16 Years


When my daughter slams the door to our brownstone, I instantly know what — who — has angered her. I’d like to say it’s solely because she is my daughter, and that’s certainly part of it. I’ve watched her grow from a feisty toddler with fiery red hair and a lisp to a quirky and passionate young woman who feels everything a little too much. In truth, these are the things she and I have in common as well. I recall being her age, feeling things more deeply than my friends — the death of a celebrity, the lyrics to a song, the ending to a good book — and wondering why these things had to end, why they couldn’t go on for all eternity. I could recall the pure bliss I felt at the beginning of summer, the excitement I felt when fall came around, the giddiness of the spring when the robins started chirping, and the sadness as the daylights grew shorter and the nights stretched on.

I could recall even more clearly the person who held me close as those nights stretched on — the boy who felt those things right along with me, matched my passion with his own and made me feel less alone in a world that didn’t feel enough.

My girl has already flopped herself on her bed when I come into the room. She holds her pillow tightly to her chest. Her tears are seeping into the fabric, leaving dark tracks on light pink. She flashes her hazel eyes to me and looks away quickly. “I’m fine,” she mutters, turning her other cheek to the pillow, refusing to look my way.

I take a seat beside her on the bed, stroking her hair gently. She sobs with such fervor a part of me wants to tell her to calm down, but I know better. Experience has taught me that my daughter does not take kindly to those kinds of suggestions.

“You want to talk about it, baby girl?” I ask softly.

She heaves a sigh, refusing to meet my eyes. She’s so much like her namesake, her godmother, my best friend in the entire world. She’s stubborn and bratty and dramatic.

But she is also like her mother. She needs to talk to make sense of what is happening inside of her head. She needs to get it out, because if she doesn’t, then she’ll be like her father and let it fester until she has a meltdown over something insignificant — like a paper cut or a burnt piece of toast. I stifle the giggle at the memory of my first fight with her father, when he sliced his finger on an envelope and proceeded to yell at me for not giving him a letter opener, only to finally admit his reason for being so angry.

I shudder as the memory comes back in full, and thank my stars that my daughter is still looking in the other direction. I catch movement out of the corner of my eye and watch as she props herself up on an elbow, leaning far over to her nightstand to turn on her radio. I hold my breath, waiting to see what she chooses to soothe her. That alone will give me an answer — or at least confirm my suspicions — of what has her so riled up. When Tom Petty’s voice fills the room, I release a breath I didn’t even realize I was holding.

I was right. I’d like to say it’s solely because I know my girl, but it’s also because there’s something else she and I share outside of our noses and tendency to feel things too deeply. Heartache recognizes heartache.

And misery loves company.

“He said he thinks it’s best if we just keep things low-key until after winter formal,” she says on a heavy sigh. “He does this every year.”

She doesn’t necessarily need to tell me these things. I know what’s going on in my daughter’s life. I’ve watched for the past two years as she’s thrown herself at this one boy, fallen so head over heels in love with him that she’s forgotten which way is up. Then I’ve watched him toss her aside, walk away from her, completely eviscerate her heart and her mind by saying that he needs time. Once he’s had his time, he calls — he always calls — and explains that he needs her. And she comes running.

She always comes running.

I inhale, bracing myself. “Baby, you have to stop letting him—”

“What do you even know about it, mom?” She whips her head in my direction, her eyes on fire and her cheeks red. Her anger is palpable, even as Tom Petty plays on — a voice she and I usually find soothing. “Do you even know what it’s like? To love someone so much it hurts? So much it kills you?”

Any other parent would scoff. My parents did at one point. My mother didn’t believe me when I said the words, when I tried to explain to her that he was in my bones, that losing him was like losing a part of my soul.

But I know better than to scoff, to roll my eyes, to tell my girl that she’s being dramatic. Maybe she is just being dramatic, but isn’t that the point of being a teenager? To fall deeply in love once or twice or three times? Or to love one person with so much of your being that you don’t know where you end and where they begin? I can’t fault her for feeling, not when I have had those exact feelings, have shed the same tears, bled out for someone else because I cared more about them than I did myself.

Which is why I know that now is the time to have this conversation with her. She’s barely seventeen years old, her entire world has been perfect up to this point. Her father and I have laughed and danced in the kitchen and given her something to aspire to.

But her father is not the only man who holds my heart — something he has had to come to grips with throughout the course of our relationship. He’s not done it willingly, and at times I’ve watched him war with himself, with his emotions and his head and his heart, but he always comes back to me. I love him for a billion reasons, and I love him even more for coming back to me time and again.

