This Is NOT a Love Story
"I suddenly had a newfound love, for love..."
“This is a story of boy meets girl. But you should know upfront, this is not a love story.”- 500 Days of Summer
It’s been a little over a year and a half since I have been with my “ex-boyfriend” Griffin. We began to date just before I graduated high school. He was 20-years-old at the time and was already living on his own in an apartment down in Long Beach. Griffin has cystic fibrosis, an inherited disease that causes severe damage to the lungs and other organs. My favorite thing about him was his optimistic outlook on life, and his willingness to fight and beat his disorder, for which there is no cure.
I wanted to spend all of my time with him. He was the first boy in my life to ever show a true interest and care for me, and not want to keep me a secret. The second I got a car, I was always driving down to LB to see him. I even left my own senior breakfast early to hang out with him, and often lied to my parents to spend nights with him. (Sorry, Mom.) I suddenly had a newfound love, for love. I didn’t despise it anymore. I wasn’t scared anymore. It was something I had wanted for as long as I could remember and now I had it.
Fast forward a couple weeks to the night when he asked me to be his girlfriend. There’s a word I’d never heard before. I had never been given the chance or the consideration to be anybody’s girlfriend, and now here’s my chance, with the guy I’m head over heels for. So why did I say no?
I didn’t say no right away. In the moment, emotions and alcohol answered the question for me and for about 12 hours, I was Griffin’s girlfriend. It wasn’t until later that I began second guessing everything. It all happened so fast for me. I had never been anyone’s girlfriend. I had just barely graduated high school, just started a new job, was about to be a college freshman; was I ready to commit myself to a serious relationship? Something I had never done before?
Believe me when I tell you I am a pro at self sabotaging. If anyone knows how to ruin anything good in my life, it’s me. Griffin could sense my hesitance when it came to being his girlfriend, and it resulted in him pulling away. There really was no big fight, no hysterical end to our “relationship.” It just ended. Maybe it upset me a little that there was no big fight; that there was no fight to keep me there. He just kind of let me go.
For months, I hated myself. The movies of our memories played over and over again in my brain and I kept thinking, “WTF is wrong with me??” I let something so good slip right through my fingers, and now I’m back to square one, swiping left on Tinder and avoiding any real signs leading to “love.” Despite my aching heart, my pride got the better of me and I refused to message him, to tell him how much I missed him. I don’t know why I wouldn’t let myself miss him. I think I would be embarrassed and almost ashamed of myself if I was the one who ended things and then came running back.
In the end, however, it was what was best for me. After several months of not speaking, I was doing well in school, excelling in my job, enjoying life with my friends and my family. Still no contact with him, but never stopped missing him. I figured that since I had gotten my life together, I was ready; so I swallowed my pride, dropped the bait, and hoped it would catch.
All it took was a Facebook friend request. The next morning, I had a message. My stomach flipped upside down. I truly wasn’t expecting a response; but there it was, and he was the one to initiate it.
The conversation flowed like normal, like nothing had ever happened; like no time had passed. His disease often lands him in the hospital for weeks at a time, and because he moved out to California on his own, he is alone most of the time. After talking for a while, we set a time and day for me to come and visit him in the hospital. A whirlwind of feelings overwhelmed me. Even during the beginning of our “relationship,” I had never seen him in the hospital. I couldn’t really tell you why. I guess it was just a stage we had never gotten to. Now, after months of not speaking, the first time I’m going to see him again will be in his hospital room.
I left work early, grabbed some dinner for the both of us, and headed down to Long Beach Memorial. It was a weird feeling, seeing him lying in his sweats, watching TV in his hospital room that overlooked the city. He didn’t look sick, but then again, that was just how Griffin was, always looking on the brighter side of things and taking things how they come. Everything was completely normal. I think that’s another one of my favorite things about him—my comfort level when I’m with him. He was like my best friend, and I always enjoyed spending time with him. We ate our dinner and watched a little bit of TV (not much else to do when you’re cooped up in a hospital room). Griffin was granted an hour of free time where he was allowed to leave the hospital and hang out. He had the bright idea of using his hour to head down to a Mexican Cantina in downtown LB. We arrived fairly late, around 10:30 or so, just as the cantina was transitioning from restaurant to bar/nightclub. They didn’t notice I was underage and we were able to stay and order drinks. We drank and danced and talked with a couple other people enjoying the scene. A quality I couldn’t seem to find in other relationships was a maturity level. Griffin and I had a very mature relationship. His thought process went farther than “Netflix and chilling.” I never paid for a date, never opened a door; we never had a boring, basic date. And he wasn’t afraid of being seen with me—another thing I had yet to experience. It was a perfect scene out of a movie and I knew I was exactly where I was supposed to be. I dropped him back off at the hospital and we continued to see each other from then on.
