"If we got back together, what would be different this time?"
I racked my brain, trying to think of ways in which we both had changed over the years. Ignoring the aching in my chest begging me not to ruin this moment, I explained how much more mature he had gotten—how he was finally growing into his own person; an adult. I reasoned that my anxiety and depression were under control, and that while I still have a fiery, passionate personality, my temper is much more subdued.
He didn't say much in response, but I'd grown accustomed to that after years of pleading him to just say something! The conversation moved on to less sensitive topics and my heartbeat finally slowed to a normal rate. Eventually it was 3 AM and I was in desperate need of sleep.
"Do you just want to stay here?" I asked tentatively.
I turned the lights off and crawled into bed next to him. After a few minutes of stiff, awkward silence, he started rummaging around on his side of the bed. Quietly, he admitted, "I've been sleeping cuddled up next to a pillow—it helps me feel less alone." He's really laying it on thick, I thought to myself.
"Here, let me help," I whispered. I slithered up next to him until I couldn't possibly have gotten any closer. I breathed in the smell of his cologne and did everything I could not to panic.
"Why does this feel so comfortable? Being here, with you?"
"I have no idea."
Minutes passed with us embraced in each other's arms. My heart started racing again as he gently stroked my face and guided it to his in a soft kiss.
I'm sure you can guess where things went from there.
How did we get here? How are we back in this same position? How is it that through all of the pain we still were able to find each other?
In 2006, I stepped onto the bus for my first day of 6th grade. He and his friends immediately took note of me and for the next three years made my life a living hell—teasing, harassing, taking advantage... Despite it all, somehow he became my first boyfriend. I remember us holding hands, but I'm almost positive that's as far as it went. We were only 12, after all.
High school came around and they forgot about me. I was no longer their daily source of entertainment. We all went our own ways, dated different people, and I could finally breathe while walking through the hallways.
I got to college and had a whole new set of people to distract myself with, yet somehow I ended up back in his arms. I don't remember how or why it happened, but I remember being both outrageously excited and unbearably terrified.
On December 25, 2013 he invited me to spend Christmas night with him and his family. At approximately 3 AM on the 26th, he asked me to be his.
In July 2015, we went on a trip with his family to Hawaii. We were drunk and at his dad's high school reunion and I stumbled and accidentally stepped on his shoe. He got angry and stormed out. I chased him, crying for him to come back. We screamed at each other for what felt like a lifetime about everything that was wrong with our relationship. He tried to pack my bags and send me off. I slapped him. I hated myself for it.
In August 2015, it ended for the first time. He left me. I had no idea who I was without him, but we both knew the endless fighting had to stop.
In November 2015, he came back to me, but he was different. Cold, unapologetic—his heart had hardened in the time we spent apart. He was terrified of being hurt again. So was I.
In February 2016, I left him. I felt smothered.
In May 2016, I married my best friend on a whim and moved to North Carolina two months later, but it was over by October. We didn't work, and I missed him.
The story goes on. We got back together, had another falling out, and didn't speak for a whole year. Now, in May 2018, he is telling me he wants to settle down and have kids. And he thinks he wants that with me. I feel so alive.
For now. We'll see. I know I'm being naive, but I can't figure out how to stop.