He saved me.

“Do you know your daddy is only the second boy I ever kissed?” I ask her. I brace myself for her reaction, but she says nothing. Her eyes are inquisitive like her father’s. Her frown line across her forehead is so much like his. She’s the best and worst parts of both of us, and I am so honored to be her mother.

“You’re, like…” she pauses, chewing her top lip, just like her dad when he’s confused. “You’re beautiful, mom. How is that even possible?”

I huff out a laugh. “Oh, Darcy, baby… looks have nothing to do with it.” I pause. Feelings hit me all at once, the same ones he used to make me feel when he walked away, when he told me he needed time to think or room to breathe. My heart squeezes instinctively, the way it used to when he was near, across a crowded room staring at me, setting my world on fire.

Darcy twists and sits up, the way her godmother used to, and huddles next to me, our knees touching. She laces her fingers through mine, and I take an inventory of us both. She’s so tiny and delicate, so full of emotions and fire. I’m calmer now, though the song playing now has sparked something within me — the way he used to, when he knew I was nearby. I take a deep breathe and study my girl’s black nail polish and the scar on her index finger from the time she tried to bake Christmas cookies and burnt it on the stove. Even the way she scars is long-lasting, a testament to the fact that she is a unique, old soul, full of so much hurt and heart that any person who meets her is instantly affected, caught in her storm.

“Mom?” She says it tentatively. She knows me so well, understands my feelings and emotions in a way that only three other people have ever understood me. She’s my daughter, of course, and we understand the intricacies of our relationship. But she is also my best friend, much like her godmother. She is me, and I am her. “You don’t have to talk about it,” she tells me, her voice soft and understanding, the way I knew it would sound when she saw the mess I became even at the memory of the boy who stole a piece of my soul and never gave it back.

“I have to talk about it, baby girl,” I tell her with a sad smile. I give her hand a reassuring squeeze. “You have to know you’re not the only one to bleed for a boy who plays on your heartstrings.”

She studies me even more intently at that, looking for the slightest hint of what I may mean. She doesn’t know, though, because I’ve never told her. The only people who know about this story are the ones who lived it — me, of course, and her father, her godmother, and the boy who started it all.

The boy who stole pieces of me, and took the ones I offered to him willingly, hoarding them and guarding them from me, refusing to give them back.

“Once upon a time I thought a boy held the answers to all of my questions,” I tell her. “I was… well, I was actually fourteen at the time, so a little younger than you.” I wet my lips. I can feel my throat trying to dry and close up, the words trying to stay bottled up within me, fearing their escape. She needs to know, my heart whispers. She needs to know so she can let go.

“What happened?” She asks.

A million memories flash through my mind at her question — memories I’ve kept buried for so long. I recall them instantly, with clarity, in this moment. I recall them the way I would recall the words to my favorite song, right down to the bridge and the way the track skips on the CD I keep in my bedroom closet. It all comes back to me as if it happened yesterday, and not…

“Sixteen years ago, I thought a boy held the answer to all of my questions,” I answer her. I feel a tear slip down my cheek and swipe it away quickly. “I was in love with a boy who didn’t love me back, and it nearly killed me. I nearly let him kill me.”

“This story doesn’t have a happy ending, does it?” She asks me. “At least, not for you and whoever it is you’re talking about.”

I stare outside her window at the city, contemplating all the roads that brought me here, all the unconventional life events that ordered my steps and my path. Would I do it all again, if it brought me here, to this moment with my daughter and the steady voice of Tom Petty fueling me?

Damn straight.

I shake my head, another tear falling down my cheek. I raise the bottom of my left pants’ leg, to the answer to her question, to the best way I can explain what I am about to tell her.

Veni vidi amavi, it reads. We came, we saw, we loved. My best friend has an identical one on her left ankle.

And so does the boy who broke my heart.

“It doesn’t,” I finally answer her, smiling sadly as I stare at the words on my ankle. “But there was never a happy ending for us.”


better place

“I never knew things could be so bright.”

I turned to look at her.  She was standing at a spot in the Space Needle where the sun was brightly shining through.  She looked like an angel.  I forced myself to not think about the terrible, awful things I’d done to her.  She was beautiful, untouched.

Not even by me.

“You made everything bright again for me,” she said.  “You made my life a better place, Jake.  I can’t… it’s crazy, right?  Our relationship is so dysfunctional.  But… you made everything better.”

