I think this is going to be a long one. Hence the “part 1”. There is just so much I have to say on this topic. I don’t even really know where to start. I guess I’ll start at the beginning. The first boyfriend that counted, the first to let me down. I’m using real names. Real stories. I don’t care if that’s in poor taste. These are my realities. I lived this so I’m telling it like it is.
First, there was Robert. My high school sweetheart. The quintessential first love. The first heartbreak. The one I knew I’d be with forever. I loved him in the purest form of love. Innocent, naive love. There was only us, always. He had piercingly blue eyes that could see right through me. We went camping with my father once and carved our initials into a tree. Then my world fell apart. His dad got a job in Colorado, he moved. He left me. It wasn’t his fault but in my mind, there was nothing left of me. I cried at school for days. My teachers even knew what was going on. His friends comforted me. I was devastated. Then one day he called, he said we couldn’t be together anymore. We were too far from each other and it wouldn’t work. That was the end of us. We kept contact on and off the last 14 years, up until recently. That’s a story in itself.
Then there was Charlie. Charlie was twenty-something and I was sixteen. I met him while working. Initially, he didn’t know how old I was, but after several phone conversations, I finally told him. he said he didn’t care. He was obviously a pedophile but my brain didn’t comprehend that. It was the most secretive relationship I ever had. No one in school or anywhere else knew of his existence. We talked about everything-space, history, love. He made me feel mature and important. He wasn’t stupid and childish like the boys at school, but most importantly, he made me feel beautiful and that was what I needed. At some point, he must have realized I was falling for him because he finally told me we couldn’t be together and that it was all wrong. I was heartbroken again. The common denominator must be me, right? He changed his number and I never saw or heard from him again. (In retrospect, he is so lucky I didn’t.)
Part of my junior year and most of my senior year there was Joseph. I was working in a diner as a waitress. I remember that day vividly. He was eating lunch with his dad. He had long brown hair, green eyes, and a wide smile. He was flirty and made eye contact. He was wearing beat-up converse, a Megadeth T-shirt, and khaki dickies shorts. I was enraptured. As he was leaving I rung them up. At the last minute, I wrote my number on some receipt paper and ran out the door after him. I didn’t say a word, just pressed it into his hand and hoped he’d call. The girls in the diner laughed at my boldness. That night he called and asked me out. I was in shock.
We had a tumultuous relationship. He was sweet, he bought me flowers one day, but then he told me one night he wondered what it would be like to be with a skinny girl. He wouldn’t take me to prom or winter formal but he came to my choir performances and took me on dates. He bought me an engagement ring on Thanksgiving then told me not to tell anyone in my family yet. My parents loved him. I loved him. We never officially broke up, he just shut me out. He stopped talking to me and I fell apart. I was broken. I was not the skinny girl and I never would be.
I stopped eating as much as possible after that. I ate just enough around people that no one thought I was fighting with my body image. I chain-smoked cigarettes and a lot of pot with a bad guy from school that had no interest in me besides sex. But the pot and alcohol were free, and I didn’t care at that point. I wanted to be numb. The ring was too much to bear. I wore it to remind myself of what I had lost. To me, it felt like everything. I slept too much, I ate too little. I cried all the time. It was at this point I think I truly began my path of self-destruction.