In the summer of 2015, I found myself licking my wounds from a love I never quite got. By that I mean, I was supposed to be over it already. I was supposed to do what a strong woman does, move on. I was supposed to not still want him, all this time later. I was supposed to forget. Forget. Forget him.
So I tried. I kissed a few mouths and I moved 300 miles away. Still, he would text out of the blue and my stomach would drop to the bottom of my ass and I’d pray for something like a lobotomy, either mine or his. I just wanted it to make sense. He wanted me, but not enough. He loved me sometimes, but not when I needed it. He sent me flowers followed by texts that assured we would only ever be friends.
ENTER JARED AND ASHLEY.
That summer, I watched Bachelor in Paradise Season 2 like I was holding a mirror to myself. I rooted for Ashley because I was Ashley. Jared looked an awful lot like my Jared. Acted like him too. So yeah, sometimes I wanted to stop. I wanted to stop because it was painful to watch. It was painful to see myself so clearly reflected in Ashley. To be the girl so absolutely in love with the guy who can’t make up his fickle mind. To be desperate and know the world was watching. To know the world was laughing.
But I wasn’t ever laughing at Ashley. Because I was Ashley. Because I knew what it meant to love a man who gave you an inch when you gave a yard.
After three years, Ashley and Jared made an official announcement that they’re together. They did a cute video that I potentially cried at. He rubbed her leg. She kissed his cheek. I watched, enthralled, listening to their story. To the story of his doubt. To the story of him waiting. To the story of her just loving and loving and loving. To the story of him becoming distant and her blaming herself. To the story of him realizing he loved her. He loved her all along.
And I cried. I cried because I wanted this love story. For them. For me. I cried because Ashley wanted Jared in a way so many of us want our Jareds. I cried because he realized he was a fucking idiot and most of them never do. That’s usually just what the romcom says will happen.
I watched Ashley and Jared and I saw myself. I saw myself and now, I don’t. Because the truth is, most of us rejected girls don’t get this moment. But I guess we have hope.
I guess we have something to cling to.