When I was in elementary school, I liked a boy whose face was always a little dirty, a boy who wore corduroys that were always patched at the knees. Somehow, I sensed he had less than I did in this life, and for some inexplicable reason I felt a connection to him.
One afternoon, this boy and I held hands during a roller-skating party in our school gymnasium. It was wonderful, the way he whipped me around the room. His fingers tightly gripping mine, I felt alive, chosen.
I started bringing candy to him, assorted caramels rolled in colorful wrappers, and he happily took my plastic baggy filled with sweets, eating everything hungrily and without much appreciation.
I brought him treats for a long time, until I realized it was the candy he liked, not me.
Apparently, I haven’t learned much since my elementary school days.
Because I did it again.
This one knew how to clean himself up well-enough. He told me that he’d stop smoking cigarettes someday and shared enough secrets to make me feel like I was special. I liked the way he curled around me at night, pulling my body against his, making me feel delicate. I loved watching him sleep, hearing his breath, studying the curve of his face, his perfectly shell-shaped ears.
But nothing was easy. Our conversations were filled with miscommunications, and he was forever hanging up on me when we spoke on the phone.
I encouraged him to follow his dreams, helped him with his business, opened my home to him, gave him my heart, my body. Some many offerings.
The point is I see it now, this old pattern, this longing to save someone I like. To make him love me.
I want to say that I’m hopeful that one day I’ll find my person – someone who is willing to accept responsibility for hurtful words, someone who apologizes and makes an attempt to change his future actions, someone who is willing to fight for me rather than with me, someone passionate and affectionate – a partner who possesses all the attributes I dream of and which, at one time, seemed so simple.
Time for me to stop offering up what little sweetness I have left.
Time to love myself and eat all the chocolates.
Ever stayed in a bad relationship for too long? How did you know when it was time to end things?
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