Do you ever really get over your first love?

I was young when I experienced my first love…

I was 16 years old and I wasn’t even sure if it was a serious thing until it was too late… I was truly madly deeply in love and I didn’t even realise.

To this day I wonder whether what I believed to have been my first love was actually love or just the case of puppy love… but there are some days when I allow myself to admit that yes, he was in fact my first love, it’s just my heart wants to pretend that my wonderful partner is my first love, but even he says that he isn’t.

Like most first loves nowadays, mine didn’t end great. I was fortunate to have had 2 years worth of roller coaster romance before I loved and lost…

It took me a further 2 years (or if it’s just me talking to myself I would say 4 years…) before I ever really accepted what happened. Don’t get me wrong, I had moved on much sooner than that… but well… my heart hadn’t stopped grieving until I met someone who made my heart feel complete.

For the purpose of this story, we’ll call my first love Jason.

Jason was one of my best friends; we’d known each other a long time before we’d even gotten close, but when we established a bond, we were practically inseparable. For the sake of you and the truth I’ll admit back then I was a little wild when it came to boys and fun… I didn’t care about myself and had no plans for the future… I was 16 with no clue about life, I was self centred and didn’t really care about the way life worked… I never planned to get married, have kids, and have a job or my own home, if truth be told I was in the mind-set that I’d be lucky to live to 20 at best. I just didn’t give a damn.

Jason and I talked every night throughout the summer and he made me laugh… no guy had ever really made me laugh… no guy had ever really cared about my feelings or took the time to get to know me… at least no one with good intentions. Jason brought innocence and simplicity in my life, he made me feel safe, made me feel comfortable… made me feel wanted. Soon friendship became a budding romance… we were both inexperienced, we both had no idea what was happening or where we could even go…

We were lucky because we had mutual friends who went through the motions of a would be relationship with us… and for the first time I just felt like I belonged somewhere. I introduced him to my parents for the first time as my boyfriend, the first guy I’d ever introduced them too. Of course they already knew him but only as a friend. They were kind to him, welcoming and loving. When it came to be my turn to meet his parents in a different way to how they knew me, it was a far different story. They liked me as a girl their children hung out with, I frequented community parties, I was good friends with the local kids and they knew me…unfortunately they knew my dark secret, a stupid mistake I had made as a young kid, one that I had hoped would stay a secret… Being a naïve 16-year-old girl, I just assumed that if they did know, they would give me the benefit of the doubt and just put it down to my age…but they didn’t…you see, to them I was good enough to be a friend, but I would never ever be good enough to be a girlfriend… It didn’t matter that I got good grades at school, that I was well mannered or even that I cared deeply about their son, they couldn’t look past my greatest mistake and instead judged me harshly for it. To be 16 and told that you were not good enough can do wonders for your self esteem… I guess that’s where my low self-esteem really became a part of me. Back then I didn’t realise how damaging the constant criticism I got from his parents really was… I’d felt confident up until then, but overnight I went from being my parent’s daughter to a shame on the community, it felt like all the parents suddenly became frightened that I would date their kid next and lead them down a dark road… It broke my heart that his mother hated me so much… I’d dreamt of the day that I would fall in love and find a second family in my partner’s family. I imagined going on shopping trips with his mom and going on lunch dates, picking up a hobby maybe even cooking family dinners together…it killed me that that dream was so far from reality… despite that our relationship blossomed… because parents just to let you know… the more you interfere with your kids relationships the more reason you give them to fight. It became us against the world, and for some time it didn’t bother us that every adult in our life bar my parents and my bestfriends mom, were so against us…

