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The Caged Bird
“What happened to you and him?”
I'm not exaggerating when I say that everyone has asked me that question, and I can understand why; we were perfect. Notice the past tense in the word "were". We fit so well and our personalities complimented each other like yin and yang. He didn't even have to do anything to get me hooked, his character did it all so effortlessly... I guess that's why they call it falling in love, and I fell fast without thinking twice if there would be someone at the end to catch me.
“If you guys barley see each other, what do you guys even do?”
Skype dates, video games and nightly phone calls were all we had, but I loved it all. Setting up my laptop on my bed in the afternoon and web-camming with him so it'd seem like we're taking a nap together, staying up until 2AM on a school night getting to level 36 on Kino Der Toten on Call of Duty Black Ops' zombies and falling asleep every night to his heavy breath on the phone as he falls asleep; I still vividly remember it all. I loved getting to know every aspect of him, as all we could really do was talk. We talked about everything from our goals and dreams to our heartaches and regrets; to this day, he is still the person that knows me the best. Long distance relationships aren't easy and mine wasn't an exception: it's even more difficult when I'm merely a high school student and at the time had no car to drive to visit him or a job to buy a train ticket. Wanting to see him but not being able to do anything about it was the definition of devastation. When we would webcam, it seemed like we were separated by just a laptop screen, when in reality, we were more than 150 miles apart. The absence of physical affection was draining as I would see couples everywhere with their fingers linked and their smiles posted from cheek to cheek; it made me miss him. His warm hands, his welcoming smell, his dimple that would peek out when he smiled. Sure, I could have dated someone who went to the same school as me and take walks with him to class that ended in a kiss like a normal high school girl, but I was stubborn and thought that nobody could make me feel the way that he did, even though sometimes, the way he made me feel wasn't ideal.
“You guys are always happy, you are perfect for each other,” was one of the many compliments I would receive on a regular basis about my relationship with him.
“Thank you!” I'd reply every time with so much enthusiasm that it'd seem like I was faking it.
And most of the time, I was. Yes, hearing about how cute people thought we were was motivational and pushed me to keep the up the image of a “perfect relationship” but at the same time, it hurt because I knew we were nothing close to what people imagined us to be. The pictures were all they had to form their opinions. The pictures of us from the day I met him at a break dance competition in the winter of 2010, to mirror pictures we'd take in Forever 21 every time we would go to the SouthCenter mall, to when I joined his family when they went to the Great Wolf Lodge, to him helping me cut my cake at my sixteenth birthday, to us posing in front of the Columbia River on the day of Heritage's prom of 2013. All of the pictures on FaceBook and Tumblr were of happy moments, they were a blanket covering what really went on in our relationship; things I wasn't allowed to talk about to anybody. If I was caught attempting to vent to someone about our relationship problems or if I made a posted something on the internet that would hint that something was wrong in my love life, I would get spammed with texts and calls until I put my happy face back on; so nobody knew of the pillowcases covered in tears, phone calls just to get yelled at, degrading words that tore me down and made me the self-conscious girl I am today, cheating and lies that made me ask myself over and over again:
“What happened to us?”
I thought it was normal, the sadness I felt. Every relationship had its hardships and mine just seemed to have more than the average. Still, I knew those “hardships” weren't a good excuse; they didn't explain the cheating when I was faithful, the finger pointing when I was innocent, the hurtful name calling when I did nothing to deserve it. I was aware of the treatment I was getting, I wasn't blind. I was scared. Scared to lose him because I thought he was all I had.
He took everything away from me. Actually, I gave everything up for him. It was my choice. I let him isolate me. I gave up singing because he thought I was trying to attract other guys. I quit dancing because he thought I was trying to show off. I couldn't cheer because he thought the uniforms were too revealing. I stopped dressing cute because he thought I was trying to impress someone else. I allowed his insecurities dictate my decisions. After school free time, weekends, and holiday breaks, all spent trapped in my room where nobody could touch me. I was a caged bird. The bonds that were once unbreakable between me and my family members and friends were broken like a mirror that cursed someone with seven years of bad luck... The only people I talked to were my parents, brother, my closest cousin and the few select friends he approved of. I didn't dare break his rules because I knew that he could up and leave anytime he wanted, and he was more aware of that idea than I was, which is why he could manipulate me so easily. I did every single thing he wanted no matter how stupid it was because I believed that if I lost him, I'd have nobody as I pushed everybody else away, so I held on, even though the happiness that once filled my heart was long gone.
