The most familiar line at the beginning of a fairy tale is “Once upon a time…” but mine starts differently…
He was the nicest guy I had ever met.
I think back through my story and the beginning looks a bit fuzzy. I feel as though time has obscured some of the details. There are moments however that stand out as if they are in bold print, highlighted, and the only words on the page.
These are the ones I will be telling you about. They are the bones of my story.
So where does this story begin? At Bob Jones University. We will start in my Junior year and with a young man.
He was the nicest guy I had ever met.
One of my room mates at that time felt that he was nice too. Too nice. Her words, like a prophecy in my life, still ring in my head:
“Nobody is that nice.”
She didn’t buy it. I did.
He was nice, attentive, sweet, communicative. Sure there were a few things about him that I didn’t love but I glossed over those things. My family? They were not so sure about him. One of my sisters got along fairly well with him as they were in college together for an entire year after I graduated. They had become like brother and sister. He had to work hard to earn entry into my family though, harder than any of my other brothers in law did. (I have four siblings, three of which are sisters, all married). This was a source of bitterness for him. He brought it up over and over again through the years.
After we had begun dating, I had several girls on campus come up to me to caution me about this guy. They had heard I was dating him and warned me to stay away, saying he had broken their friend’s, sister’s, or room mate’s heart. Most of the girls I didn’t even know. He chalked this up to girls having an unrealistic view of casual dating, stating they fell too hard too quick. I accepted this explanation and disregarded their advice.
We began dating exclusively within a week of meeting. This was fall. In the spring, he kept telling me something curious. I am still not really sure why he did this but I do believe it is significant. He kept warning me that spring was the time he got the itch to move on and that he was most likely to break up with me then. He said this many times and I wondered if I was soon to be the next girl dismissed. I look back at that now and wonder why I earth I continued to date a guy who warned me he might break up with me soon because he never dated a girl for long. Sigh. Please don’t judge. I have already kicked myself many times over this.
I was showered with compliments and amorous effusions. There is a term for this. It’s called love-bombing. It is an attempt to reel in a victim and capture their affection quickly and accelerate the advancement of the relationship. Here are some good examples of statements that a narcissist will use during the love-bombing process as noted in this article (https://www.firstwivesworld.com/index.php/my-narcissistic-ex-husband/item/8959-what-is-love-bombing).
- You understand me like no one else ever has.
- I feel like I’ve finally found my soulmate.
- I’ve never felt like this before.
- I feel like I can finally trust someone again.
If you ever hear any of these phrases or ones similar to them while in a dating relationship you take note and look for other signs that may indicate an attempt at entrapment. These words are heavily laden with emotion and to the right person may be enough to instill guilt at the thought of ending the relationship. Be very cautious before moving on and be ready to end the relationship. If you are emotionally involved (it is likely you are), it will be difficult, but you will be saving yourself immeasurable grief in the future.
Back to the story. Spring came and he did not break up with me. It made me feel special. (See how that stage was set up?) We spent way more time together than we should for people attempting to obtain college degrees which is another aspect of love-bombing. I was bearing my soul to him (I am normally a fairly private person despite the fact that I now have a blog). The attachment was solidified.
Fast forward a year. I graduated and he was still in college for another year and a half, a fact that really bothered him. He did not like that I was ahead of him. I was out working a “real” job and he was still stuck in school (his words). So for that year and a half our relationship was long distance. My parents challenged me on some things they saw and heard but I ignored their concerns. We talked for hours on the phone and I cried frequently when we talked. It seemed something was always amiss, that there was always some miscommunication. I cannot even remember what most of it was about, but I do remember he was very very insecure.
On May 3, my birthday, I was packing for a trip with his family. He kept trying to get me to take a walk at the park with him. I kept stalling. He was obvious and I could tell what he was planning. He finally implored my mom to help him get me to leave the house with him. I supposed it was inevitable and I left with him. We reached a dock at the park and he dropped to one knee. His greatest wish was that I cried in response to his proposal. He expressed this frequently. It was very important to him. I felt the pressure and managed to cry a few tears. Unfortunately in the upcoming years I would not have to try to manufacture tears as they would come on their own too often.
It was not a long engagement. Seven months and three days. One hundred eighty-eight days until I lost my freedom and would begin to lose who I was as a person piece by piece.