When I was a teenager I fell in ‘love’ so many times. But, then again, I also had my heart broken many times. I had a quite a few boyfriends, but when you are young a boyfriend can be someone you have been ‘dating’ for two months and you fall in love and are ridiculously happy for those two months that you are in love, and then you break up and it’s earth shatteringly devastating. Until the next ‘boyfriend’ comes along. This isn’t to be confused with being slutty – at this age it wasn’t about sex for me, it was all about the love. It was about being 15, and so in love with the idea of being in love that your young self is intoxicated with what you believe at the time to be love. Until you age 10 years and realise the folly of your ways.
When I look back on these years I don’t regret how easily I ‘fell in love’. I know now that it wasn’t truly love, but at the time I felt it like it was real, therefore making it real. It also meant that the heartache of the break up was real. But, not until a few years ago did I experience the true painful experience of actual heartbreak. See, there is a difference between heartache and heartbreak, and when you are experiencing heartache it can be mistaken for heartbreak – which it did to my overly emotional heart. But, until you have experienced true heartbreak, you won’t be able to tell the difference.
I think about this story with mixed emotions. It was my first true heartbreak – thinking about it still makes my heart hurt. Not because I am still in love with him, far from it. The love I felt for this man was undoubtedly my heart still being 15 and not knowing what true love is. Yet, unlike all the other times my 15 year old heart got ‘broken’, this time it truly did break. So that’s where the mixed emotions come in – while I know now that I didn’t truly love this man, but at the time I thought I did, then why is this heartbreak so different from the others? Why wasn’t it just heartache? Why does it still hurt after all these years when I now do know that it wasn’t really love?
I do know the answer, but unfortunately it doesn’t really help me feel better. It still hurts. And it was the nature of the heartbreak that makes it still hurt. Betrayal. There is no other pain like it. And in this particular instance I was not just betrayed by the man I was ‘in love’ with, but also by someone who I saw as a friend, and it is this double betrayal that still makes my heart hurt when I think about it.
In my 4th year of University, just before my 21st birthday, I met said man. I had been through an incredibly difficult year the year before, and I came with what a lot of men see as ‘baggage’. So, when I met said man, and he accepted me baggage and all, I allowed myself to be very quickly swept off my feet. And then promptly dropped.
Our relationship developed very quickly – we spent all of our time together. I rushed to see him after lectures, spent every night with him, broke plans with friends to spend time with him instead, and neglected my studies because seeing him was much more important. Needless to say I was very blinded by love. I refused to see his jealousy, I refused to see he treated me badly, I refused to think that I deserved better. Me, with all my baggage? No way. So I let it progress this way, and I was truly shocked the day that he broke up with me.
Now that I look back I should have seen it coming. Our relationship was incredibly flawed and harmful to me. But I thought I was in love and I just wouldn’t see it. I wouldn’t let myself. Out of the blue, to me, he told me he didn’t love me anymore. That we weren’t working and that he couldn’t be with me anymore. He said he had wanted to break up with me for a while but hadn’t done it because he didn’t want a break up to interfere with my studies. So instead, within half an hour of me finishing my studies, he ended things. He used every excuse under the sun – I wanted to go to the UK and travel after I graduated and his life was still in South Africa. He said he needed to sort his life out, sort out his head, and he couldn’t do it with someone else in his life he had to look out for. He said he needed his space, and that it was him, not me.
I was shattered. I cried until there were no more tears. I turned to a friend – she pointed out all of the bad things about him to make me feel better. His jeans are too short, he has funny hair, he drinks too much. Everything she could think of to make me a feel better and ‘get over him’. All the while she was sleeping with him. They thought I wouldn’t find out. They thought that they would hide it for a few more months while I ‘got over him’ and then suddenly announce to me that they had just started seeing each other and hoped I would be ok with it. It didn’t really take a rocket scientist to put it all together, but I do kick myself for not having seen it sooner. It still feels like a kick to the gut when I think about it.
I can kind of understand it from him. The reasons he told me he broke up with, while not being the real reasons, turned out to be good reasons. We were bad together. He was bad for me and I know that now. We didn’t work, and I can understand why he found someone else. But her – that I will never understand. The night he broke up with me, I went to her house and spent the night there. I couldn’t stand the thought of being alone, so she let me stay over, she held me while I cried and told me it would all be ok. She told me that he wasn’t right for me, that I can do better. She brought up every bad thing about him, from his clothes to his personality to try make me laugh and see that I was better off without him. And the entire time she knew that she had slept with my boyfriend, and that she would carry on sleeping with my boyfriend. The knife in my back cut me deep.
When I found out that they were ‘suddenly together’ she asked me, as a friend, to be ok with it. But, what kind of a friend does that to a friend? I don’t want ‘friends’ like that in my life. I don’t want to know people like that. And so I don’t. I cut them both out of my life – it was the only way I knew how to heal. The betrayal of a boyfriend is one thing, the betrayal of a friend is another. And combined, they were deadly. This was heartbreak. I felt my heart shatter, I felt my world fall apart, and for a long time I was very messed up over it. I had officially graduated from heartache to heartbreak in one swoop. It took me a long time, but I did heal. I did learn that my life was better for not having them in it. I did find love again, and true love this time, and I did move on. But, that feeling is something that you might move on from but you never forget what it feels like, and when I think about these people, and this part of my life, I can still feel my heart breaking all over again.
The irony of the situation is that today, these two people are married to each other. They might be happy together, but they will always know that this is based on betrayal. There is no coming back from doing something like that to another person. So, while it may be spiteful, I do take some slight, twisted satisfaction in knowing that.