“I could say the same thing for you,” I told her.

“Yeah, well, you don’t say it often enough.”  I stood beside her as she looked out at Seattle.  It was an unusually sunny day in the city, but I wasn’t complaining.  It gave me a chance to take my girl out, see the sights.  We hadn’t had much time to ourselves.

I sighed.  That was my fault.

“Don’t do that.”  Her eyes never left the view.  Even without looking at me, she knew I was beating myself up.  “Don’t hate yourself because you have a job and you’re busy.”

“I heard that inflection,” I told her.  “You can get a job, Simone.  It’s not like—“

“It’s not like we’re moving back to New York in a month?”  She asked.  “What would be the point of taking a job when this is temporary?”

“We can stay out here,” I said.

She shook her head.  “I want to go home, Jake.  I miss my friends.  I miss my family.”  I saw her lips pout as she stared out at the view.  “I miss us.”

“We’re still the same people, Simone,” I said.  “We haven’t changed.  You’re still the girl I fell in love with one summer.  I’m still the—“

“The guy who put my heart back together and broke it all over again?”

“Are we having a fight?”  I asked.  “Is that what you want to do?  We can have a fight, but I’d prefer if we weren’t in public.”

“I’d prefer if I were back home, but alas, we can’t always get what we want.”

“You moved to Seattle with me, Simone,” I told her.  “I didn’t force you to come.  I told you that you could stay home and I’d be back.”

“We did the long distance thing already, Jake,” she said.  “We broke up twice.”

“Once,” I countered.

“So the day you slept with the TA for my history class was what, a break?”  She sighed.  “We aren’t Ross and Rachel.”

“I would hope not,” I said, remembering the episodes of Friends we watched together over the years.  “I don’t have the energy to chase you all the way to Paris.”

“She got off the plane,” Simone deadpanned.  “Granted, you haven’t had a movie night with me in forever, so you haven’t seen that episode recently.”

“Do you want to have it out here?”  I asked.  “I’m trying, Simone.  I’m really, really trying, and all you seem to want to do is argue.”

“I don’t want to argue, Jake,” she said sadly.  She finally turned to meet my eyes.  “I just… I wanted to tell you how much better things are with you, but this really is the most dysfunctional relationship I’ve ever been in, and yet it’s the best relationship I’ve ever been in.”  She leaned against me, resting her head on my chest.  I wrapped my arms around her, sheltering her as best I could – though as of late I hadn’t been doing a good job of that.  “You’re my one in ten million, and yet I can’t help but feel like you’re still looking for that.  Like I’m not enough, even though I moved out here, even though I put grad school on hold so we could be together out here.”

“I’m not,” I said firmly.  “I’m not looking for anything, Simone, outside of you.  Look, I’m sorry I keep fucking up.  I’m sorry I keep sleeping with anything in a dress.”  I chuckled bitterly.  “And I’m sorry I forced your hand to move out here, but I promise you, things are going to be different.  Things are going to be better when we move home.  You’re going to go to grad school and I’m going to be a hot detective and we’re going to rule the world together.”

She laughed.  “You sound awful sure of yourself.”

“Yeah, well…” I trailed off, searching for the right words.  “I can do anything with you.”

“Ditto,” she said.  “But… can you do me a favor and start telling me these things without me having to almost start an all-out brawl in public?”

I smiled at her.  “Why don’t you tell me?”

“No girl wants to tell her boyfriend that she wants to be appreciated,” she said.  “I just… I want you to think of you, Jake.  I want you to do what’s necessary so you can get ahead, but I want you to think of me, too.  Of us.”

I kissed her forehead, hugging her tight to me.  I remembered in the early days of our relationship when I was so scared of crushing her – how tiny she was, how fragile she looked.  But she was stronger now, full of sugar and spice and piss and vinegar.  I’d put her through hell, but she stuck by me in spite of it.  I shoved my hand in my pocket, felt the velvet box that I’d been holding for a year.  I was waiting for the right moment, wanted to do things right by her, make up for all the shit I put her through.  Now seemed as good a time as any…

“Oh!”  She squealed, releasing me.  I dropped the box, my hand flying out of my pocket.  “Can we get sushi and red vines and binge watch that new fairytale TV show?  Hadley says it’s super complex and you have to watch everything together.”

I smiled.  There would be a better moment, less public, when I could finally ask her to spend the rest of her life with me.  “Yeah, let’s get out of here.  Want to pick up sushi on the way home or have it delivered?”

