Please be reminded; any names of people portrayed in this series are altered to protect their identities.
I managed to get a hold of Seth and made my way over to his house, contemplating what I was going to say. When I arrived, he greeted me with a hug and leaned in for a kiss, but I turned my cheek instinctively and asked him to take a seat. I could almost see his heart drop and explained to him how I had been feeling, telling him I thought it best if we end the relationship before things got worse.
To his credit, he took it very well and handled it maturely. I collected my things and we hugged. I knew he was fighting back the tears, so I thought it best to leave so he could let out his emotions; I knew he wouldn’t want to do so in front of me, especially not now. I walked out the door and returned home, feeling a surprising sense of relief. It almost felt as though I had been holding my breath for a long stretch of time, and had finally allowed myself to exhale. The air felt cleaner, the sun shone brighter, and I knew I had done the right thing.
After a few weeks, I got in touch with Ryder. We’d decided to catch a movie one night and I recall being nervous the entire time. We ended the night on a simple kiss before I made my way home, giddy and eager to see him again.
One day, I decided to go hang out with him at his place. We spent the time watching movies and as one thing lead to another, we wound up sleeping together. He had to work early the next morning, so we drove to the area of his shop and went our separate ways. I remember practically dancing home.
We hung out more often and I’d learned more about he and his career. I had also learned that he had a son whom he often saw. While that fact surprised me, I didn’t care; I was falling for him hard and fast, and was ready and willing to accept anything at that point if it meant he’d want me. I knew he was still hung up over the mother of his child, but I was willing to work through any scars he had.
Before too long, however, he started to do things that seemed all too familiar. He was less talkative, unavailable more often, and he started to do and say things that would throw me off. For example, he once described me as the ‘expendable red-shirt’ in his circle. That struck me like a dagger through the heart, but I laughed it off as a joke.
I started to notice a trend. Whenever I would strike up a conversation or try to say hello to him, my messages would be ignored. Then weeks later, he would call me, asking if I wanted to hang out. I was just happy to hear from him at all, so of course, I obliged, but I started to learn that he was only calling me when no one else was answering, or when he felt lonely. Regardless, I still wanted to be around him whenever I could.
I can clearly recall the last night we’d spent together. The next morning, he dropped me off at the nearest train station, but he didn’t drive off while I walked away. Then I remember passing by an alternative girl with bright pink hair. I had a feeling in my stomach when I passed her and waited inside the station to where the glass windows overlooked the lot. As I suspected, I watched her climb into the passenger seat of his car, and he drove away. The numbness started to show it’s ugly head once more as I took the long trip home, uncertain of where to go from there.
I stopped attempting to get in touch as much, but like an obedient little puppy, I would always answer when he called and show up when he requested. To this day, I shake my head at the memory. I knew I had meant next to nothing to him, but anytime he told me he was sad or lonely, I was right by his side with what may as well have been the snap of his fingers. So desperate to impress him and to show him how much I cared, I knew I would do anything he asked if it meant he would smile even if only for a moment; and even though I could feel myself die a little every time I heard his name or saw his face, I would keep up the charade for nearly a year before he’d drawn the final straw.
It was New Year’s Eve, and I had planned to invite a few people over to have dinner, then head out to see the fireworks. More than anything, I was crossing my fingers for Ryder to show, but to my dismay, no one showed up at all. I’d spent the countdown alone, having thrown or put away most of the food I’d prepared and finished the bottle of wine on my own as I let my desire for sleep take me. The next day, he texted me and asked how my evening was. Unwilling to tell him how I felt, I simply said it was quiet and uneventful. Still, he must have known I was hurting, so he invited me out to run errands with him.
When the time came to decide whether I would go home with him or otherwise, he decided to drop me off at the bus stop in the downtown core. It wasn’t quite midnight yet, so I knew I would still be able to catch the last bus. As he drove away, I put my earbuds in my ears and let the sadness hit me again.
To my surprise, a couple minutes later, I felt someone tug at my handbag. I turned to see a man in a brown hoodie trying to pry my purse from me. When he realized I wasn’t letting go, he stepped in and delivered a swift punch to my rib-cage. In a pained panic, I reached out with the palm of my hand and pushed up on his nose with a swift thrust, knocking him to the ground as I started to run to the next bus stop.
I managed to flag down the bus and got on, managing to escape and return home somewhat safely. I didn’t even call the police to report anything. I simply checked my bruises to make sure they weren’t too serious, curled up, and went to bed.
As the days passed, I started to let the pain really sink in. I began to understand that Ryder would never love me, regardless of my actions. I sent him a message, essentially saying farewell, and turned my back on him as I knew I should have done nearly a year ago.
I felt no relief. Only sadness. I felt that through the course of his influence, I had lost so much of myself and despite the fact that I had ‘left’ him, I still wanted him near me.
When I had met him, I did not suspect I would fall for him as hard as I did, nor did I think he would be capable of inflicting so much pain on me. To this day, he remains my most damaging ‘relationship’ I have ever allowed myself to be in.
To be continued…