Thursday, November 19, 2015

First True Love (and my only)

I was only thirteen years old, and I quickly discovered what it meant to feel the pain of loss. It was my first substantial dose, and to this day I can still recall every detail. 

In my memoir, Long Blue Line, I write about the day leading up to this loss. I felt the pain emotionally and physically. I felt strong jolts of energy pulsating through my arms and out of my finger tips. I sobbed for night after night. I felt empty and incomplete. I felt as if a part of me left. 
The better part of myself who I had grown to love and accept was gone. 

Long Blue Line 

Chapter 1, Page 7

"My First Time: How I cringe! I mainly cringe because I was just so young. He was my first boyfriend, and his name was Andy. Even though we were just kids, I still believe to this day that we were truly in love. Clearly, we wanted to move much more quickly than we were really ready for, physically and emotionally. We were together constantly for about a year. He lived with his grandparents, and his grandfather picked up a job out of town about four hours away. Eventually, he had to move. On moving day, my mom dropped me off at his house to help him and his grandparents pack. Another friend of ours, Jesse, was there too. The few hours I spent watching him pack his life away was utter heartache and torture. I had a lump in my throat and it took everything that I had in my soul not to break down and cry. I was too embarrassed at that age to show emotion, and for Andy, it had so much depth to it. We were both each other’s firsts - first in everything in the romance department. He was my first true love. When my mom returned to pick me up, Andy pulled one of his childhood stuffed animals out from a box about ready to be taped shut. He then doused the bear with his cologne that I loved. Standing in front of his empty garage, with my mom and twin waiting to take me shopping down the hill with them, I had to make the goodbye as fast as possible before I broke down in front of everyone. Andy and I gave each other our last ever hug and a quick kiss with definite plans to be together again. For the next week I cried myself to sleep hugging and smelling the stuffed bear which was all that I would ever have left of my first true love. It took me about three months to realize that we couldn’t be together. We were too young, and having to wait for four years is a long time to a teenager."

Adolescent love for a small 15% is much, much more than what some would call puppy love. It leaves an imprint in the mind of the individual(s) for years to come, if not for the rest of their lives.

I don't talk about the details of what happened after Andy left in my book. Looking back now, this was a turning point in my life. There were several things about my relationship with Andy that I didn't have the mental capacity of understanding. We were just kids, so of course the adults in our lives weren't taking what we had built together seriously after he moved away.

When Andy and I found each other, we were both in a state of innocent vulnerability. We just didn't know it. What we had was so unusually powerful for many reasons, but the fact that we had these commonalities made it even more significant:

1) We were our first for everything; sex, love, emotional bonding
2) We had both never had our hearts broken prior to being together

These two variables alone have been proven in psychology to increase the likelihood that an emotional imprint would be left with both of us to live with if we were ever separated. And we were.

Now, fifteen years later, we are reunited and can't help but look back at the past and wonder how things could have been if we were not separated. 

In an article published by Psychology Today, written by Carl E Pickhardt Ph.D.
Surviving (Your Child's) Adolesce, there are points made, that are all too familiar.

"It is a merged relationship — so each one feels part of the other, not quite whole when they are not together. They are highly sensitized to each other — so both are alert to subtle interpersonal signals and are easily hurt by small slights from each other. The intimacy is deeper than with anyone else. Too feel so deeply known and deeply knowing makes other relationships seem shallower by comparison.

There can be a sense of a desperate attachment — so the joy of having each other is coupled with the fear of losing each other. And there are conflicts of a painful kind as they wrestle with issues of freedom and possessiveness, honesty and deception, trust and jealousy, togetherness and separateness, satisfaction and sacrifice.

It’s important for parents to be mindful of these tensions in order to appreciate the complexity with which their son or daughter is dealing. In-love comes at a price of periodically being very unhappy when harmony is temporarily lost or obstacles are encountered.

Break ups of in-love relationships in high school are particularly painful for the one who is broken off and feels hurt, helpless, betrayed, abandoned, or rejected. Sometimes the response to being jilted in an in-love relationship seems to be sex-linked.

Young women often grieve pain from loss and may respond more depressively. Allowing themselves to feel deeply saddened, they are often able to reach out for social support to help them though a hard passage. At worst, they are at risk of doing themselves harm. "I can't live without him!" "I'll never be loved again!"

Young men, by contrast, who are more accustomed to toughen up, suppress hurt feelings, and go it alone, may respond more aggressively. They may be more inclined to manage pain from loss by turning it into anger. They may decide to do something about it, responding to get the woman back for hurt received, to reassert control, to save social face, to get even. At worst, they are at risk of doing harm to the other person. "She was just out to hurt me!" "She'll pay for this!"

Often young men seem to fall in-love harder perhaps because they are more starved for emotional intimacy than young women who often have enjoyed it with close female friends over the growing up years. Young men may not have been used to opening up and emotionally sharing with anyone, least of all with male friends. In high school, young men in love who are jilted can be more deeply hurt than they let on, less likely to seek emotional support, and more prone to retaliation too.

So the guideline for parents is: take falling in love and in-love breakups seriously with your adolescents. Don’t dismiss them as just the rough and tumble of “puppy love.” If your son or daughter in high school is jilted in an in-love relationship, you should put that young person on a watch for any signs of a depressive or aggressive response."

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