Near the end of my sophomore year of highschool, I met a girl. I won’t say her name, but we’ll call her “A.” She went to another school, and how we became well acquainted is a rather amusing anecdote of angsty teenage telephone tag and friend to friend messages, with just enough a dash of scandal to keep it interesting. But that’s not the story I need to tell. No, that’s a story we’ve all heard before. I need to tell the story of how I fell in love with her, and what came of it.

I did love her. It was different from anything I had felt before. It went beyond simply enjoying her company: I felt that I knew and understood her better than I ever had anyone before, and I felt a profound joy in my soul at the thought that, not only would I know her for a moment, but I would be able to watch her life unfold alongside mine, I would continue to know her and who she would become. I felt as though she completed me. And I was happy. And I wanted to do all I could to make her happy. Now let me be clear: I did not feel at that time that I needed to serve her so she would stay with me; but when I love people, I will do anything in my power to make them. Helping those I love gives my life meaning. But that’s a slight digression. The point is, I did everything I could to make her happy. And for a good, long while, things were great. She loved me too. She never did as much for me as I did for her, but I didn’t care, because she valued and appreciated me. But slowly, things started to change. And eventually, life reminded me that dreams don’t last by bringing out the nightmare.

It began with subtle hints that A was displeased. That may not sound abnormal for a relationship, especially a high school relationship, but this was different. I made sure she understood that I was willing to make any changes to how I treated her that she wanted, because my foremost concern was her happiness. But it soon became evident to anyone but the fool I had let myself become that she was not displeased with what I had done: she was displeased with me. She had begun to feel that I existed merely as a slave to her ends, and anytime she had to remember I was a human being too, it angered her. She had become convinced that she was better than me and that I was so nice to her because I knew I wasn’t worth her time. At the nine month mark was when it became truly horrible.

It didn’t matter what I did. I waited on her hand and foot, I gave her everything I had, and I did all I could, but it was never good enough. She herself would even say so. She no longer even tried to mask that she felt superior to me. But I was still so hopelessly in love with her that I couldn’t see she was hurting me. I would lay in bed at night crying because I hated how undeserving I felt I was. She had convinced me that I was stupid, incompetent, and unworthy of love. She would even call me stupid and ugly and garbage to my face, and I had simply accepted it. But like all people who have no regard for others do, she tired of her emotional plaything. She tossed me aside, and even before she did, I was pretty sure she was cheating on me. The cheating stung so much worse than anything else. But I have always had some resilience. I didn’t even cry when she broke it off, to be honest. I felt too broken already to mourn anything. I just picked myself up and tried to get back to life.

But I was miserable. Because even though I had begun to realize how she had manipulated and emotionally abused me, I had no idea to what extent. For months, I had still believed I was stupid, ugly, and unworthy. But one night, I was writing, as is my passion, and the power of the pen and page overwhelmed me. Any time you write (if you’re doing it right, at least) you’ll enter the “zone”: the mythical state of mind in which all your thoughts will come out on the page in focus. But that night, I went beyond the zone, to state in which thoughts and feelings and words converge to form beauty incarnate in ink, and what I had was not an epiphany, but a remembrance, in the way that one remembers childhood by a smell though they had lived as a child before: I am more than good enough. I am not stupid. In fact, I don’t care how narcissistic it sounds, but I am brilliant. I am more than capable. I deserve love.

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