I Could Lie

March 7, 2008
By Shandi Sigler, Dallas, OR

I could lie, and tell you that I loved him from the moment I saw him. That he caught my eye across a crowded room, and from that moment on, I wanted nothing more than to be in his arms. But I'd rather tell you the truth, from beginning to end. Starting off with things like... I hated him when we first met, and there are more days than not that I wish I had gone with my first instinct. But I think back, and it was worth it. Not because of the memories I made with him, or because I still think he could be "the one" ; but because I learned more about myself in those two years than any of the other 15 that I've lived. And even if that was the only good thing I got out of our relationship, I consider it well worth it.
I met Jeff when I was a freshman and he was a junior. I thought he was obnoxious, and the kind of guy I would never date. But our paths crossed numerous times, and somehow along the way, we became friends. Friends was never something we were good at. It was always all or nothing. Needless to say, we were officially together by the end of the year.
The next two years were full of ups and downs, to say the least. The first summer we spent together was very memorable. We went to the fair, watched the parade, spent time with our families and just got to know each other. I was afraid that when we went back to school, our focus would be on everything else, and our relationship would take a backseat, and eventually end. He told me not to worry, and that we'd be fine. But we were soon faced with the realities of high school, and it was only about a month into first semester that we began to have problems. He didn't always have time to spend with me, and to be honest, after a long day, I didn't always want to spend time with him.This is probably a good time to mention that I'm an only child, and although I'm not spoiled, I do like a lot of time to myself. Our first breakup happened at the homecoming dance. Of course I was upset, but I was also relieved.
We ended up talking about everything, and getting back together a week later. He made me happy, and I didn't want to lose that. Things went well for the next month before we started having problems again. It all came back to the same issue of not having the time or energy to spend together. We broke up on my birthday, and I was sure that this time, he wouldn't be back. We didn't say one word to each other for five months. During the time that we were broken up, he graduated early and went to boot camp to prepare for the Marines. I casually dated another guy, but thought about Jeff a lot during that time.
In the middle of April, I got an email from him. I had heard that he was injured in boot camp and sent home early, but I wasn't expecting to hear from him. He told me that he had thought about me every day, and wanted to get together and catch up. I agreed, and we planned to have lunch the next day. I was surprised about how nervous I was to see him. But as soon as he put his arms around me, everything fell back into place. We got back together a second time, and continued to date throughout the summer. Our relationship almost seemed seasonal. As the school year started approaching, I was again worrying about how we would handle it. But we swore up and down that this year would be different.
Junior year proved to be a bigger obstacle than I had expected. There was lots of homework, and I was involved in other activities outside of school. I usually only had time for Jeff on the weekends. This wasn't a big deal to me, because like I said, I liked to spend time by myself, and seeing him only a few times a week was okay with me. Unfortunately, it wasn't okay with him. He often complained about not seeing me enough. He didn't understand that although I loved him, my whole life didn't revolve around him. I often told him that I was an independent person, and didn't depend on him for my happiness.
One day while I was in school, he sent me a text saying, " We need to hang out tonight." I replied and told him that I couldn't, because I had a paper to write and a test the next day. He told me that if our relationship was going to work, he HAD to see me that night.He said he couldn't handle only seeing me twice a week. I told him that he was blowing things way out of proportion and it wasn't as big of a deal as he was making it. We went back and forth about it for a while, when he finally told me that I needed to make a decision that night about whether or not I wanted to be with him. At that point, I had no idea what I wanted to do.
By the time I got home that day, I had a million things running through my head. I knew that this was yet another crossroads for me and Jeff ; and it was up to me to pick a road. I sat down at my computer to check my email. I just wanted to distract myself for a few minutes. I had an email from Jeff, and I opened it up, expecting the worst. But the worst wasn't quite what I expected. Instead of telling me that it was over, and that he didn't want me anymore, he did exactly the opposite. He told me he loved me, and that he wanted to work things out. I know it sounds like it'd be just what I wanted to hear. But it wasn't. He told me flat out that he wanted me to depend on him, and only him. His exact words were, "There's no future in being independent. There's no happiness in it either." He told me I had to make a choice between my independence and him. But really, there wasn't much of a choice to be made. Without a second thought, I sent him a text and said, "Telling me to make a choice between being with you and being independent was the wrong thing to do. I'm done."
I didn't hear from him for about 3 months. He sent me a message one day, telling me that he had some stuff of mine and he wanted to come over and give it to me. From past experience, I knew what this was about. I told him that I thought it was best if we didn't talk or see each other anymore. His only reply was, "Okay." and I thought that he understood. About two weeks later, on Valentines Day, I was sitting at home when the doorbell rang. I usually look out the window for a car, but for whatever reason, I didn't this time. I opened the door to find Jeff, with a box in his hands, and a scared look on his face. He smiled and immediately started talking, not giving me any chance to get a word in. "Hi Happy Valentines Day I just thought I'd bring your stuff by and I got you a card and I know you hate me and don't want to talk but I just thought that maybe you'd want your stuff and I made you a dvd and...Happy Valentines Day. How are you doing?" I honestly didn't know what to say to him. I just shook my head and grabbed the box. I mumbled a quick, "Thanks." and went back inside, closing the door behind me.
When I say that if you give him an inch, he'll take a mile, I'm not exaggerating. I was barely to the living room when I got a text from him saying, "Thanks for letting me talk to you! :) " This guy did not quit. I chose not to respond, and tried to forget about the whole thing. But that got a little more difficult at about midnight, when he started texting me nonstop, telling me things like I was his best friend, and nobody knew him like I did. Again, I decided it was best to ignore him. A week later, he sent me an email saying, "I just want you to know that I'm always here for you, and I want us to be able to talk." By this time, I'd really had enough. I emailed him back, being very blunt, and said that I wanted nothing to do with him. I haven't heard from him since. Out of the many things I learned from my relationship with Jeff, the most important was to be true to myself. Yes, I loved him and yes, I would've walked a thousand miles to see us work out. But I couldn't change who I was because he wanted me to. I did many things for him, and for us, but this was something I needed to do for myself. Of course I still think about him, but there hasn't been one day that I've regretted my decision.
I have a box in my closet full of old letters and pictures from him. On certain days, I'm halfway tempted to open it up, and take a trip down memory lane. But I know what that road is like, and I've been down it too many times. I have a quote saved on my computer from one of my favorite books, "My Sister's Keeper", by Jodi Picoult. "The moment that she came to love me back and depend on me as much as I depended on her, she would no longer be a truly independent spirit. No way in hell was I going to be the one to take the quality away from her." Whenever I'm missing him, I read this quote. Then I go back and read the email he wrote me that day, and think about the choice that I made. He always seemed to be the boy that I could never let go of, and for the first time, I walked away.

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