Better Off This Way

This weekend I got to thinking about you again. It doesn’t happen often, but it happens nonetheless. What do you expect? I can’t just forget about the person who was once everything to me, and I’ve used the way I felt about you and the way we were together as a baseline for a lot of what I feel now. I learned a lot from you, as much as I don’t like to admit it.

I remember what it felt like to finally have someone look at me the way you did. To smile at me like you did. For once, somebody chose to spend their time with me when they could be doing anything else. Like napping. It was such a strange concept that you would stick around for hours to get to know me. It still baffles me.

You were the first one to think my quirks were cute. And your friend let it slip that you two stalked my Instagram when we first met. I was giddy knowing that you didn’t just think of me as that new girl.

But being with you scared the crap out of me. You were older, and I didn’t know what to expect. Or what you expected. No one had ever wanted me before, so I didn’t know how to return the favor. I was afraid that once I gave you what you wanted you would stop wanting to love me for me and just love me so you could use me. Love was a foreign concept to me then, and to be completely honest, it still is to me now.

Sometimes I just felt like a piece in your game. You wanted to mold me into a girl who loved what you did and not let me be my own person. I had been trying so hard to find myself again, but I think I was losing myself to you. I loved you so much that I didn’t realize it. I look back now and wonder how on earth I could have missed it.

I think a part of me knew what you were doing. But you were my first real everything and maybe I thought that was how it was supposed to be. I was supposed to like the things you liked. And you know what? A year and a half later and I still find myself rocking out to A Day to Remember and checking up on Nascar rankings and keeping up with the latest on the Kings. Breaking Bad and House of Cards have inspired me. You brainwashed me, but it wasn’t always bad.

You never wanted what I wanted. I tried to bring you into my world but it was too high school for you. To be honest, it was too high school for me, as well, but I had to be part of it because I didn’t know any better. You tried to teach me that there was more than the petty drama, but you came with your own. You tried to stop me from growing into one of them because you wanted me to be one of you.

I couldn’t show you my baggage because you would have thought it was stupid. Hell, I thought it was stupid. But it was me, and it was a me that you never showed interest in. You didn’t get why it hurt me so much that you asked me to give up New York. You refused to consider letting me further than an hour drive from you. You wanted to rip me from my dreams, and you couldn’t understand why I had them in the first place. You didn’t understand why I was suffocating in my own home.

I wanted you to just break my heart already…get it over with. You were slowly mangling it into something I didn’t recognize. I wanted you to cheat on me so I could let go of you once and for all. Because despite all the bad things, I still loved you for reasons nobody understood. You still made me feel special. You still made me feel wanted. You were the only one who told me I was beautiful, and in my sick mind, that meant everything. Even though you made me cry my eyes out with break up threats if I went off to college, your smile still melted my heart.

But one day I couldn’t take it anymore.

I couldn’t let you give me false hope when you said you would move in with me after my first year. I couldn’t let one smile erase all my tears. I couldn’t let your goofy dancing in the car blind me from realizing that I could never be who you wanted me to be. I couldn’t give up my wild, big city dreams for someone who couldn’t dream outside of home.

We wanted different things, and that was our downfall. And then you took the sliver of respect I still had for you and chucked it off Mount Everest. She is sitting there, halfway up, waving at me like she won some sort of prize. I know better now.

I will never again be able to look at you like I did that first day, but hey, neither of us are those people anymore, so maybe that’s okay. I learned a lot from you about myself and about what I want and what I deserve. A year and a half later, and I am giddy again. I am nervous and anxious and overanalyzing everything, but I can’t stop smiling. My head is spinning in the most blissful and dizzying way.

I am learning how to be happy again. I am learning to love myself. That was something you couldn’t give me. I had to figure it out on my own.

In your words, have a nice life. No sarcasm, not cynical. Just be better to the next one than you were to me.

-Ash

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