She shrugged, looping her arm through mine.  “I don’t care.  Though the sushi place that delivers has those spring rolls you really like.  Hey, Hads said that Cinderella makes an appearance, too…”

I smiled as she chatted away about the new show and all the characters she was excited to see.  She was a simple girl – woman, really.  She’d grown so much since that first night on the beach, and I’d had the privilege of watching her grow.  She was beautiful then, but now… she was even more radiant, bright, full of life.

And it didn’t matter if it happened tonight or another eight years from now, I knew I would be spending forever with her.

I will be okay.

I don’t like to talk about relationships.

No, really.  I don’t.  I hate talking about them because I don’t know what I’m doing.  I overanalyze situations.  I overthink things.  I don’t necessarily make myself sick over it, but it gets to the point where I feel completely helpless.  Am I saying too much?  Should I text him first?  How soon is too soon to tell the family?

This, my friends, is what keeps me up at night.  I know, I know… total first world problem.

But I’m actually finally getting “back out there,” whatever that’s supposed to mean, and to be quite honest, dating is scary.  I spent most of high school dating my way through the starting lineup (joking – I mostly dated the bad boys in school).  After high school, I got engaged.  When that ended, I found myself in a new relationship – one that, for all intents and purposes, lasted roughly eight years.  In the moments when I wasn’t with that person, I was dating other people.  Most notably, I was engaged again in 2013.  When that ended, I went back to the safe place, the security of the eight year relationship.  I’ve never been “alone.”

Though I can’t say what I’ve been for the last almost year is alone.  After realizing that the eight year relationship was most definitely not going anywhere (he had a girlfriend, come to find out after he’d kissed me and told me this time was going to be different) I decided to strike out on my own.  Since then, I’ve been surrounded by the people I love the most.  I’ve been discovering myself, immersing myself in my writing, in music, and in Jesus.  I’ve found myself, really – what I like, what I dislike, what I believe, what my convictions are.  I’ve been throwing myself back into my passions and having fun with my friends and not giving a second thought to the fact that there hasn’t been a romantic interest in my life.  I haven’t been alone, I suppose; I’ve just been single.

And happily so, I might add.  I didn’t really start to “get back out there” until a few months ago.  I went on a date with a guy that I talked to previously, but it never went anywhere because of aforementioned eight year relationship guy.  He was nice, though a bit too young for my taste.  I don’t mind dating guys who are younger – don’t get me wrong – but I do have an issue when it’s evident that they’re too young.  I know plenty of 24 year old men who are more mature than 30 year old men.  It just depends on the person.

So, after a string of bad dates, ranging from the guy who was too young for me to the guy who just wanted to have a fling because I seemed “like a good time,” I retreated again.  I wasn’t yet ready.  I couldn’t bear the heartache of being told that I was nothing more than a good time.  I needed more time – time to build myself up, time to keep on writing, time to keep on discovering myself.  I wasn’t in a rush.

And I’m still not in a rush.  Don’t get me wrong – a husband and babies are all in the plan.  I may make jokes about the fact that I need a baby as much as Pamela Anderson needs another boob job, but I really do want to have kids one day (so much so that I looked at the sperm bank online, but that’s another story for another day).  I just know that it’ll all happen in God’s time.  I can’t rush what He wants, and He doesn’t want to rush me, either.  It’s a delicate balance between Him and me.  I’ll know when the time is right.

But none of that stopped me from talking again to another man – a man who has faced his fair share of demons.  He’s been in worse shape than me, has walked in a valley that I do not believe he’d wish on his worst enemy.  My heart hurts for him even now, as I type this.  He’s the kind of guy I could certainly see myself with.  He’s been on my heart for the last year, since the last time we spoke and I told him, plainly, that if he wasn’t looking for what I was looking for, we needed to part ways.

Which brings us to about a week and a half ago.  I was driving to Charlotte to visit my best friend, and was stuck in traffic.  I know most of you are wondering what I possibly could have been thinking, getting on the road on a weekend when the east coast was under threat of a hurricane, but my actions cannot be explained.  I needed to see my best friend, and I wasn’t above making the drive to go see her.  Some people understand me better than others – and she’s one of them.

But nevertheless, there I was, in traffic, stopped, sitting and looking around at the other drivers wondering what they were all thinking (spoiler alert: we were all bored out of our skulls wondering when we could drive again) when my phone chimed.  I never EVER have the sound on my phone, but decided to have it on for the drive down so that I would know if my grandma tried to contact me.  It wasn’t my grandma sending me a text, but this beautiful, troubled soul I described above.  He was driving down to Hagerstown for something (I didn’t ask, he didn’t tell) and said the drive down made him think of me.

