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I've Loved Him First, but Now I Love Me More

Michelle fell in love & became consumed by her subject. Mental illness kept her in an unhealthy cycle but is now prioritizing her self-love.


Instant connection

When I met him, I didn't think much of myself. I was battling a dark depression that had been going on for years and was in a relationship that brought no salvation. I started a job where he worked as my attempt to escape my reality. I was living far away from family and friends, I was isolated from any socializing, and raising two children. Working got me out of that box I felt was slowly suffocating me. He was unexpected. As the owner of the company gave me a grand tour of the place, I came across him and his colleagues, and to be honest my memory is a blur. As someone who struggles with anxiety, I often lose focus visually and tune out my surroundings but my heart felt like it had jumped ship. When I try to relive that moment, I can't even see a clear face but I remember wanting to run the hell out of there so I could breathe again.

We didn't interact right away. I was naturally shy, I had a boyfriend and was never going to make that first move. Every time he came around, my whole body went crazy like plane controls going haywire. My mind blanks and my body freezes out of excitement and intimidation. Our first verbal interaction was filled with sassiness, strength, flirting, and nervousness.

"Yo, do you want a coffee?", he asked. He was on his way to Timmies for everyone.

"Umm, sure. Large French Vanilla, please. And I have a name.", I returned.

He proceeded to ask my name and off he went. After that, we started spending an immense amount of time together. The more I was around him, the more I fell for him. The weird thing was that the face he often portrayed was negative, hurt, traumatized, abused, and angry, yet I fell for him every day. My love for him opened my eyes to the abuse I was living in my relationship. Every time I would leave work and tell him goodbye, it felt wrong. I didn't belong with my boyfriend so I eventually left. He did not leave his girlfriend though.

This was the start of a long, obstacle-filled, inexplicable, magnetic connection.

The mistress

We had a connection, but is a connection really enough for two souls to commit to each other? I naively believed it was. I thought I had the power to make him leave her. If he just saw how happy he could be, he would "run away" with me. He didn't. I should have walked away then. I should've picked up my self-respect and walked away showing him that he couldn't have both. But I didn't. I gave him the relationship experience without the commitment. I became the mistress thinking it would land me the girlfriend title. I miscalculated gravely. In my miscalculation, I didn't anticipate the epic heartbreak I would inevitably encounter. I often heard the same words, "One day", "I need time", "You deserve better". I held on to these words believing he meant them. Maybe he did, but the longer I held the mistress title the more I felt used and lied to. I was so invested and so in love with him. And I was scared to lose him. I was scared to lose my chance at a life with him. I ignored my soul's screams and let myself drown in the emotions that engulfed me. My love for him overpowered any possible love I had for myself if I had any at all.

He implodes my world

In eight years, he has come back into my life 4 times including today. Every time he does, he becomes the main focus. My world literally revolves around him. I've left countless relationships for him. I have let my emotions interfere with my truth and turned a blind eye to the red flags because "I see his good side." Then it starts. I chase and he runs. He plays the come and goes game which eventually leaves me frustrated, depressed, and in a constant state of longing. My days are filled with nothingness and triggers. I can't control it. It becomes obsessive and my main goal then becomes, "How do I make him love me." But not this time. I cannot and I will not let my emotions consume me. I built my world without him and I'll be damned if I let him blow it all into pieces with his narcissistic behaviors!

Healing opportunity

I saw him the other day. I froze. My heart felt like it was going to jump out of my chest. My brain got fuzzy and my voice had left me. A year and a half of healing and self-love, immensely put to the test. Sometimes I feel like I become a whole different person when he's around. Not all in a bad way but I seem to have this deep need for him to like me. Then he leaves and I become myself again. Carefree, silly, strong, opinionated, and wild. He's the type to live inside the box, he's very uptight, traditional and sometimes I feel like I worry that he will think I am too "out there". I like to think that I care so much what he thinks because I have this deep love for him but at the same time struggle with the idea that if he doesn't like the true me then why do I even bother. I bother because he also sets my soul on fire. I get a huge rush of energy when he is around me. I flirt and feel giddy. I reconnect with my inner child and I become playful. He also calms me when he wraps me in his arms. My whole world disappears and I feel safe. I feel my body relaxing and my breath resumes its natural flow. I feel light inside.

On the other hand, he also triggers me immensely. Sometimes I lose control. He awakens my scars and sends me into a whirlwind of memories and fears. I feel the most vulnerable with him. No matter how high my walls are, they come crashing right down when he's around. I have no armor. In the past, it excited me and fueled me into hope but these days, it scares me to no end. The heartbreak at the end of this episode is beyond anything I've ever experienced. It scares me because I can see that he's still not ready for my love. I am intense. I am free. I challenge. I am honest. I force you to face your wounds. He's not ready for that. I cried today because I know that if I don't figure out how to get a handle on these intense emotions, I'm going to rip apart at the seams. I cried because the fear consumes me. In the past, this is where I would've tried to prove my worth to him, tried to convince him that I can make him happy, professed my love to him, and tried to rush him into commitment. Not this time. This time, I recognize the emotions. I recognize the behaviors. I recognize the red flags. The triggers. This time, I won't get frustrated and run. I won't push him and make him run. This time I will focus on my self-love and healing journey and learn from this connection. I will set boundaries, take breaks and be clear with my intentions. I will be honest and learn to stand in my truth proudly. I see the healing opportunity here, maybe for both of us.

I have to love me more

A year and a half ago, the cycle repeated itself and we were separated again. I have daydreamed about this reunion for a year now. How I would react to him. How I would be stronger. I would be in my power. I would love me first. This has proven to be difficult with the intensity of the love I feel for him overshadowing all logic but I know it's me or him that will end up heartbroken since he is not ready for this connection to take the next step. I have to love me more. I have to be able to walk away if I have to. I have to be strong enough and believe in my worth enough to say, "this is not okay." For eight years, I loved him first. I prioritized him as my sanity dove over the cliff. Not this time.

I come first now.

What's love got to do with it

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2021 Michelle Brady

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