You were my first love.
I loved you before I even knew what love was. I loved you before I knew I did. I loved you until you left. I loved you but you never loved me.
I know you didn’t. Because a father doesn’t leave his child. Not a father who loves their child at least. You were false to everyone, to your wife, to your children, to your mistress who is now the wife you have recently left, to your other children you have also currently left. Everything about you is false. All of it false.
Your lies. Your deceit made me mistrustful of people. You were the first to let my heart down but you weren’t the last.
I won’t say I ever trusted you. I was 16. It’s hardly a time when people experience true love. A first love, perhaps. But hardly ever a true love. I ignored my instincts. I ignored every thought I had in my head telling me that I couldn’t trust you. My father had left, had damaged me as a child by repeatedly lying about loving me. You were lying too. You can’t trust this one either. He will hurt you. Run. Run!
I should have, but I didn’t. I was flattered. I was a dorky, slightly chubby, large-chested, long-haired girl with confidence issues. I had a good personality though. That, and my breasts seemed to be the most appealing parts of me apparently, so much so that I was described as having great “chestonality”. Get it? Chest + personality? Can you see me rolling my eyes right now?
I was, however, a drama queen. I think it stemmed from my confidence issues. I wished I was taller (I still do), I wished I was slimmer (I still do), I wished I was super confident (I still do but I at least have some now). I wish I could tell myself back then that 10 years later I would give literally zero fucks about what people think of me – that someday this won’t rule my life like it once did. I think you liked drama and that’s what you wanted out of me. I think you wanted me to be wrapped around your little finger, your little plaything to do with as you pleased. In fact, when you broke up with me you even said I was “too much drama” for you. It was all too much drama for everyone. I hated myself by the end of it – for becoming fodder for gossip in that hateful school.
You were popular. All the girls wanted you. Most of the girls even had you. You were a player. An outrageous player. I had no business believing you. You were a smoker. You were a drinker. Even at such a young age. I felt safe in our friendship because I knew your popularity meant that you would never think of me in any other way that did not constitute a strictly platonic relationship. You had issues. You talked to me about them. I remember our school trip to Oxford. We both snuck out of our rooms and went up to the quiet floor where no one would find us. I was in my pyjamas and had a bag of sweets I shared with you and we talked. I found it sad that you secretly struggled like this, with your father’s alcoholism, your parent’s preferring your little brother to you, your own unhealthy coping mechanisms of alcohol, cigarettes and sex. Lots of sex.
Maybe I’m stupid for not seeing it coming. I thought I was special to you. I thought our friendship was special enough to you that you wouldn’t cross the line the way you did. Maybe it was because of our friendship that your feelings changed. But you shouldn’t have told her. She was my friend, not as close a friend as she was to you, but she was my friend. You knew she had feelings for you. You had already slept with her so many times before, using them to ease some of your own pain. You didn’t care that you hurt her by sleeping with her but telling her you had feelings for me.
Did you want her to tell me? Because you didn’t seem surprised when I asked you why she would say that to me. You got drunk that night. Do you remember? By the canal? I couldn’t understand what your problem was. Why you were treating me the way you were. Hot and then cold. Yes and then no. Talking and then totally silent. Getting angry with me when some of the girls (including her) teased me about the two other guys I was friends with who it also transpired had feelings for me. I thought they were joking. I found out years later they weren’t. But at the time it was just a joke to me. Why would they have feelings for me? They wouldn’t!
She dragged you away. To talk apparently. You could barely walk. I told her we should go back so we could put you into bed. If the teachers found out there had been drinking going on we would all be in trouble. I was more worried that I would get into trouble just by being with you all. I hadn’t touched a drop of it but I was guilty by association. She took you away. You two were doing god knows what together. I don’t want to know. I didn’t care. I just didn’t want to get into trouble. I didn’t want to let anybody down.
After you came back we all returned to the hotel. The teachers knew what had happened but none of us were drunk except you. So you would, of course, get into trouble when you were sober enough to remember it.
She took you to your room. I went to bed. At just after 2am you knocked on my door. You said it was true. You said you had feelings for me. I didn’t want to hear you. You made me listen to you. You told me you wanted me to want you. You said no one wanted you. That wasn’t true. I told you it wasn’t. She did. She always had. You shook your head. You didn’t want her. It was me. Why wasn’t I listening to you?
I didn’t want to.
We barely spoke for a few days. Rumours in the school ran rife and everyone knew something had changed. You refused to speak to her at all. She was distraught. She came to me, she begged me to consider your feelings. I couldn’t. I was afraid of this. I was afraid of you. You would hurt me. I knew you would. I knew. She begged. She wouldn’t stop. She said she was in love with you. She just wanted you to be happy. She didn’t want you to hate her anymore.
I agreed. On the condition she not mention a word of our conversation to you. She agreed. We had a deal.
We barely lasted until your birthday, you know. I just couldn’t. You were so much work as a boyfriend. It was all too much. It was all too heavy. Too intense. I couldn’t take the looks. The looks from people all over the place who asked you if you were out of your mind for making me your girlfriend. What the hell were you thinking? You were you and I was…well I wasn’t good enough for you. I wasn’t beautiful enough or popular enough or anything enough. It was just a phase. It was just a joke. I was a joke. And the whole time the shadow of your non-relationship with her lingered over us.
You spent New Years Eve with her. I couldn’t go out with you. I think you resented me for that but I was raised by a strict parent and at 16, it was just too late to be out in London with no adult supervision. I don’t know what you two did that night. She hinted something happened. I don’t know if you even remember. You were drunk and you called me drunk to tell me you loved me. I loved you too. I didn’t want to. Something in me thinks you slept with her again though. I wasn’t ready and I don’t believe you respected me enough to not sleep with a girl who gave herself to you in a way I never could.
It was all over as quickly as it had begun. Everyone knew that it was over and everyone knew that you and her were back together. Except this time it was more. This time you were officially together instead of fuck buddies. I moved on with a rebound. A guy in our drama class. There were 4 of us in that class, you, me, her and him. I wanted you to be uncomfortable too. I wanted you to feel what I was feeling watching you with her too.
I pretended it was fine. I pretended that it didn’t gut me that she intentionally suggested constructing a scene in our play that had you kiss her and touch her in front of me day in and day out. I pretended that it didn’t hurt to have to act as your tormented lover in every single play we had to do. It wasn’t fun for me rehearsing Betrayal or Closer with you. I pretended that every time he kissed me it was you. I pretended every time he touched me that it was you, even if it was stroking my hair. You loved touching my hair.
Even after we left school and went to university, you were still there. You got engaged to her but kept talking to me. You would call me, text me, message me or my sister. You hinted you still loved me. You told me I was the only girl you had true feelings for. You said I was the only one you had ever been in love with. I couldn’t trust you when we were together and I trusted you less after. How could you be saying this to me when you had been with her for almost 3 years?
It took me a long time to get over you. I won’t tell you how long. You don’t deserve to know and it was my fight. I did it myself. I got through it myself. I told myself I deserved better than your games. I know, a decade later, that it was all about you. It was always about you. Your False heart taught me a big lesson in trusting myself. I trust only myself now and no one else. And I won’t until my own heart tells me that anyone who chases me again is doing so because they want me, all of me, they see all of me and not just a conquest – a game.
I’m not an achievement. I’m not a tick in a box. My mistrust is not a quest for you to complete and then leave broken and stomped on. I am better than that. You taught me that I am so much more than what you saw in me.
10 years later I am more true to myself than I have ever been.
Neither you nor her can say the same.