A couple months back, I ran into my ex’s mother, the woman I assumed would one day be my mother-in-law, with my daughter in tow. Even though I’d seen her once or twice around town while I was still pregnant, something about Ellie looking at her with carbon copies of Phillip’s eyes made this interaction different than the others. I left the store that day feeling nostalgic in a very bittersweet way.
Her son and I were together for 4 years throughout high school and the beginning of college. He was my first love and I sincerely believed we would get married someday… until I learned he had the ring I wanted hidden in his room and I guess the weight of the impending question set in with me. Our relationship was one of those that was awesome when things were good, but toxic when they weren’t which was more often than not. Allow me to quote Eminem in describing it as, “That’s what happens when a tornado meets a volcano.”
I won’t bash him, but I won’t romanticize our teenage love affair either. The good did not outweigh the bad. I’m referring to both of us when I say that there was a lot of negativity along the way. Emotional (occasionally, physical) abuse, punching of steering wheels after a fight, screaming, yelling, tears, and a couple of break ups thrown in for good measure made up our time together. We were jealous, controlling, and overall, immature. I’ll admit, part of the appeal of our relationship was that it was never boring. I think I was addicted to the chaos in the beginning, and over time, I wanted it to work so badly that I just ignored all of the red flags along the way. However, none of those things were a foundation on which I wanted to build a marriage, and it was when I started picturing our future together without my rose colored glasses that I realized we didn’t really have a future.
We were not good for each other and it took me a while to realize that. Judging by the posts I see everyday on social media, there are plenty of other women out there struggling with the same relationship problems, which is why I felt compelled to write this blog.
It’s a little sad that someone who was such a major part of my past is now a stranger to me, sure, but I love my life now. I never imagined myself being happy with anyone else while we were still together even when things were terrible simply because I was afraid of the unknown. Did we love each other? I can’t speak for him, but I did, absolutely. Was it the kind of love that endures a lifetime? No, and I never would have been able to experience the kind that does if I hadn’t been brave enough to leave.
Despite knowing we weren’t right for each other even back then, I can remember saying to him more than once that the idea of one day running into him in public with another man’s baby broke my heart. But when that actually happened on Friday (given, it was his mom, not him), it was fine. I’m doing well, his mom says he’s doing well and has a family of his own, and I can’t imagine that would’ve been the case for either of us if we had stayed together.
Looking back on our time together, I can see everything so clearly and I’m happy to say I don’t recognize the person I was back then. As badly as I wanted it to work with him at the time, I’m glad that it didn’t. My life now is everything I hoped it would be and I genuinely hope the same for him. Life is long and complicated with a lot of unexpected twists and turns along the way, and emotions & memories tend to go hand-in-hand, but sometimes you’ve got to see things for what they are instead of what you want them to be.
Forcing pieces to fit never made a pretty puzzle and relationships, I’ve found, are the same way. I try not to draw comparisons between my marriage and that relationship, but I will say that God’s plan for my love life has gone much more smoothly than my own, which isn’t really all that surprising. Like I said before, I was addicted to the chaos because I confused drama with passion, but Phillip is easy to love. Our relationship is calm, not to be confused with boring, and I wish I could’ve understood that at 17 just as badly as I wish I could get that through to the women on social media who are forever back and forth with boyfriends because of history.
I left the store wondering what my 16-year-old self would have thought about my run-in in the baby food aisle and all that’s happened in between.
Life’s weird, y’all. But hindsight is 20/20.