We were hopelessly in love… I was hopelessly happy… then my uncle died and I lost my way again. My heart couldn’t understand everything that was going on and I felt hopelessly lost. Through that difficulty he loved me… he held me every night I cried… he overcompensated for the sudden depression that hit my home. Pretty soon it became unbearable to be in my house and he became my safe place… but the strain became too much for our young hearts to handle, that added with his mothers constant interference…well what did you expect? Love took a back seat to arguments, jealousy and anger. Our phone calls every night became shorter and shorter… sometimes out of spite he would tell me the mean things his mom would say about me… it hurt, but I was no angel. On Christmas I cheated on him… at that point I just wanted to stop our relationship and I did the one thing I thought he would never forgive… imagine my surprise when I told him and instead of shouting he just held me. It was like he had had enough of the fighting and my act had suddenly opened his eyes to how far down we had gotten. When we fell in love we had everything we could possibly want…nothing had changed except our hearts had been through and learnt a lot during our time together. I bet you think we broke up amicably and are now at the very least civil? No… we stayed together for 11 months after that. After my stupid mistake, we moved forward and became stronger…well in some ways… of course in some ways we also developed new insecurities that was a challenge to overcome…but overall we went back to how we used to be and we both felt like our happily ever after was so close. Then fights in his family became more regular and his whole personality became different, he loved me, he never let me forget that, but I saw the sadness he felt at his moms inability to accept our relationship. He struggled with trying to be a good son to them and a good boyfriend to me. I didn’t help either, I became demanding. We saw less and less of each other because his mom put a lot of pressure on him to stay away from me, we would fight about it, I understood how hard he was finding it but was frustrated at not being given a chance, for what felt like a long time we both cried every night. Our hearts just didn’t want to give up something that meant so much to us. Maybe it was at this point we both admitted to ourselves that at such a young age, there was not much you could do if your parents disapproved. The strength we had at the beginning was fading; the belief that we were against the world became more of a burden than something that motivated us. We loved each other so much that it became too much. He became more demanding too, his insecurities about my cheating made it difficult for me to do anything without him, he suffocated me and I suddenly felt like the whole relationship was becoming a prison sentence. He had forgiven me but it felt like he was slowly taking it back, like a delayed response to how he had really felt that night I told him. Our second anniversary was coming up and we had planned to spend a romantic weekend away, we spent a lot of time trying to find the perfect mini getaway and were so excited that this break might grant us a breather away from everyone else to start the healing process all over again. We were so naïve, but we actually believed this would fix all the hurt that had happened. On the night of my bestfriends birthday he told me I wasn’t allowed to go out with her, he said it was either him or her. She was both our bestfriends and after a difficult year she had endured I chose her. I chose her because I thought that he would forgive my decision and that later on we could make up. Looking back now I ask myself if it was worth it… I don’t regret it because of where I am now, but my decision lead to years worth of pain later on. After that night he always seemed tense, he barely had time for me and I assumed it was because I had chosen my bestfriend instead of him. We continued to talk about our plans for our anniversary, I had planned a gift extravaganza, each gift would be sentimental and he would see that even though I didn’t always make the best choices, I really appreciated him and what he did for me. Then one night his calls stopped coming, he stopped answering my phone calls, my texts, 1 week before our anniversary I called him constantly for several hours, and I felt so desperate. I kept thinking about our last conversation and he had said that he would call me back… I shut everyone out whilst I tried to figure out what had happened. On the day of our anniversary I had been miserable, my friend offered to drive me to his house so that I could give him my gifts. I’d spent hours wrapping them as if my life and happiness depended on it, I was under this illusion that the last 2 weeks was nothing, that maybe he hadn’t realised, maybe it was part of an elaborate plan to surprise me. I got to his house…his brother answered the door and he looked at me as if he was embarrassed for me. He called Jason to the door and Jason looked at me as if he was annoyed…I’m sure he was but at the time I just didn’t care, I wanted so badly to know what had happened, I felt he owed me an explanation, without an explanation I felt like I would just die right there at the door. He wouldn’t let me in. He sighed and came out shutting the door behind him. He asked me what I was doing there, I answered like nothing had happened and went through each gift explaining the reason for them. I told him how excited I was about our anniversary and how much I loved him. I kissed him, he kissed me back, but it felt forced rather than romantic. He told me his parents had introduced him to another girl and that they really connected. He said he had just sent her flowers. I begged him to tell me he was lying. I begged him to stay with me because I loved him and that I believed we could get through this, I begged him to love me. He just shook his head and said he had enough. I watched him walk away and I begged God to make him turn around, I made promises I couldn’t keep, I bargained for another chance but ultimately it was over and deep down I knew this. On the ride home I cried, I felt like my life was over and that I would never, ever stop crying. For the next few weeks, I lived my life like I was in a dream, I refused to accept what had happened, I was in this daze that it never actually happened and that we were just on pause…I frightened everyone. Everyone thought I was insane, maybe I was, but who really cared. My heart was broken and I ached in every part of my body. I would cry myself to sleep and woke myself up crying some more. I was afraid to talk, afraid to move, afraid that if I did anything I would just fall apart. My sisters would come into my bedroom, the lights would be off, the curtains drawn, darkness filled my room and our songs would be playing, I’d be crying uncontrollably, it became a regular thing for them to stroke my back as I cried, trying to soothe me. Thinking about those days really hurts me to this day… why did I ever let myself grieve in such a way. I was so damaged, my faith in love completely blown. My friends did their best to comfort me… I’m sure it was difficult as he was their friend too. My mom told me that someday I would find someone who would love me the right way, someone who I would give my heart to, who would in turn give me theirs. Someday I would be with a man who I wouldn’t want to hurt. Someone who would teach me what its like to love. I was so ready to give up on everything because once again my faith and beliefs were lost. If I could describe the way I was…the way I felt, the devastation was…well… devastating. I was pathetic but I didn’t really care, I was so consumed in this hell that I was living that I couldn’t see the light that those who loved me tried to lead me to. When your heart breaks it really shatters your world, the thing is, though grieving is a healthy process people need to take, what I was doing was damaging me further.