He was later released from the hospital and I felt our relationship was almost stronger than ever. I went back to spending the night at his house, talking all day—going back to how things used to be.
But then something felt weird and clicked in my head.
We had been going on like this for several weeks now, and I began to realize that things weren’t exactly the same. I guess I was so happy it made me blind to the fact that there was no real contact. During this whole time, he hadn’t kissed me, held me, or even held my hand. When we sat together or laid in bed together, there was no cuddling or touching of any kind. In the beginning, I wanted to give him his space and not rush into anything. It was hard for me because I felt so comfortable with him, but after all, I did hurt his feelings and knew it may not have been as easy for him.
I tried not to read too much into it. Despite my uncertainty, he was still inviting me back over, still talking to me, still wanting to see me. I figured I would sit back and let time do the healing.
One Friday night, he invited me over to spend the night and check out a car meet with him the next day. He had a passion for extravagant cars and photography, and I thought it would be cute to see him in his element. I spent the night, and the next morning, he woke me with coffee and we headed down to Newport to the first car meet. It was safe to say I was probably the only female there, but watching him get excited over Ferrari’s and Maserati’s was worth it. Typically, I’d rather be caught dead than at a car meet, but with him, everything was fun and exciting. After the second car meet, we grabbed some lunch and headed down to Huntington to shop and walk around. It truly was the perfect end to a perfect day. When we reached his house, we said goodbye and I headed home. And that would be the end to my “perfect relationship.”
I arrived home and pulled out my phone to send him a quick text, just to say thank you for taking me out that day and how much I enjoyed it. To my surprise, the message never delivered. The thing with iPhones is when a number is blocked, the message goes from being blue, to green, and is not sent right away. It’ll say it went through, but the recipient will never see it. I figured I had bad cell service or something, until I checked my social media. I had Griffin on every social media platform, and when I checked, I was blocked on every single one. The message “You have been blocked by this user” danced in my head and overwhelmed my heart. And all I could ask is “why?” We had just spent what felt like a perfect day together, so why would he do this? What went wrong? What did I do wrong?
A recurring problem I have encountered with every single guy I’ve been involved with is there is no such thing as closure. Guys don’t want to talk about their feelings, or deal with the reactions of the girls when they let them down, so they take the easy way out and ghost them. No explanation, no reason, just you, left alone replaying the memories in your head and trying to pinpoint the exact time and place where everything went wrong. Blocked phone numbers and text messages left on read while you try to solve the puzzle and tape your heart back up together.
I had no option or choice but to move on from the situation. It hurt like hell but there was nothing left for me to do; no way for me to contact him and tell him what he did to me. And even as broken as I was, it only got worse.
I brought myself to do a little snooping. I wanted to give myself my own closure, even when he was too much of a coward to do it himself. It seemed so unfair and so unlikely of him; we had always been honest with each other and he was never the type to have a hard time expressing how he felt, especially with me. After my digging, I felt my heart shatter into a million little pieces and understood exactly why he wasn’t able to face me.
I used my old Facebook from middle school to access his, knowing I wasn’t blocked on this account. In the photos he was tagged in, he was photographed in his hospital room from those few weeks prior with his family and another girl, similar to our age. As I did more research, I found her in more and more pictures, and quickly realized she was not family. She was his girlfriend. Based on the timeline, they had begun dating exactly two months after I had ended things with him, and had been together the whole time. The whole time I was with him in the hospital, sleeping in his bed, texting him all day non-stop, making memories with him—the whole time he was with her. It explained a lot, really. Why he wouldn’t hold my hand or kiss me like he used to, or why he wasn’t always present when we were together.
I wish I would have known before. If he wanted to just be friends, he should have just told me. But then again, I wouldn’t have been okay with that. It’s hard being just friends with someone you’re madly in love with. Even more so when that person is in love with somebody else.
I guess ever since then it’s been hard to get back in the swing of things. I never confronted him about it. We never spoke again after that beach day. I’ve done what I could to repair what he broke. If I thought the dating world was tough and scary back then, it’s only gotten worse. Worse because even when things are so good, and you think you’ve actually gotten it right this time, they all just end up being the same.