Project Description

About Melissa

I am 33 years old and I am a Clinical Psychologist working with mostly adolescents, though some children as well.  I am happily married with two amazing little boys who light up my world. I love to travel and explore my world though in recent years have also found value in surrounding myself with people who encourage me to be my best self, which many times can be found closer to home.  I find peace in nature, enjoy yoga and meditation, and continue to have a close relationship with God. I am grateful for all of life’s experiences, as it is these that have formed me into the person I am today. I write about my thoughts and experiences on my blog Journey to Present.

My Story

I was 18. I had this amazing boyfriend who pursued me and for the first time I felt like someone really loved me. I would do anything to hold onto that feeling. I lost my virginity to him, willingly, readily, and relatively early in the relationship. Prior to this, we knew each other through mutual friends and while he stated he had “heard” some things about me, he didn’t believe them. However, as time went on in the relationship, I came to find out that the things he had “heard” about me were true things. Guys I had hooked up with previously, things I wasn’t necessarily ashamed about, as this was the culture of the small town I grew up in. However, it became clear that he judged me for my past. He would make comments about the “girl I was before him,” as though he had made me better and without him I was worth less than with him. Again, I thought little of this other than to believe him; the girl I was “before” him must have been a “slut” as he implied.

By month 8 of our relationship I was aware that I was going to school across the country in the Fall and maintaining this relationship would be difficult. I became less invested and ultimately cheated, planning to break up with my boyfriend soon anyways. We did break up, though he begged for me back. I believed I loved him, but I did not want to have a long distance relationship. We got back together and somewhere in there I admitted I had cheated. I can still feel myself lying on his chest, the look on his face. I truly was a “slut” wasn’t I? I didn’t deserve him.

He insisted that we stay together and work things out. I wish I could tell you that I remember the months that followed but they are quite a blur to me now. I know that we stayed together, him supporting my leaving for school, until the day I actually left. I remember the romance of kissing in the rain, the night before I was to leave and crying.

More than that I remember getting to college and needing to talk to him constantly. We would talk for hours per night. I isolated myself from everyone other than my roommate and the girl we shared a bathroom with.  I tried to make friends, though they would quickly see that whenever I was out I needed to drop everything to talk to my boyfriend and I had to be back at my dorm at a certain time. I wasn’t the girl people wanted to be friends with. I cried pretty much every day. I was in a beautiful place but inside I felt ugly. He told me every day that he didn’t trust me. I couldn’t do anything to prove to him that I was not cheating. If I spent time with other guys who were genuinely friends I had to lie and say I wasn’t with them or he would be angry. I would want to go out to dinner with friends and he would accuse me of cheating. When I did go out, it was late at night, after our nightly phone call, so he would not suspect anything. I became a liar because I had to in order to leave my dorm.

We spent the year planning how we could ultimately be together.  When visiting my parents in Texas over Winter Break, my dad said that he would buy my boyfriend and I a house if we would move to Texas together to attend school. Come summer, he met me there and we found house after house we wanted to live in. We left my father to take care of the finacials. He stated that all these houses fell through and that he found out he could not have more than one mortgage within a certain radius of another. I think this is all bullshit now, but I didn’t know better at the time. Sometimes it still makes me angry, though I believe he was trying to protect me. My boyfriend had said all along that he was unwilling to give up his band back home and would want them to move with us. Again, I see the selfishness of this now, though at the time, I just thought his music was really important to him. Either way, we did not get a house in Texas.

However, I was already enrolled in school to transfer at this point and he said he was not coming with me. I spent the summer living with him in my hometown then left for Texas alone. We broke up once again. A few months went by, still talking often, I joined a sorority in some effort to meet people starting at a commuter school my Sophomore year. I drank some, hooked up a little, continued believing that I was all the things that he had called me. I told him I had hooked up with a guy. He came to visit. The whole time in my tiny apartment, he would not sit on my couch (he made the assumption that this was where this had occurred. It wasn’t). We got back together. Again, I was in this world of needing to be home at a certain time to talk to him, not going out, becoming more depressed with 3 and a half years still ahead of me in school before we could “finally be together.”

I met a very attractive guy at the gym I was working at. He said it was a shame I had a boyfriend…I was smitten, but I still had a boyfriend at home. We hung out once, nothing happened. I told my boyfriend. He was livid. I was honest that I was confused. I became more and more depressed. I remember this moment of looking in my bathroom mirror and seeing emptiness in my eyes. I remember thinking, “ I am his girlfriend. I don’t know who I am otherwise.” This was a breaking point for me. I needed to end the relationship. I had lost myself, lost my entire college experience, and I was afraid I would never find myself again.

He ultimately ended the relationship. He said he saw it was killing me. I dated the other guy for a week or two. Slept with him, knowing that the ex would never take me back if I was “tainted” by someone else. I was right. Hot gym guy was a nice guy, but much too serious for me and was so focused on his appearance that he couldn’t enjoy food or life for that matter. I was quickly unhappy and determined to fix things. I manically got on an airplane in an attempt to get my relationship back. I showed up at his house late at night, tried to climb into his lap and kiss him, though he was cold to me. Mission accomplished. He would not take me back after what I had done. I stayed one day more then flew back to Texas. I had lost both guys.

My Healing Journey

This is when the true depression started and I had a lot of suicidal thoughts during this time. I had spent years being mentally beaten down by my ex-boyfriend and believed everything he had said. And I hated living in Texas. So I applied for graduate school with my best friend, planning to come home, live with him, and find peace. In the summer, I spent 6 weeks in Ecuador and learned how to be self-sufficient and made friends from all over the world. I started graduate school in psychology and worked on healing myself as I learned how to heal others. I had friends stab me in the back and guys try to take advantage of me. I stood up for myself. I stopped apologizing for who I was and gained confidence. I started dating my now husband and went to therapy to work through all the pain from the previous relationship. It was difficult; I felt at times I still was not over him. My husband understood. I knew that what I had found was real and I could not let the past mess it up. I was loyal. I did not cheat. I did not have to change anything about myself or have to pretend to be anything else in order to be loved.

“You have the drive and ability to become the person you have always dreamed of being.”

To My Younger Self

My sweet girl, you are still so young and believe so much in love. This is not true love, not pure love that you are experiencing. Love does not break you, does not want anything from you, and does not bring out the worst in you. Love does not leave you crying every day and doubting yourself constantly. There is a much purer love ahead. Someone whom you can share every story with and he will share every story with you, without jealousy or judgment. You deserve this kind of love. You have the drive and ability to become the person you have always dreamed of being. You will become this person and the pressure of needing to impress others will fall away as you continue to grow. Your friends have always been an anchor and they will continue to be so long as you let them. You are not alone anymore. You have a beautiful life that you have built for yourself and you are amazing!