He and I had something of an odd relationship.  Most of our time was spent in small, quiet diners or sitting in either of our cars at the top of the mountain.  Our time together was never rushed.  We would talk, or we’d sit in silence and take in our surroundings.  We’d have dinner, or we’d have coffee and discuss what was going on in our lives (if we were so inclined).  We’d plan it days in advance, or he would randomly text me to tell me he was driving down to come see me.  There was nothing constant about it, save for how easy it was to be with him.  He didn’t push me, and I didn’t push him.  We moved at our own pace, in our own time.

But he didn’t want a commitment (isn’t that how it always goes?) and just wanted to push the sexual boundaries on our relationship.  I couldn’t do it, though.  I couldn’t fathom putting myself in a position like that again, after spending the better part of eight years of my life with someone who just wanted sex from me as well.  I cared deeply for this man, but I cared about myself more.  I issued the ultimatum, and he decided that no relationship with me at all was better than a committed relationship.

I don’t begrudge him that.  Like I said, he had plenty of demons he was facing at the time.  I cared deeply for him – and still do – and I couldn’t bear to put any pressures on him that he didn’t need.  My ultimatum was not issued in the hopes that he would just choose me, but rather so he would understand that I couldn’t give him what he wanted.  I already knew he couldn’t give me what I wanted.  When we ended, I was something of a wreck.  I was fine on the outside, doing my work and spending time with my family and taking care of myself, but on the inside I was a mess.  In hindsight, I think my concern for him was what caused my inner chaos.  I was worried if he’d be okay, if he needed me, how he was doing, what he was doing…

But one day I realized I couldn’t keep doing that to myself.  I needed to worry about myself.  I needed to move on.  I needed to let him fix what needed to be fixed and either come back to me, or make someone else happy.  It wasn’t my place to take care of him.  It was my place to take care of me.

All of this information flashed in my mind when I saw the text from him.  I panicked, of course, and wondered if I should even respond.  But I’m a bleeding heart.  I don’t like to ignore people.  Even when my coworkers text me and I can’t relate to what they’re saying, I try to tell them something to let them know that I’ve read their text messages.  I get Facebook messages from people who want to make small talk and I respond, even though our conversations are brief.  I responded to him, told him I was driving to Charlotte and that I hoped he was well.

And that was that… or so I thought.

It was less than a week later that I was sitting with my phone in my hands, wondering if the decision I was about to make was the right one.  I had no pen and paper, so I made a pro/con list in my head.  I weighed the odds – whether he’d even want to talk to me at all, what the impact would be on me if I talked to him, if I could handle him walking away again if this went south – and sent the text.

It was something simple – “Hey there.  How are you?  Sorry we couldn’t talk last week.”  He responded in seconds, telling me that he was doing well, was working a lot, looking at a promotion, and he understood I couldn’t talk.  I was driving (more or less) and my safety was more important than talking to him.  He asked how I was doing.  I told him I was well, enjoying my position, loving every minute of my job even though it presented its own set of unique challenges.  I told him I was happy.  He asked if I was seeing anyone.  I told him I wasn’t.  I asked if he was seeing anyone, and he said he wasn’t.

Okay, so we made it over that hurdle.

I wasn’t sure what direction I wanted the conversation to go in, wasn’t sure I could stomach another rejection at the hands of this man.  Instead, I let him lead.  He would say something about going out, and I would tell him I wasn’t looking for the casual thing he was looking for when we last spoke.  He said he wasn’t just looking for something casual, and that he’d missed me.  Before I could even respond to that message, he told me that he’d finally taken the time to think about his emotions, and he’d missed me so much.  He wanted to see me.  He wanted to spend time with me and see if there was anything between us.

My heart… jumped to my throat.

I won’t go over all the gory details of our conversations since then.  We emailed a lot because he said that’s easier for him when he’s at work.  We exchanged a few more text messages, and then… silence.  The silence came out of nowhere (for me) but I think I started noticing it when I was trying to hammer down plans for us.  I didn’t push – knowing too well that pushing this man will not get me anywhere, and also knowing that this man doesn’t need someone nagging him – but I did ask, once, when he wanted to get together.  He responded an hour later, saying this week would work.  I told him to let me know, and left it at that.

And then I didn’t hear from him for two days.

