In spite of them, I'm still here

I might as well have been the landfill for liars, cheaters, and manipulators

Every past relationship chopped away at my heart, soul, and self-esteem until it got to the point where I didn't believe in love anymore. Each guy seemed to care only about himself. I was always more in love with them than they were with me. I might as well have been the landfill for liars, cheaters, and manipulators. The abuse was never physical, but it might as well have been. I still have scars and I'm sure I always will. I settled for less than I deserved, and I just chocked it up to being happy with what I could get. I was so afraid to let go because I thought I wouldn't find someone else. Despite being in college still, I feared never getting married or having children. I didn't date in high school; not by my choice, but because no one chose me. I didn't have a great self-esteem to begin with, and the relationships with each piece of scum didn't make things any better. I had been so hurt not by them not loving me back, but by their indifference. They didn't have feelings about me one way or the other. Sure, they liked me enough in the beginning, but after a month or two things went nowhere fast. One boyfriend didn't even care enough to break up with me, he simply stopped speaking to me, stopped taking my calls, and acted like I didn't exist. I had never been so hurt by someone before. The next three relationships weren't much better, but at least they ended with real words instead of silence. It actually got to the point that I stayed with one guy even after he told me he was married. I had no self-respect left and figured this was all I could get, so why leave? I must have gotten some of my sense back, because I ended it soon enough after because of the extreme guilt I was feeling. At least I was still feeling something. I couldn't understand why no guy stuck around. I never complained, I wasn't clingy, I was laidback and low maintainence, and I loved sex. What was I doing wrong? One year ago, I decided to stop what I was doing. I realized I wasn't doing anything wrong, except for meeting guys that weren't good for me. I had been miserably single for a year by then and I decided that I couldn't do it anymore. I couldn't continue to live my life based on someone else. I couldn't be unhappy because I was single. I couldn't give that much control over myself to someone else. I needed to take control of my heart and my life. I had plenty of friends, family that loved me, and I realized that I'm actually a pretty cool chick. I have a lot going for me. I really am quite a catch, and as my Mom always said, "Any guy would be lucky to have you, not the other way around." So it was from that point on, the morning after I had spent my last night crying myself to sleep, that I decided to change myself. I recognized that I needed to be happy with myself, by myself, if I was going to expect any guy to be happy with me. I had to pull myself out of the hole I had dug and get my act together. If I wanted to be happy, I told myself, I was going to make myself happy. I mattered more than those guys did, my sanity mattered more than they did, and I was going to start acting like it. So I spent the summer before my senior year in college learning more about myself and learning to love myself. Yes, I wasn't thin by anyone's standards and I wasn't going to win any beauty pagents anytime soon, but I wasn't an ogre either. I was tired of treating myself like crap and thinking I wasn't worthy of happiness. I spent a good 3 months (at least) completely changing my outlook on life and on love. I was determined to make my senior year of college my best year. It was easier said than done, but doing it made all the difference. And then it happened. Two days after I moved into my dorm, I met the love of my life. Despite being a drunken mess that night (the result of a little too much celebrating the beginning of our last college year with friends), I met the guy who would change my life. I guess he found my drunken stupor adorable, because he put his number in my cellphone before he left my room the next morning. He came by the next night and asked if I wanted to watch a movie in his room with him. I know what you think, but we actually only watched a movie. Okay, I'm lying, we made out a little bit, but we actually did watch most of the movie. After that night, we were inseparable. We spent every night together, went for bagels in the mornings before we had afternoon class, and cooked dinner for each other. One month later, as we spent most of the night talking about the past and the future, he told me he loved me and wanted me to officially be his. I felt like I was dreaming. I was never this lucky. I didn't know whether to kiss him, pinch myself, or go throw up from being so scared. Almost a year since that wonderful night, we are still together and are as happy as ever. We are that disgustingly cute couple you see sitting together, laughing and talking while holding hands. Every once in a while we will peck each other on the lips or kiss the other's hand. The honeymoon phase hasn't ended yet, and I don't think it every will. Sure, we've had our share of arguments and disagreements, but we never stayed mad for long and always talked it out. We don't want to play games or cause drama or fight. As cynical as I am, I know he will never cheat on me or purposely hurt me. He doesn't have that in him. He is the kindest man I have ever known. He is smart, funny, and everything else I could have ever wanted. I truly don't have to worry about him finding someone else. I have finally found someone who loves me as much as I love him. He even loves the fact that I have meat on my bones. When I complain about having a "fat day" or feel gross in my skin, he just tells me how beautiful I am to him. I actually believe him because, as horrible as this sounds (sorry, God), his ex-girlfriends were all heavier than I am. He has already picked out my engagement ring and has the proposal planned (he won't tell me any details!), but he wants to wait to get married until we are more financially stable. He is the only person I can imagine spending my life with and having children with. He can't wait to be a father, and I know he will be a wonderful one. I was so scared that I would never find someone, but now I'm afraid to lose him. I guess this fear stems from losing my father when I was a teenager, but I am so scared that something bad will happen. Things seem too good to be true now that I'm afraid the other shoe will drop soon. I pray all the time that God will let me have this happiness for a long time. I want to be one of those couples celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary, still happy and pinching each other's butt as they walk by one another. The only thing I can say is that, no matter what happens, I will look back on my time with him and smile. I had learned to love myself, and it was only after this that I found someone who truly loves me. He completes me and I complete him. I have found my fairy-tale, my happily-ever-after, my Prince Charming. Despite my past, I am looking forward to the future. When it comes to my exes, I have discovered that what they say is true; being happy without them (and in spite of them) is the best, and sweetest, revenge.

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