Contributed by: Brenda Lozano, Program Analyst and Beauty Influencer
Get to know her on instagram: @BellaBeauty808
Story from: Hawaii
I still remember the first time I saw him on my university campus. It was 2006, my freshman year. Shaun* (name has been changed) captured my attention with his stature and big muscles. He had a presence about him that you couldn’t miss him if you tried. As soon as I saw him in COM 101 I knew I had to introduce myself.
After class ended, I speed walked to talk to him and within a week we were inseparable. My family had moved off of the island and he was a transfer from California. After a few short months, Shaun became my family. I shared my deepest secrets with him, we had inside jokes, sang to each other, complained about different classes, and just about everything else. Every guy on campus envied him and my friends wished they had a relationship like ours.
Of course, as mature as I like to think we were, we weren't. I craved attention and neglected friendships. And Shaun? He wasn’t perfect either. He had a temper at times and girls flirted with him left and right. But we were two young college kids in love. It was us against the world.
My birthday always fell during spring break in Hawai’i. During my birthday week, days shy of my 21st birthday I was upset with him. He had kept something from me and we got into an argument. I went to his place a day after our argument and had a bad attitude with him as I will still upset. In a split second, Shaun lunged at me and raised his hand, as if to hit me.
My 5’4 160 lbs self versus his 6’6 225 lbs stature was quite the difference. He could have severely injured me. As soon as I could get out of his apartment, I did. I ran for about 2 blocks with tears streaming down my face and my hands balled up into fists. I had never felt so afraid.
Eventually I made it back to my dorm room and he apologized shortly after. We stayed together for several more years after that. We met each others families, discussed marriage, broke up and got back together. I knew it was over long before it was over. There were so many times when it should have ended.
During the last few weeks of my junior year, I had a mental breakdown and he abandoned me afterwards (a clear sign he was not the right man for me, as if the abuse was not enough of a sign). But for some young naive reason I stayed in a relationship with him and after graduation when I got a job in northern California it made sense for us to move together but he said it wasn’t the right time for us to do so.
So we had a long distance relationship and he never came to visit me (another clear sign I should have picked up on). I cried myself to sleep for many nights during that time thinking love shouldn’t hurt this way. But I held on to our relationship like a lifeline. Why?
I held on because it was routine.
It was comfortable despite all of the heartbreak.
It was February 2013 and I had just gotten back from visiting Shaun. A week or so after my visit he sent me a text message in the middle of my workday breaking up with me. I was devastated. My stomach churned and my heart shattered. I immediately texted him back and received no response. After work, I called and called to no avail. He shut me out. Threw me away like a piece of trash.
The year after the break-up was HARD. There were many nights where I called him and of course, he would not pick up. I'd then leave tearful voicemail messages hoping he’d hear them and call me back. I lost myself in pain and wallowed in it. I became bitter and distrustful of men. I couldn’t express true happiness for my friends in happy healthy relationships. I did not recognize the person I had become.
This journey to healing wasn’t easy and I still find myself on it. After Shaun completely shut me out, I wished so many bad things upon him. I knew I was on my way to true healing when I wished pure happiness for him.
As for me, I am happy most days. Some days I think of him, if only briefly. Other days, my brain betrays me and I dream of him. When I am feeling a strong sense of pity for myself, I think that I had my chance at love and blew it. Most days though, I think about the future and envision a love so great that I couldn’t dream it if I tried.
So for now, I am trying to become the best version of myself. I fail myself often, but every day I work at it. I know I have to keep practicing true love towards myself.
I also am practicing patience. Patience with myself and patience that everything will work out the way it’s supposed to. It would be easy for me to regret all of those years with Shaun. To be completely honest I sometimes feel I wasted the best years of my youth with him but I know, without Shaun I wouldn’t have been able to dig myself out of that dark and painful place. So today, I thank him because I learned so much about myself and so much about I will not tolerate in a relationship. I learned that our relationship was far from healthy and there is a very big difference between love and lust.
Taking a step back and reflecting I find myself asking the question: What is the definition of love? Does anyone know? After Shaun and after everything I went through, I think love is resilient, steadfast, truthful, respectful, comforting, tender, loyal…and that’s just the shorthand version. One day I hope and pray love finds me; And when that day comes, I hope I am ready to receive it whole-heartedly and I hope you do too.
*Name has been changed
This is Aida, Founder of 365 Days of Love.
First, a big thank you to Brenda for sharing her story. I related to her on so many levels and am inspired by her resilience, strength and acceptance. I can’t wait till I celebrate the man you choose but until then I am honored to celebrate YOU today and every day.
Second a big thank YOU for reading this and taking the time to care for yourself, your heart and your life. If you enjoyed this and have a story or thoughts on love that you would like to share please get in touch (button below). We have 357 more articles to share and we hope to hear from you!