I have grown exhausted and oh so tired of feeling like there is not a soul on this planet who truly knows me, for I can say for a fact that no one truly knows my story. Granted, there are a handful of people who know bits and pieces of my story, but they only know what I allow them to see and what they choose to believe. I marvel at the fact that I myself am a mysterious person, but I have made my life so closed off and built the walls so high that I am virtually unknown. I don’t want to leave this earth knowing there isn’t a single person who truly knows the real Ember Crane. So here begins the first installment to my story, and what I wish I would have believed long ago: Honey, that’s just not love.
It all began during one of the lowest points in my life; the isolation period, as I see fit to call it. And while the reasons that created this time of utter and crippling loneliness belong to another chapter of my book, it all boils down to what I was, or at least what I believed I was. I was the wallflower of the family; an outcast of the lowest type. I seemed to repulse people with who I was, and they rejected me every time, treating me as if I was a disease. I had literally no friends other than a dog, and the only friend I ever really had at that point I wasn’t allowed to associate with, as per my parent’s demands.
The two years of total isolation and distancing myself from the world resulted in a seventeen year old Ember Crane who had built up walls around her heart higher that the Eiffel Tower and as impenetrable as the strongest force-field. I knew nothing but the darkness that engulfed every section of my life, haunted by the demons that cursed me at night and literally screamed out at me in the night, their terrifying voices told me exactly what I was from that dark corner that hovered in my room at night. It was petrifying, and the fear they created in my heart made me physically unable to move or speak, so I sat there alone, burning with fear, until the morning. I couldn’t fall asleep without drowning out their voices with music, and I became a narcoleptic insomniac. My life was spiraling down the drain like the little water-tornadoes in the bathtub I used to watch as a young girl. Depression had wrapped its grip around me and sank its claws deep into my being. I tried to drown myself at the age of fifteen in our own pool we had in the front lawn, but just as everything else I attempted, I obviously failed.
Fast forward to the best day of my life, or so I thought. It was the day I met him, the one whom I hoped was the love of my life, yet I was gravely mistaken. Too blind to see, too weak to resist, too alone to care. I just wanted a friend and he was putting in a lot of effort to know me. Maybe this time something wonderful would happen; perhaps he would be the one…
It was on a cool March night when he walked into my life. His name was Patrick, and he had been the first person to actually notice my presence as I walked into that room for the five hundredth time. I opened the door and silently walked myself to the couch where I usually sat alone until people had to sit next to me because there were no other seats left and they had no choice. I didn’t understand why he kept glancing over at me and smiling, but as the weeks passed by he never spoke a word to me or introduced himself to me. I thought perhaps he never would, until that one day he did. From then on, I never really knew what to expect as sometimes he seemed to genuinely like me as a person, and others he looked utterly repulsed by my presence. But from that first hello blossomed a friendship like none other, and I was so thankful to finally have a friend. With an excruciatingly painful amount of effort on my part, I slowly and cautiously let him into my life until that one destined evening I fell in love with him like the typical foolish girl I am.
But how could I resist? Patrick was the only friend I had, and for the most part he was nice to me. He always came over to talk to me when no one else noticed me, and he eventually started inviting me to hang out with him and his friends, something that had never happened before, and I couldn’t understand why it was happening now. He must have been different, so I believed, so I let him slowly into my life.
He introduced me to his friends and even left me with a guy who, at the time, was his best friend. This was the night I became friends with a kid I had unknowingly met several years before in an art class, and it wasn’t until several months later that we would actually realize we had known each other prior to the day we thought we first met. That night, Patrick introduced me to Josh and we instantly clicked like never before. Little did I know, that planted a seed in Patrick’s heart that would one day wreak havoc on more lives than just my own.
The months flew by and they became the best months of my life, although I’d bet they were awkward months for Patrick and Josh, my newfound friends, because I was such a socially awkward person who was trying so hard to just be a friend and be myself. To some extent, it apparently worked with these two as they soon became my two best friends. Summer came and went, and we all took a trip to the theme park together. That’s when everything became so complicated for those three besties.
It was late August, and I had been friends with Patrick and Josh for about a year or so, and I knew Patrick liked me as more than a friend, although he had yet to actually admit that out loud, and for some reason I felt like he owned me. Maybe because up until that trip we took to the theme park I believed I liked him that way too. Perhaps it was the way he told his friends he was the only one who was allowed to invite me places, or the way he watched me. And when the day finally came that I realized I just might actually be falling for Josh instead, I couldn’t do a thing about it because I truly believed in my mind that I was someone else’s property. And on the drive home from that trip to the theme park, Patrick saw the way I was falling and he did not approve. He sat in the seat behind Josh and I as Josh offered me one of his earbuds and asked, “Wanna listen with me?” I agreed, and we listened to The City of Ember book-tape on his iPod until the two of us eventually fell asleep. And though I knew at the time that Patrick would be overcome with insane jealousy, I didn’t care one bit because Patrick chose not to sit next to me when, on the other hand, Josh did.
