I saw him today.
The one who had my heart.
The one I so deeply loved–the one I would have done anything for and the one who stirred my soul.
Thanks to technology, I paused the broadcast and I looked at him. I watched him sitting there and I remembered all the times he would text me from a similar environment–all the times I would say text me when you arrive safely, and all the times I would sit perched, in front of a television set, hoping for a quick glimpse of him on the screen.
He had that same nonchalant expression on his face that he always had. As I sat looking at him, it just felt so odd and uncomfortable and so, for lack of a better word, foreign. I was struck by how strange life is and how someone can mean so much one moment and then just be out of your life forever the next. It made me think of the song by Gotye, “Somebody That I Used To Know.”
I remembered the time I held him when he cried because his beloved dog had died. I remembered how he held me when I cried because my stepdad had chosen a woman over his daughter. I thought of how I would lay and watch him sleep and how we would always eat breakfast in bed together. In fact, we ate many meals in bed together—dinner while watching football, midnight snacks while watching Dateline, he was just chill like that. And I loved him.
I remembered walking in the room and seeing roses on my bed, a rare surprise he had left for me earlier in the day. Another time he left perfume and his t-shirt and shorts so I could sleep in them and feel close to him. Every once in a while, I still sleep in those– as crazy as that sounds. Sometimes, in spite of everything, it’s still nice to feel close to him. I thought of the long car rides together, the crazy wild goose chases we went on in search of the greatest deal ever. And I remembered his smile.
There was always something about his smile. Quite simply put, everything about him was irresistible to me.
He was the one for me. He was all I ever wanted and everything I had prayed for and dreamed of ever having. It was as if I put in an order and God sent him. And I always thought it was too good to be true because I felt as though he was out of my league. I never thought that I was good enough for him and I never felt that he thought I was good enough for him. As a result of that, my fear and insecurities prompted me to be a woman I wasn’t. I was too afraid to be myself in his presence. I would show glimpses of myself, but I was terrified of being rejected by him.
My pure desire to have him in my life, blinded me to the fact that he never loved me. He may have liked me, somewhat, but he certainly never loved me. While I thought he was everything I ever wanted, he thought I was a casual option. Somewhere deep inside of me, I felt that truth. So, I was determined to make him see that I was special and that I was worthy and that he should love me.
Yet, he didn’t.
He said to me once that I never knew how to get what I wanted from him. My bad, because I thought loving him was enough. But the reality of it really was that he didn’t even know me. He couldn’t have known me because I didn’t know me. I was a chaotic mess of feelings and secrets and insecurities and I didn’t love myself. No one knew the real me. No one—not even me. I was so busy trying to hide my secrets and the monsters that haunted me from myself and the world, that I never knew how I was going to feel from one day to the next. Was it really him I was trying to convince that I was worthy, or was I trying to convince myself ?
And then my life collapsed.
At first, he was supportive and that support meant the world to me, but it didn’t take him long to abandon me. When I lost everything, he was included in the list. There was a lot of anger and hurt there, probably on both sides, but when you’re drowning you don’t have the capability of checking to see if everyone on the shore is okay. He wasn’t alone in watching me go under, he had a lot of company.
Nonnie always said that God brings people into deep water not to drown them, but to cleanse them. That was certainly the truth in my case. I spent a very long year alone, seeking treatment and trying to face my demons head on, living through horrific pain and memories that I had buried away years ago, hidden from not only the world, but myself. That’s how repression works. There were times I didn’t think I would survive, times I begged God to let me not wake up, times I literally didn’t think I could take one more second of pain.
But God had a different plan.
Slowly, I began to start my healing process. There was a time I didn’t think I could possibly cry any more than I had already cried and then the tears would flow again. But one tear at a time, I became a little stronger, a little wise, a little healthier, and a little more in love with myself. I lost many, many people from my world, but as they say, not everyone you lose is a loss. One friend at a time, I rebuilt my inner circle and God sent the people he always intended to be in my life—and they carried me, they championed me and they showed me what true friendship was all about.
Day-by-day, week-by-week, month-by-month, I began to realize that I was so much more than what had been done to me and I didn’t have any reason to carry shame around with me. I was a victim and that was something I couldn’t control. I had every right to deserve the best in life and to realize that I was okay and worthy of love from anyone. I didn’t have to push people away or play games with people because of my fear that they wouldn’t love me if they really knew me. I was enough. Just plain ole Kelley was enough.
Today, I am proud of who I am. I am rebuilding a life and doing what God intended for me to do all along. I realize that God had to destroy me to rebuild me and set me on the path he always intended for me to walk. Some days are scary and I’ve been alone for over a year now, but there is a peace in being who I really am and being okay with that. One thing I know for certain is that God intended for me to write this book, tell my story, and let everyone out there know that by openly showing my scars, I am proof that everyone can heal.
As for the man I loved so deeply, I don’t blame him for not loving the old me. No one could love me because I never let anyone close enough to accomplish that. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t love him. I truly did and for me the sun rose and set in his eyes. I have never been the kind of woman who needs a man to be happy, but he is one with which I would have loved to have shared my life.
I pray to God he is happy because I truly love that man. Did my heart stop beating for a brief second when I saw him on television today? Of course, it did. It’s a wonderful, terrible feeling all at the same time. I’ll never forget the butterflies in my stomach when he was near me and how I literally went limp every single time he kissed me.
But, it didn’t work out.
What did work out is I fell in love with myself and that is a beautiful, life-changing occurrence. I am open to meeting someone new whenever God sends him, but in the meantime, I’m happy and I am at peace. I’m learning to love me a little more each day. Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and that used to be a very hard day for me if I wasn’t in a relationship. Or if I was in a relationship, but the man didn’t do anything special for me, it was equally devastating. But this year, I am celebrating the fact that I love me on Valentine’s day.
For all of you out there who have ever felt that you were not enough, that you weren’t loved, that you weren’t special or pretty or any of the things that we try to absorb from what someone else thinks of us, I pray this Valentine’s Day you can learn to fill yourself up with self-love. Whether you’re in a relationship or not, it is the healthiest thing you can do for yourself. That is why this year I am celebrating my new-found self-love with fourteen days of Valentine’s. Starting Feb. 1st, I will be sharing a Valentine with everyone promoting a new message of self-love. I hope each of you will take those valentine’s and incorporate them into your own mindset and heart and start walking down the path of realizing how truly amazing you are.
I have a heart that has loved deeply and one that has been broken into a million little pieces, but it’s still beating. I will love again. As scary as it is, I’m ready to begin anew. I’m ready to introduce myself to the first man who will ever meet the real me. I no longer fear rejection. Maybe he’ll like me, maybe he won’t. But I will, and that makes all the difference in the world.