I used to be the girl who was “in your face,” always pestering and hounding and trying to find out what a guy thought of me.  Thankfully, as I got older, I managed to rid myself of that habit.  When I didn’t hear from him for an hour that night, I didn’t push him.  I let him answer on his own.  When our conversation ended that night, I decided to let him talk to me the next day, because I didn’t want him to think I needed to talk to him every single day.  I was okay on the days he didn’t talk to me, but my heart soared on days when I saw that he’d sent me a text message.  I wasn’t quite putty in his hands, but the man who’d stolen my heart was stealing it away again… or so I thought.

I’m now at day three with radio silence from him.  But unlike the last time this happened, I’m not pushing him to talk to me.  I’m not hounding him and blowing up his phone with text messages or his work email account with emails.  I’m not begging him to spend time with me.  Over the last year, I took some time for introspection.  I didn’t want to be that girl – the desperate one who would go out with a guy at any time, no matter what else was going on.  I didn’t want to be the annoying girl whose name was tossed around like a joke.  I hated being that girl.

So… I stopped being that girl.  This silence from him is enough for me to close the book again, but the last week and a half of having him back in my life has also given me a glimpse into the kind of man I want, too.  When he said we could see each other, he wanted us to meet half way.  He wanted to “hang out” and “see what we could get into.”  He wanted casual, even if he wasn’t saying it.  Which was another reason why I didn’t pursue him further, and allowed him to talk to me when he wanted.  I wasn’t readily available for him, either, not wanting to encourage something that was not going to happen.  If I’m going to expect more from the guys I date, I need to expect more from myself as well.

But along with expecting more from myself, I also expect more for myself.  I don’t want to “meet halfway” and “hang out.”  I want to be picked up at my door, and maybe have my car door opened for me (flowers are always optional, if only because I’m allergic to them).  I want someone who can’t wait to talk to me, even if it can only be a five minute conversation where he tells me that he’s going into work and he’ll see me on the other side of it.  I want a godly man, one who can be both my partner and my leader – which, trust me, is not something that came easy to me.  I was always the rebellious one, promising myself that my wedding vows would say “love, honor, and cherish” instead of “love, honor, and obey.”  But as I got older, I saw the value in that type of relationship, and I know that having that godly partner and guide is, truly, my heart’s desire.

But perhaps most important of all the things that I want – all the things that I deserve, really – is someone who will wait for me.  I can be honest and say that I’ve given my heart and pieces of myself away to men who didn’t deserve it.  I’ve had my heart broken so many times I lost count.  I’ve been used, and I’ve allowed myself to be used, albeit blindly in some instances.  By saying this, I am not saying I demand someone who has been wholly sexually pure, but that I deserve someone who sees the value in waiting, even if he hasn’t done it previously.  That’s the reason why I got myself another purity ring – to remind myself that though I’d made mistakes, I could stop now, and take the purity vow and wait.  I can do that because God promised that He would forgive, and I have sought His forgiveness – and continue to seek both His forgiveness and His grace daily.  I seek His guidance, too, and I think that is why I’ve been able to come the realization of all the things I deserve and want so desperately.

Maybe I won’t hear from this tired soul again.  Maybe he’ll drift away – as I assume he has already done, and do not begrudge him that – and that will be the end of our story.  Maybe he’ll get it together in the future, and will be ready for all the things I want.  I won’t be unhappy either way, because I know that whatever happens with him is what’s supposed to happen.

But I also know I won’t be pursuing him.  I won’t badger him, and I won’t put my heart out on my sleeve for him.  I’ll be cordial if I hear from him, and will probably delete his number one day down the line if or when my current phone becomes obsolete (let’s face it, with all this advanced technology, it’s a possibility!) but I won’t be “that girl.”

At this point, I think honestly I’m going to retreat again.  I know my heart well, and while it isn’t broken like the first time he walked away from me, it does hurt a little.  I lose a little hope each time a new match doesn’t work out – even if it’s something as simple as a bad date with a guy who’s a little too young for me.  I need to refocus, center myself, and go back to the drawing board.  Maybe I’ll go on another date in six months, or maybe I’ll still be single.  The thing I’ve learned from all of this is that no matter what happens, IT WILL BE OKAY.

I will be okay.  I will move forward, even if I am moving forward without a significant other.  I will be happy, because my happiness is not dependent on a man.  I will be whole, because I refuse to give parts of myself to another person again outside of the bonds of marriage.

I will be me, because that’s all I can be.  And I WILL BE OKAY.