5 years ago today

If someone told my 16-year-old self where I would be in five years, I would laugh and walk away. I never would have thought that my life would play out the way it did. I could never picture myself being this happy.

When I look back (and I rarely do), I remember an awkward, brown haired girl who lacked confidence. I had no sense of time or direction in my life, but I considered that to be okay. What’s sad is that I didn’t know who I was or what kind of person I wanted to become. Just when I thought I was already mature enough at the end of my senior year of high school, life threw me a curveball, forcing me to grow up a little bit more.

Everyone has had a high school relationship, I presume. If not, then you probably can’t relate. But even if you had one, you still probably couldn’t relate.

Five years ago, I had a high school marriage rather than a relationship.

Ever order something online to then realize it wasn’t what you thought you ordered? So then you have to decide if you want to send it back or work with what you got? I’m putting this as nicely as I can even though it may not sound like that. But basically, when you’re “16” and somebody tells you they love you you’re gonna believe them, right? Yeah, T-Swift was right.

At age 16, my relationship with my boyfriend would start out as an innocent high school fling, but quickly turn into to a hardcore 100 page final project on a topic I knew nothing about. At a young age, I took on more responsibility than I was equipped to handle. I decided to not send my order back.

After a couple months, I discovered the sad truth that my boyfriend came from a broken home. My family took him in, and he became a part of our family. We would end up “playing house” for three years. I never had the chance at experiencing a normal relationship. He was my first real boyfriend, so my idea of how a relationship worked was mislead since day one.

We ate breakfast, lunch, and dinner together. We drove to and from school together, and tackled our homework together. We went on countless family vacations together, attended church together, and we opened up gifts every Christmas morning together. We fought like brother and sister and I took care of him like a mother would. I became his family and played every role I could, trying to fill the gaps in which lacked someone. When it was good, it was good. I loved living with my boyfriend and thought it was the coolest thing ever at the time. But when it was bad, it was bad. Try fighting with someone knowing you have to end up forgiving them… no matter what the argument is about. At times, I felt trapped.

Three years of living under the same roof with my boyfriend at such a young age is something I still haven’t been able to relate with anyone else on. So I stopped talking about it, and I’ve started to forget. But in reality, it is definitely the most important factor that has shaped me into the strong person I am today. It wasn’t until I woke up for the first time in my dorm room, that reality punched me right in the face; this was the beginning of a new life I would live alone. I forgot what it was like to live my life on my own terms.

I can’t stress how much I’ve grown as a person ever since I opened my eyes to that concept. Naturally, I missed him right away. But I soon realized, I didn’t miss the person I was when I was with him. I figured out I could create my own happiness, and I was an overall better person without him. I surprised myself with how outgoing I was and how much confidence I actually had. People liked me for me, and these were things I was blind to while I was with him.

I wouldn’t fully understand the importance of all of this until it took me several failed attempts at second chances and repetitive heartbreaks to realize. We did try to fix our fading relationship again and again to only conclude that maybe we only worked living under the same roof. Or maybe it was the fact that our relationship was so complex that it would only work with constant effort and dedication… things I couldn’t give him anymore. After years of taking care of him, I realized it was time I finally took care of myself.

I’m not regretting our abnormal relationship, and I’m not saying he was a bad boyfriend. He was smart, loving, and my best friend. But often, people tend to forget who they are/what they are capable of when they fall in love. Now that I’m older, my outlook has completely changed because of that hard, but crucial responsibility I took on years ago.

To think I almost went to school locally in order to maintain our unhealthy relationship.

Five years ago today, I was an awkward, brown haired girl who lacked confidence, and by default, was married to my boyfriend. Today, I am a fun-loving, confident blonde, and I’m capable of doing what I want, when I want to. If I do look back, it’s to remind myself of how far I’ve come and to remind myself that it will only get better.

If I could offer any advice, it would be to love yourself first, and grow up second. Life’s too short to be anything but happy.

Right now, food, wine, and my friends make me happy. I’ll grow up later.

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