Usually, when you think of your first heartbreak, you think of an ex or a former love. You never expect your first heartbreak, your first disappointment, the first guy to hurt you to be a family member.
Heartbreaks don’t have to be based on romance in my eyes. They could involve betrayal and agony caused by someone you love dearly in a non-romantic way. When this person is someone close to you, someone you have loved with all your heart since the day you were born, someone you looked up to as a role model, the pain that they cause could very well count as heartbreak. A heartbreak is derived from someone who you loved but they let you down.
That is exactly what this person did. I loved this person with all my heart and still do, but he still let me down immensely.
When I was a child, he was the first man I loved. He introduced me to so many things and places, he spoiled me and he seemed to be the only person to understand me. In a world where I was bullied and a loner, he was always there for me. If I ever felt down I would remember that I was his little princess. All of my childhood memories consist of him. Him taking me to parks, to his workplace, going on school trips, and taking me around the city. We would have our own special days where I would take off from school and him from work just to spend time together. Every year we would go to this nice vacation spot in New Jersey where we would go to the beach and go on the rides. He always stuck up for me and went out his way to make sure I was happy. We just had that bond, which is rare with most of my family. I idolized this man so much that not once did his flaws become apparent to me.
Even when he made women cry, or when he would break things out of anger, or when he lashed out, I still saw him as perfect. He was so good to me and he never got physical with anyone so I thought nothing was wrong. Just like how I learned from this man the different parts of the city or about great musicians and how trees live long lives, I learned how to express anger the wrong way.
Obviously now I know it’s wrong, but with me being a child back then, I didn’t know any better. I assumed that he knew best. I tried to follow his footsteps in every way even if I began to notice he was becoming more and more alone and that his mistreatment toward people wasn’t fair.
I’ll now fast forward to when I was fourteen. By this time he and I would still spend time together from time to time but there was also a good distance between us. At this time I was a teenager and already he had stopped carrying me around and calling me princess, and rightfully so because I was fourteen and that wasn’t him. This story will not include any sexual or physical abuse because he never did any of that. There is verbal abuse, which hurts just as much, but that’s for later.
Anyway, I noticed for years that he began to let himself go. He stopped taking care of himself physically and that worried me. He also stopped going out and dropped one of his best friends out of the blue. He and his friend went all the way back to childhood and in my earliest memories he would go over to his friend’s house a lot and they would talk on the phone for hours. We would go over to his house just to watch boxing or hang out in New Jersey. The fact that he dropped this friend without any warning or argument seemed sketchy.
Since I loved him so much even though we were growing apart, I tried to talk to him. I tried to keep that bond going but it wasn’t the same. Gone were the days where he would take me out, gone were the days of conversation, gone were the days of sharing his intelligence with his little did-you-know’s. He lived with me, yet I saw him less. He spent more time alone in a room than with anyone. Going out with him was having my headphones on and praying he wouldn’t lash out or make a crude joke about someone. Conversations were just him making fun of people, which became a bore once I grew older and wanted serious talks and advice. His jokes became disturbing to me. When I came to him for advice, I would get mocked or ignored. A thought began to haunt me. What if he wasn’t perfect but rather an overly angry man who mistreated people and had a childish mindset? What if he had serious issues I overlooked because I was so blinded by my childhood perception of him? I was so fixated on the idea that he was perfect. Looking back now, I realize there was so many red flags to prove he wasn’t.
When this realization came over me, I was devastated. This was like finding out that your boyfriend who you have been with for a long time wasn’t who you thought he was but ten times worse because this was someone I knew all my life. I wasn’t ready to accept who he really was. I refused to let go of hope that he would become the man I saw him as when I was a kid. Sadly, that wasn’t the real him and I learned the hard way that once you see someone’s true colors, there is no going back. When I tried to talk to him, he dismissed it and told me he didn’t care about himself anymore. This disturbing comment, though I didn’t understand it as depression at the time, told me he wasn’t okay and that there was nothing I could do but watch the man I love fall apart and turn into a complete stranger.
One of my worst experiences with him took place in mid-2012. He, for a long while, was feeling sick and had pains in his body. Him being him, he ignored the pain until it became too unbearable. Then one night in August 2012, I was about to perform opening night for this play I was in at the time. After the show, I was informed that he was rushed to the hospital. While I was doing final rehearsals and my makeup, he decided he couldn’t take the pain anymore and rushed to the hospital. Naturally, I cried and cried. I visited him and saw him as vulnerable as can be for the first time ever. The man who I viewed as strong and flawless was lying on a bed in a hospital, too weak to speak and connected to IVs. He was hiccupping and far from himself. I tried to stay strong but I ended up running to the bathroom to break down.
What he had was called diverticulitis. It’s a disease in your colons caused by the consumption of too much unhealthy crap like fried foods and lack of fiber. The diverticulitis kept him in the hospital for two months. Excluding one week where he was sent home because he believed he was cured. He ended up facing sickness and unbearable pain again. I visited him twice but couldn’t get myself to anymore after a while. At one point they had to keep him isolated because he developed something contagious which was even scarier.
Despite undergoing a good amount of weight loss and going through a terrifying two months at the hospital, he still failed to take care of himself. I was sickened to watch what he had become and I still cry for him but at some point I quit trying to push him to take care of himself. I only hurt myself in the process and they do say that you can’t help someone who doesn’t want to be helped. I mean at least I can say that I tried.
Over the years he has gotten worse. Not just health-wise, which I won’t even talk about because it’s too unpleasant, but also in regards to the fact that his insults have gotten worse. He uses words to hurt the whole family. He would try and defend me. If he made me cry or insulted me for things like my depression he would apologize and blame it on having a hard day at work or something. I would think about it and compare it to abuse. Even if he has never hit or beaten any of us and there has been no sexual abuse involved, it’s still abuse. Eventually the apologies stopped because I stopped defending him. He began to see that I was no longer the naïve little girl that sided with his abuse. I would always feel pity for him and still do. I will always love him, but I can only do it from a distance. I long to be able to spend another day with him or be able to turn to him for advice without him judging me or acting cold. I long for him to start taking care of himself because even if he doesn’t care I do. I long to have that image of a happy loving family I’ve always had in my head with my parents, my sister, and I fulfilled. But the more time passes the more I realize that it’s never going to happen.
I can pray, I can beg, I can hope all I want. He’ll never go back to who he once was. That strong, perfect man I once knew is gone and he’s developed into someone I don’t know. All I’m left with is these memories of who he once was that hurts too much to think about. What hurts even worse than anything he says to put me down is the reality that he will never be the man I once knew again.