"Nothing is more beautiful and powerful than a smile that has struggled through the tears. Don’t regret your time, even the moments that were filled with hurt. Smile because you learned from it and gained the strength to rise above it. In the end, it’s not what you have been through that defines who you are; it’s how you got through it that has made you the person you are today, and the person you are capable of being tomorrow"
As I sat there reading this quote, I couldn't help but be brought back to a time where I wasn't myself. The only time in my 23 years of life that I've lost myself. A time where I didn't care about anything and thought I'd never be the same again.
Let me go back. It was May of 2001, which meant I was 11. My parents, grandmother and I had been planning to go up to Maine to visit my Aunt, Uncle, and twin cousins. It's something I've always looked forward to, still to this day. At that time my cousins were only a few years old also so it would be fun! The morning of I wasnt feeling well. After awhile of complaining my mom asked if I just wanted to not go all together. But after getting a grip, I said that we could. Little did I know God was doing some of his wonderful work. We made the 2 hour drive, just another typical day. We got there and were greeted by the four people we were planning on seeing. But then hidden in the background was someone else. A male. He got introduced to us as my Uncle's son from his previous relationship. Well, that was it, for him at least. I dont think he took his eye off of me the whole day. For me, it was weird. The only males I had ever looked at were my Uncle's, my dad, my grandfather and the boy we all swooned over in school. We went in and played some games, ate and just had a good time. There was an unspoken connection between us. Granted I was 11 so I was still pretty stupid, but I felt it. If you can love at 11, I'm pretty sure I did. We had a few moments where we were alone in the living room, kind of creepy at the time. We packed up and started driving away. I turned around and our eyes connected. The sadness that we had to leave each other.
Luckily two weeks later we were having another family thing and he'd still be in town. Oh, right, I forgot to mention one thing: he lives in North Carolina and is 5 years older. Anyway, we all met up two weeks later. The same connection was there. We could tell how each other felt without having to say anything. My cousin (who lived there) had a room in the basement dedicated to a TV for video games and just other guy stuff. Mind you he was also 11. So him, myself and this guy spent most of our time down there. I watched as they played some stupid video games. I'm having a hard to even finding the words to describe the connect this guy and I had. Looking back it reminds me of a movie. At one point in the day my cousin ran upstairs for a minute and again we were alone. This time he tried to give me a hug. Saved by the bell though. Someone called for us. The thing was that everyone knew. The day ended. He went back down South and I stayed here, thinking about him everyday.
I'm not one to mess with my feelings or emotions. What you see is what you get. If I say I like you more than a friend, I really like you. Sure back then I had tons of crushes but what 11 year old wouldn't? This though, it was different. I felt more grown up for some reason. I was serious. I didn't know what the feelings were but they were there. My uncle and aunt were set on the fact this guy and I couldn't talk or have any connection. I cant even tell you how many times I'd email them and ask for his number or email address but every time they'd say no. I should mention he has autism which put a whole new twist on the whole thing. They always said it wasnt me, it was him. I still pushed though. I had one of those silly LiveJournal things (my how blogging has changed!). I'd write little letters to him or talk about how much I missed him. These feelings were real but no one else understood that. Now that I look back I wish I could of been older for that period of time. Reason being is that I could of expressed my feelings more. It was one of those things where I was 11 so I didnt know how to explain how I really felt. Even if they had still said no, which they would have. I was trying to communicate something to them yet they were too set in their thoughts to at least listen. If only I knew what communication truly meant back then. So, the next few years went by. I had other crushes and kind of put this in the back of my mind.
Lets skip to 2006, me being 16. One of my aunt and uncles decided to rent a little cottage on a lake in Maine for the week. My parents, grandmother and I knew we'd want to visit. Our schedule worked so we went up on Wednesday and stayed until Friday. Well come to find out, my other aunt and uncle and cousins decided to also go. And it just so happens, this guy was going to be up from NC visiting. This was mentioned in a convo between my aunt and mom about a week before. So, as you can imagine, I was so excited. Finally a chance. Well, their schedule fit around going from Monday to Wednesday morning. Darn! We missed each other by a few hours. Totally sounding like a movie doesnt it? :) Luckily my cousin was awesome and got this guy's email address. Score! He gave it to me after lecturing me for about two hours. On Saturday I sat down and wrote a long email. I had no idea when he was returning to NC. Did he even read emails? I was impatient But on Sunday. I got an email in return.
We started chatting through email. Saying how we were glad to get this chance. We swore not to tell anyone which was working great. September he stopped emailing and here I was impatient checking emails everyday. Finally, on Sept 30th I decided to do the only other thing. Call him. We talked for about a half hour. And finally he asked if I wanted to start dating. Everything was great. I started staying home alone on the days my mom had to work so we could chat. We'd chat during lunch. We'd email and IM. It was a perfect relationship. I was so happy. In October, though, the cat was let out. Apparently my darling cousin had told h is parents way back in July that I had this guy's email. My mom was upset no one had told her. I screwed up. But they let me continue. They even added long distance to our home phone plan so bill wasnt high. The issue was let unspoken by everyone. No one was happy.
Jumping to the last week of November He had been acting weird all weekend. This was a Monday. I went online that afternoon and we started IMing and he was still weird. After pushing him to tell me what was wrong, he said "he thought we had jumped into it too fast without seeing how deep the water was". Um, what? I was incomplete shock and lost it. That night was a blur. The next day was too. I went into school crying. Hoe could th is happen? That night we chatted on the phone. Me trying in any way possible to change his mind. Well, that didnt happen. This time he told me he was gay. What?!? I was angry. I yelled at him and asked why he'd be with me if that was the case.
After that moment my world changed. The next 6 months were a blur, even to this day I dont remember them. I'd walk into school and put my head on my desk. All my teachers knew it. They were so supportive. One teacher even gave up the free time he had between classes to talk with me. I'd get mad easily if one of them gave me advice I didn't like. I wasn't me. I'd come home and lay in my room and cry. I wanted no part of anything. My parents knew but didnt say anything. I'd sit and actually write him letters. I'd write one a day. I think I wrong them for about 5 months, every day. Some were angry, some were sweet. It deepened I loved going to family members houses. One night my dad had to run to my aunts. The normal me would have gone in an instant but I told him no. I'd stay home, alone, in the complete dark. Me, who hates the dark to this day. My heart felt like it had left my body. I was numb.
After six months I was better. I was able to smile and be me again, kind of. It's something to this day I'll never get completely over though. Those months are apart of me. And the problem is he'll always be in my life whether I go years without talking to him or not. He's a step cousin, I cant change it. I havent talked to him since 2006. There was a party a few years ago he was here for but everyone decided it'd be best for him, my uncle and cousins not to come. There are so many songs that were playing back then that still remind me of that time. I love Brian to death but this time will always be in my mind. I struggle almost everyday with it still. The hurt, confusion, anger. Everything. I was able to get through it though and it has honestly made me who I am today.