Nothing was the same no matter how hard I tried to reignite the spark in our relationship. Mailing him gifts like a gift basket filled of his favorite goodies like Ferrero Rocher's and Godiva's milk chocolate balls and sending him sweet, long texts to wake up to start his day off right were some of the things I tried. I worked damn hard to try and make him happy and bring back the love that once captivated the both of us. I did my best to be a girlfriend he could be proud of because I had faith in us, I was so sure that we were lifetime lovers and that our problems were just a bump in the road … Man, I sure felt stupid when I read through his FaceBook messages.
“I miss you so much, we need to hang out more! I love you, goodnight,” he told his ex, who he hung out with a few hours prior to messaging her.
“I know we do. Maybe this weekend? My mom says she misses you! I love you too,” she wrote, every single word made it harder to see as my eyes started to swell up with tears.
I sat there for hours in the uncomfortable computer chair my mom got from a garage sale, just rereading their conversation and asking myself what I did wrong. I was overwhelmed with emotions, confusion, frustration, sadness, hopelessness and most of all, anger. I pounded my phone screen on my desk, yelling as if every tear that streamed out of my eyes hurt me. I drew the unlock pattern on my now shattered phone screen and called him with my anger circulating through me, causing me to make the impulsive decisions that I was. The phone rang, and my deafening thoughts filled the off-peaks of the dial tone: I was tired of busting my a** for someone who just took all my hard work for granted. I was tired of crying every night and feeling alone. I was tired of being in a relationship where I wasn't happy.
“What do you want?” He said, his voice forcing fear into me.
“I saw the message of you and her. I thought you said you'd stop. I've already caught you cheating once, and again? What do you think I am, stupid? I'm putting all I can to make things between us good again and this is what I get back from you?! You KNOW I don’t like you talking to her, let alone hanging out with her,” I tried to stand my ground and be strong, but my voice was still shaky, I was afraid of him.
“I don't know what you're talking about, you're delirious. You know she’s my best friend, and if anyone is a cheater, it's you. You slut,” he brushed what I said off like it was nothing.
“Who cares if she’s your best friend?! I can’t trust you around her. You kissed her while you’re with me. And I haven't cheated on you once. I rarely even talk to any guys at all, even my guy friends because of your insecure a** thinking I'm gonna sleep with them even if I just text them saying hi. You have my password for Tumblr and FaceBook, look through everything and you'll find nothing because I'm faithful to you and I always have been from the start. I don't even have a damn Instagram because of you not wanting guys to hit on me or like my pictures. You're the one that changed your password on Tumblr and FaceBook so I can't see anything, are you hiding something? I mean, you've done it before, you've cheated on me before. Do you think I'm dumb enough to believe you won't do it again? Oh, and by the way I know you have an Instagram, funny how you won't let me have one. Talk about unfair,” I couldn't believe what was coming through my mouth. I was letting everything spill out, all of the things I was afraid to say finally coming into light, and it felt great.
“Go ahead and leave then, I bet you have somebody waiting on the other line anyways. Go dress in what ever slutty clothes you have and reel in guys like the selfish attention whore you are. I never loved you anyways; I can do so much better than you. You're lucky I even stayed with your a** as long as I did, I tried so hard for you and you did nothing but break my heart. I regret everything, I wish I never met you. You taught me that all girls all the same. You make me wanna puke –” I hung up.
I had to catch my breath. Slut, selfish, attention whore, cheater … I knew I wasn't any of those things but those words still hurt so bad. I was already on the ground, those words were just kicks to my side. My heart felt empty, my head felt dizzy and my body felt so weak. I climbed my emotionally drained body up the ladder of my loft bed and laid on my back, staring at the ceiling as Pandora played an unfitting happy tune on my Maroon 5 radio. So many thoughts suffocating my mind, but one stayed prominent: I wasn’t crying.
So, that was it.
Those were the last words I ever heard from him. I haven't communicated with him ever since and I don't plan on it. Funny how I thought that if I lost him, my world would crash down. Ever since we broke up, I have become closer with my family, and my friends forgave me for going MIA and they have reassured me that they're there if I need listening ear. I have also got a job and my license along with a car. Life has definitely gotten better, even though I feel lonelier at times. People ask me if I miss him, and I can honestly say I don't. I still think about him time to time, but I can't forgive him for how he made me feel. I don't regret the two and a half years we spent together, because I enjoyed it and it was a good learning experience. I wish that we could have ended things on good terms instead of him hating my guts and telling the world I'm the “reason he doesn't want to be in a relationship ever again” as he said on his Ask.FM. No matter what though, I'm thankful for him because he taught me the most important lesson in love; to not lose yourself just because you found someone. If someone loves you, they’ll let you spread your wings and enjoy your journey through life with you, not cage you up and keep you away from life’s limitless possibilities.