After that, men came and went… I got involved in a lot of messy relationships that failed for one reason or another, mainly because of my inability to trust or to really connect with another person got in the way of any potential healthy relationships, not to mention my poor taste in guys. Then I went away for University; at this point I hadn’t seen him in year. I heard he had a new girlfriend and that they were really happy, it wasn’t the girl he had met whilst being with me. It was a girl who funnily enough was someone we had both hated and talked about many times. But still good for him, I thought. I took my male issues with me to University. There was no room for romance in my life. I was after one thing, someone to occupy my time and my bed, but definitely not my heart. That strategy worked at not getting my heart broken again, but it became boring, it became stupid and soon I grew tired of it. I had gotten close to one guy in particular. One guy who was not my type at all and best of all I wasn’t attracted to him. One night after having a heart to heart about his life he looked at me and said, “What happened to you? Who broke you?” I was speechless…the question was so random and came from nowhere, I didn’t even know how to answer it, no one had asked me that before, people put my negative opinion over love, relationships, commitment and marriage down to my free and liberated lifestyle. People just assume that promiscuous people just like to have fun, but sometimes and I’m speaking purely from experience, we become promiscuous because we crave the closeness you can get from another person that you can get through sex, without having the burden of getting your heart broken in a relationship. No strings attached sex, open relationships, that’s all I wanted after the heartache I had endured, I really didn’t want anymore of that. I looked at him and laughed, “I just like the feeling of freedom” I told him but he refused to accept that answer “I bet someone really fucked you over and you don’t want to admit he hurt you!” he teased “maybe I fucked him over first?” I replied. “You need love” he told me and little did he know that my heart ached because of his words. I never told him how right he was about his first statement, and despite our close relationship and my ability to share just about any information about myself, I couldn’t tell him about Jason and the ones that followed after. I don’t think I ever had to say it, he knew my heart, but unfortunately he was broken too, unfortunately for both of us, we were both in such difficult times in our lives that we would never have been able to have a healthy relationship. I was still crying about Jason, in fact I still wrote him letters that I would never send to him, I kept them close to me and kept my broken heart hidden from everyone. I knew my friends back home were fed up of hearing me ask about Jason and wanting a constant update, they were tired of wiping tears, and saying words that would go unheard because I was still secretly consumed by my fear of relationships and heartache that continued well into 2011/2012.

Then I met my partner. Lets call him Ben. Our story is for another time but we connected in a way I hadn’t since Jason. We sat and talked for hours and he even let me read my letters to Jason. I figured why not? This guy is willing to listen and up until then I hadn’t been able to talk to anyone, I just told him everything and he listened. He laughed on queue, he held me when I cried, he sighed when I did, he was there, present, he listened and comforted, he was just…different? We took our relationship slowly from there, getting to know each other and enjoying each other’s company. He met me when I was not pretending to be someone else, I was me, and he was him…

After a few months of dating I went back home and I was invited to a party. He had gone on a rugby tour and was out of the country and I felt lonely without him. I went to the party and bumped into Jason. It was the first time in almost 2 years, and he didn’t even acknowledge me… I felt sick… and as if by magic my phone rang. It was an unknown number but I picked it up, I wanted any excuse to leave the room. It was Ben! He sensed that I was uneasy and I told him what had happened, he could have easily been freaked out by the fact that the girl he was dating was upset over her ex boyfriend but instead he listened to me explain that though I had moved on, I was still upset at being blind sided by our first meeting. Ben comforted me and well…that was when I realised what a good man he was.

