved in together I was probably in the happiest place of my life. Confident & ready to overcome any obstacle. Pursuing my dreams while things were falling into place. I had worked so hard for so long, and it looked liked my time to shine had come. I was glowing & determined.
Now living with O- I found myself questioning everything. I had become a shell of my former self. I felt like I was walking around on pins and needles trying to make sure he was happy. He had that covered though, & I didn’t realize it until it was too late. He was taking care of himself and was doing a good job. He didn’t need me to cater to his every need. I was supposed to add something to his life, be his partner on this journey.
I had stopped focusing on my goals & needs. I became someone who wasn’t really fun to be around. My light was burning out & I was losing sight of everything I’d fought to achieve. The reason we were so good together was because as individuals we had accomplished so much. We were kindred spirits who had found its counterpoint in another. We were supposed to take on the world & support each others milestones.
10 weeks into living with each other and it was over. Now I’m living in the desert trying to pick up the pieces. I miss my friend. I took a chance, and it didn’t work out. Now what? Grad school, keeping my health in check, and starting over. Well in some sense at least. It’s time to restore my lust for life and unwavering enthusiasm for what’s possible. I have to believe that this was just a stepping stone. No more looking back…