I was fuming. Furious. How could he hurt me in this way? And how could I ever forgive him? It was my junior year of high school, and I was officially over my on-again, off-again crush and his casual callousness. He played with my feelings and led me on in ways that were unbelievably mean, and I wanted nothing to do with him. I swore him off mentally and vocally, telling my best friend I was finally ready to move on.
The mystery man? That huge jerk? The guy who broke my freakin’ heart? Well, he’s on the couch next to me, so my resolve didn’t stick. Yup, you heard it right — Vagner the doting partner is the same guy who once told me, “I think that you like me, and I’m not interested right now. I’m sorry and I wish I was attracted to you.” The sweet boy who is the epitome of #husbandgoals is also the first guy who ever made me cry.
High school romances are fleeting and weird and dramatic, but I was deeply affected by our relationship’s rocky beginning — and it almost ended our journey before it really began. Even though Vagner got his life together and stopped treating me like crap, I resented him. I was mad at him every day. I cried when I saw pictures of the girls he’d flirted with. I dreamt about him leaving me and sharing that our relationship existed solely out of pity.
My friend, we reached a critical point nearly a year into our relationship where he couldn’t handle it anymore. He’d done all he could — apologizing endlessly and making every change I asked him to make. He put up with my often irrational tantrums about the past. But then…he couldn’t. He needed to know if I even planned on trying to move on. And I realized I didn’t. I secretly relished his pain because I wanted him to hurt the way he’d hurt me. I loved him, but I hated him. He was my best friend, but he’d also been my worst enemy.
So he told me that he needed to know if I wanted to work on forgiveness, if I even wanted to be with him, if I was going to try to make progress — and I told him I didn’t know. We agreed to take a day to think and pray and just figure things out and maybe take a break if we needed to. I vividly remember calling my college roommate sobbing and asking her for advice. And then I sobbed on my bed at the thought of losing Vagner until clarity came and I realized that I could choose to love him fully, even in the midst of my pain.
That day six years ago sticks out in my mind because it was a turning point in my life. I didn’t care about hurting people who’d hurt me. If they went low, I’d go even lower — but it was making me miserable. I’m still incredibly sensitive (thanks, anxiety!) but I choose to love Vagner even when I want to get revenge. I fight the urge to go for a jab sure to hurt his feelings — and I soften my heart toward him.
I do think it’s important to note that he’s genuinely repentant when he hurts me, and if I were with a partner who was gaslighting me or repeatedly disregarding my feelings, I’d peace out. I don’t want you to feel like I’m telling you to accept terrible treatment if your significant other is intentionally hurting you! But if you are with someone who is kind and gentle and lovely and sometimes makes mistakes, I encourage you to soften your heart and consciously choose to ignore the desire for retaliation. We get to decide to love our spouses. There’s something downright holy about that.