How My First (And Worst) Heartbreak Taught Me To Take Off My Mask And Just Be Myself

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via Flickr – MadEmoiselle Sugar

Damien sent me a Facebook friend request today. Damien, of course, isn’t his real name, it’s the name of the possessed kid from ‘The Omen’ but that’s the name I’m giving him. You see Damien was my first and by first I don’t mean first love or first sex, I mean both. Damien was the first man (boy) I fell in love with at the tender age of 18 and, a month later, he was the first person I ever had sex with.

I’d had crushes for sure and boyfriends in middle school and high school but I’d never been in love before. Damien was by far the best looking guy I’d ever dated, the tallest, and very much the smoothest. He had this voice that was just velvet and these kind of sleepy eyes. He was a dreamboat by any standard and he liked me. So, I did what any idiot in love does, I catered to his every whim. I made myself up every day before going to the class just because I might run into him and so he’d be thinking every hour of every day that his girlfriend was the cutest thing around. I spent money I didn’t have on new clothes so that I’d look stylish. I learned about football which I never liked before and hate today. I became “Damien’s girlfriend.”

Damien was by far the best looking guy I’d ever dated, the tallest, and very much the smoothest. He had this voice that was just velvet and these kind of sleepy eyes. He was a dreamboat by any standard and he liked me.

Even worse, I felt privileged to be that. I felt privileged to have lost myself because, in my warped and self loathing, in-love-brain, being “Damien’s girlfriend” was a step up from being plain old Madeline. It went on like this for six months with me being more and more caught up in the relationship. I envisioned us dating for all four years and graduating together, getting married in some godawful country church. I would wear a veil, I imagined. I was sick and addled from love. I trusted it and I trusted Damien because when you’re in love you’re supposed to trust the one you love, right? Right?!

Well, that all came to a screeching halt that Winter when I went to house party off campus planning to meet Damien there. I’d been studying that evening and had told him I wasn’t going to be able to make it but when I finished early I thought I’d surprise him. Whatever you’re imagining happening next is probably tame compared to what happened.

I showed up at the party which was packed with about 40 people in the two bedroom home and some spilling out onto the sidewalk. I made my way through the crowd and couldn’t help but notice his friends seemed to be avoiding me and, at the time, marked it down as them not wanting to give the appearance that they were flirting with me. Y’know, cause Damien would be mad. Long story short, I couldn’t find him, I walked out into the backyard which was a small and scrubby lot covered in huge weed trees and saw a couple who sort of appeared to be trying to conceal themselves. It was Damien and, I am not kidding, as soon as I had that realization he literally came from the blowjob a girl I had never seen in my life was giving him.

I just fucking stood there, stunned. I heard him telling her thank you or that was great or some crap that men say to strange women after blowjobs and then they turned together, her wiping the dirt off her knees, and started towards me. We locked eyes. He was zipping up his pants. I screamed and turned and left.

I spent the next five hours in a Huddle House drinking coffee, crying at my best friend, and ignoring his phone calls and I did manage to tell him it was over the next day and not go back on it. So, as needy and “pleasing” as I’d become that was actually an incredible win for me. I was crushed, completely crushed. When I was in my dorm I was surrounded by all the stupid shit I’d acquired in the belief that it would somehow keep him loving me and while it seems completely obvious now, I had basically purchased a bunch of costumes in the form of clothes and my changed personality all designed to do two things, destroy Madeline, me, and give life to “Damien’s girlfriend.” Two weeks after I caught Damien cheating I stuck all that crap in a bag, clothes I couldn’t afford and all, and drove back home and told my Mom what happened and that I wanted to burn it all out where my dad burns the leaves every fall. She totally got it and the next day we said goodbye to Madeline’s costume. Twenty minutes later “Damien’s girlfriend” was ashes.

I got more out of that terrible experience than I’d ever admit to Damien. It honed me, strengthened me, made me proud, gave me standards I hadn’t had. If I’m honest I owe more to that experience, as awful as it was, than perhaps any other I had in college. It killed the Disney princess fantasy and taught me not to objectify myself or anyone else because that’s not love. Love is real, not an adopted story or way of living. Love is between people, not characters, not masks.

So, no, Damien, we’re not going to be Facebook friends — because we’re not friends — but thanks for being such a fantastic teacher. No matter how much it may have hurt. TC mark

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