Looking back on my late teens while my dad was sick, my mom was his caregiver and my siblings and I were getting accustomed to a new normal I realized that in all of my choices outside of home all I wanted was to be normal (so badly).
"It made me forget about being sad and I was hooked on that feeling."
So much was changing and I wanted to act like it wasn't. I resisted it by doing the most teenagery thing and dove into relationships. I started dating my first real boyfriend in the 11th grade. He was cute and definitely not on my radar since I'm almost certain he tried flirting with my best friend for weeks first in class. He was a hockey player, the jokester, charming and he asked me to go for pizza at lunch weeks after after my friend teased the idea but wasn't interested in him. We talked for weeks after on MSN and texted on our flip phones. I was so excited. That feeling of something new and exciting starting was the most normal I'd felt in a while. It made me forget about being sad and I was hooked on that feeling. We actually got along really well. We had the same humor. I'm sure if we met today for the first time we'd be friends. I'm grateful my first experience was with someone like him. He was a flirty, eager teenager which in short was what led us to break up at the start of university. That space from him and that entire situation was exactly what I needed.
Throughout dating him there were moments that I couldn't take that sadness that initially he made me forget about or hide it and that led to some awkward mascara mixed tear filled t shirt moments after trying to console me. Sorry to your mom who had to wash those shirts out ! Grief followed me in all places and came out of nowhere at times even when I felt happiness. I went to high school parties, prom, had teenage couple fights about jealousy, had fun weekend dates together with him and best of all had an extra person who cared about me to look out for me. Most of the people I was friends with or a part of a friend group with, had no idea the pain I was going through or what my reality was. I pushed it down and tried so hard to fit in when everything in my life was crashing and we were a phone call away everyday for years from hearing that my dad wouldn't make it.
My reflections on these years 10 years later
After that summer I started my second year at university downtow. New space, new people, new opportunities. What a breath of fresh air but little did I know that my issues and grief would continue to follow me despite the change of scenery. I ran toward opportunity- education and a chance to provide for my family better but partly ran from my grief in the process. It would always catch up to me..
TO BE CONTINUED ..