When we arrived home and after I said goodbye to Josh, Patrick pulled me aside and said he needed to talk to me about something important, but he couldn’t do it there. He asked me to meet him for ice cream the following day, to which I agreed nervously; I wasn’t sure what he needed to talk about. When the next day rolled around, we spent most of the time just talking about him and his dad and brother whom he lost, and we looked at old photos together from his childhood. The night came to a close and he drove me home, saying nothing of what he needed to discuss until I was about to get out of his car. “I need to tell you a story, and I am not sure if I should. I just don’t know if it is right….” he began. I shut the car door and turned over to see he was holding a piece of lined paper in his hand. After ten to twenty minutes of debating if he should actually read me the story or not, he finally did, and that was the night he had confessed that he had fallen in love with me several months before when we sat on a bench in the dark and I told him of my battle with depression.
Fast forward a week later. It was my birthday and he surprised me with a CD from my favorite band and asked if he could take me out to pizza, since that too was my favorite. With me I took a letter in which I agreed to trust him with my heart as I poured my soul out on paper, just as he asked the week before as he asked to start a romantic relationship with me. I wanted to die the day I gave him that letter, maybe because my mind knew that a love prompted by jealousy wasn’t right, but my heart just longed to be loved and have someone to love. Besides, Josh was far too great to ever like someone like me, and Patrick assured me at the time that Josh was interested in someone else. He went on about it for a bit and laughed as he remarked that the girl Josh liked was, in reality, infatuated with himself rather than Josh. He essentially mocked his “best friend” as he spoke the words, “It’s kinda funny how that worked out. Josh always gets friend-zoned!” Patrick then read my letter and was happy I agreed to start a relationship with him and that I was willing to trust him with my heart.
Fast forward to the next week. By that time it was early September, and I was having the best day I had in a long while. I had just finished my first day of a new Job making pizzas with an older lady who would become one of my favorite people. I got a text after my shift ended from Patrick asking if he could meet me at the park for something urgent and important. Foolish Ember thought, since I had just given him permission to pursue my heart the week prior, that perhaps we would go for a stroll around the lake, or maybe even he had a surprise picnic planned for me since it was around dinnertime. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
That evening in the park would be the first time out of three that Patrick would shatter my heart entirely, among the countless times he battered and trampled my heart into the dust of the earth. I pulled up beside him, and I when I saw the expression on his face I grew anxious. What was going on? I stepped out of my car to meet him and I noticed what he was holding in his hand; the letter I wrote to him the week before that answered his questions regarding what love meant to me and offering my heart to his care. I tried to be happy and bubbly, but he instantly shot me down. He began to state how gravely mistaken he was to have asked for my heart, and he was in a panic as he stated he wanted to return not only the letter I wrote to him, but also my heart. He knew in his heart it was wrong, and his mom also assured him of how wrong he was to be in love with me. She hated me from day one, at least that is how she made it seem, and he worshiped his mother all the while claiming he hated the way she was. He shoved the letter into my hand and left me in tears in the parking lot. What was so wrong with me that I couldn’t even keep a boyfriend for one week? My mind exhausted itself, baffled at what went wrong, but knowing deep down it was inevitable due to who I am.
The weeks that followed were strange, as Patrick was on-again, off-again about or relationship. One minute he acted like I was his and the next he refused to see me or even respond to my texts. He strung me out and stripped my heart down to the wire, but he wouldn’t set me free and let me go. I tried to leave and he would threaten me with thoughts of how he would harm himself, and that if he lost me he would cease to desire life. I tried to stay, and he broke me down and cut me open with his words and actions, and that;s just not love. Too bad I was too blind to see there was, in reality a way out. He manipulated me into believing I belonged to him, so I accepted it.
I went through a year and a half of the abuse he put me through, which I will go into detail in later posts, before I finally found the power to break free from the endless cycle that had rendered me lifeless. I was sucked into believing I was worthless and that no one could ever love me. I truly believed this was what I deserved, and I could never deserve a good love and the happily ever after that I had always dreamed of. I lost myself entirely trying to please Patrick and make things work, because no matter what I did, he always was angry or hurting me. It wasn’t love, and I knew that. It was far from what I wanted, but I didn’t know that I could find a way out, as I tried so many times before. It just wasn’t love. I know that and I knew that.
So while I tried everything I could to please him and make things stable, I believed I deserved nothing more than the abuse he served me. I tried to convince myself that he really does love me, otherwise he would have left…right? Surely he doesn’t mean to do this to me because this time he says he really is sorry and he is going to change. He promised he would do better, he promised he would treat me right. He vowed to love and cherish me, and I gave him chance after chance to fulfill that hollow promise.
Without further adieu, welcome to the Honey, That’s Just Not Love series in the story of Ember Crane. With this, I hope to help anyone who is in a toxic relationship to see that it just isn’t love no matter how much they, or even you, try to convince you[rself] that it is. Despite the manipulation and threats, there is a way out. If I am strong enough to escape, you are too because I promise you that isn’t love. I promise you that you deserve better. I promise you that it will be okay. You are worth far more than suffering at the hand of someone who claims to love you unconditionally. Love is not perfect nor is it easy, but when your story sounds like mine, you can trust that it is not love.