I have always openly told Ben how I got that sick feeling when I thought about Jason, or if anyone mentioned him. He remains very understanding and I’m so grateful for him. Because he’s been so kind and accepting of this fact I have been able to move forward with my life, Ben restored my faith in love and relationships, Ben gave me a second chance at a first love, because he is my first true love.

Now you’re probably wondering why my title is:

Do you ever really get over your first love?

I haven’t tricked you into reading a long essay of me talking about Jason or even my pathetic love life…

I went home last week, my sister and I went into town, I hadn’t been in town for a long time, it had been 4 years since Jason and I split, we were walking around the mall when my sister stopped me in my tracks. “Stop, you need to walk this way!” I looked at her in confusion, her voice was tense and high-pitched, “Jason’s over there!” she whispered as she dragged me in the opposite direction. You know that sick feeling I told you I got whenever anyone mentioned him? Well that feeling stopped a while back but suddenly the thought of bumping into him brought back all the emotions, the insecurities, the heart ache and I was back to the 16 year old girl who was just so hopeless. As I walked away I felt this intense heat of pain as if someone was burning me, I felt nauseated. It would have been over 2 years since I had last seen Jason and yet it instantly felt like he had only just broken my heart.

Stupid, stupid, stupid, I repeated to myself. Thinking about my reaction made me angry, I’m 23 years old and I’m letting people make me feel like I’m 16 again. I had done a lot of growing up since then, I had done my best to leave behind the broken girl that hid in fear for so many years, I’d got over it all…hadn’t I?

Well the truth is no. No I haven’t gotten over him, but at the same time I don’t love Jason anymore. I no longer want him, I no longer let my past mistakes and horrible experiences ruin my relationship now, I don’t let them fog up my judgement and I don’t let them stop me from living. But there are times when I allow myself to grieve, not because I feel sorry for myself but because it reminds me of how lucky I am now, to have Ben to love, to have my family and friends, to be the woman I am now because I didn’t let them kill my strength. I realised that part of the reason why I reacted the way I did was because I wondered, had the situation been flipped around and it was Jason’s friend who had seen me at a distance and warned him, would he have even cared? Would he have chosen to go in the opposite direction or would he have just walked past me like I was just another stranger. The answer to that question terrified me, because I didn’t want to be the only one in the ‘relationship’ to still be affected. I had held on to this belief all this time that despite our roller coaster relationship he would still have some kind of emotion at the thought of me, if not, then did that mean that I was the only one who even cared about us ever happening? No, I didn’t want him crying over me, no, I didn’t want him hurting himself over me, but I just wanted so badly to believe that he felt something, anything, I didn’t want him to feel nothing towards me. I believe that we were the only true witness of the love we shared, we saw the ups and downs and felt it all, it was 2 memorable years that had a big impact on my life, and still does now…. The thought that he did not care at all, not even a little bit makes me feel like those 2 years were nothing… and if they were nothing then that pain was nothing… and that pain made me…so therefore I’m nothing…

But you can’t hang on to those thoughts because no matter how devastating a break up was, you are right here, right now, or if you’re going through it now, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, you just have to be willing to walk to it. It’s tough letting go of something so special, something you want so much, but life is about finding a new meaning, a new reason… If you had asked me back then what I wanted, I would have said Jason, but now? I want to keep growing, to keep learning. I want to create a future where I feel content no matter how my life plays out.

Do you ever really get over your first love?

The short answer? No. But that’s okay, it’s okay to admit you’re not over it, you’re not over them. But you can’t let that be the end of the story, you can’t let it consume you, the story on the other side is so beautiful and wonderful and has so much more to discover than this side of the heartache.

I asked my auntie whether she married her first love, and she told me “No. But I married my true love.”

Not many of us marry our first love, those who do are incredibly lucky, you’re with your first love who also happens to be your true love, it’s a truly rare thing to happen, but when it does, it should be celebrated. But for those of us who don’t…it’s not the end of the world, we have the journey of finding our true love to enjoy, and hey! At least we get one heck of a story to tell!

Love with a pure and kind heart, you’ll be surprised the kind of love you get back.

Do something to make your parents proud today, your kids proud someday but most importantly, you proud everyday!

Peace and Love
Jessy x


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