A young woman’s story of hurt and healing:
“Any man would be so fortunate to have you in his life. If I were a man, I would pursue you relentlessly.”
This is exactly why I love my best friend. She never fails to make me feel extraordinary. Her words may come across as prejudiced as a result of our twelve-year friendship—but really; no one can fault her for pointing out the truth as she sees it. She could very well be right. Any man would be fortunate to have me in his life. Sadly, I never believed any of it three years ago.
It was the first term of my sophomore year in Graduate School when I first met “John.” We were classmates in two subjects, but I never really noticed him. He was no more than a face behind the name off a class list. And I was just too darn blasé to make any conscious effort to mingle. To me, that time, he was just another student who belonged in a social circle so different from mine – which meant zero chance for any interaction outside class.
Or at least that’s what I thought before “John” refuted this with an unexpected text message a couple of weeks into the term. That lone text message proved to be a very effective conversation starter. Not too long after the initial exchange of messages, I found myself a new friend.
And “John” was the perfect guy friend. He seemed like this rare mixture of an indulgent father, a doting mother, an overprotective brother, a gallant gentleman, and a trusty confidant. He looked after me, pampered me a bit too much, and he made me laugh like no one ever had. In a span of a month, he had become my male best friend.
But as much as I want to maintain that our friendship was purely platonic, I am quite certain it never was. For months, we both willingly trod along that dangerously fine line between friendship and a romantic attraction. Eventually, we broke that cardinal rule of a guy/girl friendship – we crossed the line. Instead of a happily-ever-after ending, the opposite happened. Everything just went loco from that point on.
It was the quintessential case of M.U. (not mutual understanding but malabong usapan). We went out on dates, shared the most intimate details of our lives with one another, talked about our future together, and even dared to utter the word “love”. All these without one very important detail: a commitment.
I was not happy with our arrangement. Just like any other woman, I wanted the assurance of a committed relationship. But I settled, nonetheless. I settled for what he could give me. I justified his inability to commit to somehow comfort myself. I had to content myself with assumptions to pacify the questions in my head.
I am a smart person. I have an IQ level worthy of MENSA. But those days, my sense of logic was bordering on idiotic.
“Maybe he just had deep-rooted issues which he had to resolve first on his own…”
“Maybe he just needed time to recover from his last relationship…”
“Maybe he would eventually come around and realize he wants me to belong to him in every way…”
I completely abandoned all reason and willed myself to believe those words. I clung tightly to each tiny flicker of hope those thoughts offered me. For as long as I could, I ignored all the glaring red flags which screamed: Get Out. Fast.
As if those were not enough, I compromised my standards, my values, and my self-respect. I stripped myself off of what little self-worth I had and stooped down to his level. Never mind that he was a 30 year old bum who still lived off his parents’ money, or had a year-long affair with a married woman and even cohabitated with his past girlfriends, or the fact that we never really shared the same beliefs, intelligence level, and social status. Never mind that he was far from the ideal man I have always had in my mind or that never in a million years will my family ever approve of him. I gladly overlooked those and thought to myself that I was just so darn fortunate to have a man, any man, take interest in me.
So for months, I did everything and anything to please him. I changed my lifestyle to suit his. I adjusted my schedule to accommodate him. I blatantly lied to my parents, cut my classes, and ditched my closest friends just to spend time with him. In a way, I changed myself to be this one person he would commit to and want in his life.
Still, he did not.
Finally, the whole non-commitment issue took its toll on me. It hit me. He didn’t really love. If he did, he would have not made me feel tired, restless, and unsettled by keeping me suspended in mid-air and always second guessing our status. So I ended it.
The next four months were barely manageable. I was beyond hurt. I was angry, bitter, and cynical. And as if fate was bent on torturing me some more, his best friend told me the single most upsetting news — “John” had gotten someone pregnant (the girl in his life before me. the one I didn’t know about) and married her. Hearing that piece of news, it felt as if someone sliced up my old wounds and poured acid over them. It didn’t just sting, it felt numb. I despised him for my pain but I hated myself even more. I thought it was my fault why he didn’t choose me. Maybe I was too difficult to love or maybe not pretty, smart, and nice enough for him. I figured, I simply was not good enough for him. In a snap, I was reduced to my old self – the self-hating, insecure, and pitiful me.
Here’s the thing you have to understand about me: I had a miserable childhood. I was a fat, dark, ugly kid who had to live with perfect strangers calling me nasty names and classmates ostracizing me. But what really left me emotionally broken was hearing harsh words from my family which reinforced other people’s perception of me. I grew up having little faith in who I was, what I was capable of, and what I had to offer. I have always thought I was never good enough for anyone.
The damage to my self-esteem was just so severe that I never truly loved myself. I may have undergone my own version of the evolution and turned my social world around (from being the object of ridicule, I became the antagonizing, mean girl) but emotionally, I was stuck in the past. I was still an empty shell.
Then “John” came. I started hoping that he was that person who will excise the demons of my past and prove to me that I was worthy of anyone’s love. But what happened was the exact opposite. He reaffirmed my insecurities a million times over and that left me utterly shattered.
Months passed and after every last bit of hatred and bitternes subsided, one thing became clear to me – I did this to myself. Yes, he was not entirely blameless for what transpired but I have to admit, I was a willing victim. I gave him that much power to cause me pain. I allowed him to do that much damage to me. I opened up myself too quickly and laid my heart on the line. That was my mistake.
Pulling myself together was a long and tedious process. I never thought I would be able to go through it virtually unscathed but I did – with a lot of help from another newfound friend: HIM. He showed me that behind every tear, pain, and disappointment lies some of the most priceless lessons in life. Yes, I believe that pain is an imperative part of the learning process. He allows this not because He is some sadist who finds pleasure in seeing us crushed with grief. Rather, He lets us experience pain to mold us into the people He intended us to be.
Coming to terms with my flawed self was another thing. I struggled to be vigilant about fighting the demons of my past. I have lived 24 years loathing myself, I thought it was too late to learn how to love myself. But then again, He proved me wrong. This much I know now – He deliberately created us with imperfections because that’s where our real beauty lies. It’s because of these imperfections that we all learn to lean on Him – we ask for His grace, we draw strength from Him, and we realize that we need Him. It is because we are greatly flawed that we are deeply loved by Him.
So going back to what my best friend said: she was right. Any guy would be so fortunate to have me in his life. After all, I am worth a lot. Much, much more than what I initially allowed myself to have. His great love is the ultimate affirmation of that.
Kuya Kevin’s Comments:
Based on the quality of your writing, I believe you are a very intelligent young woman. I’ve read your story many times since you first submitted it.
First and foremost, I want to say I’m sorry. I’m so sorry to hear about what happened to you during your childhood. This part of your story weighed heavily on my heart.
Next, I want to thank you for sharing this testimony. I know that you’ve done this in order to minister to other hurting people.
Your story brings out a very important point: when we are hurt in those vulnerable childhood years, it can have long-lasting consequences. It can negatively affect our ability to make wise relationship decisions. Now that you are more aware of this vulnerability, please be extra careful in your future relationship choices.
I’m happy to hear that you have met Jesus. He is the ultimate Healer! Keep following Him and you will not be disappointed.
God Bless You,
This is one of the stories you can find in Learning the Hard Way: True Stories of Heartbreak, Healing, and Hope.
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