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What I Learned From Simply Being "Here." In 2016

I spent a lot of time being "here" for others. 2017 was the year I decided to be there for myself.

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By: Melissa Morrison

“Here.”

iMessage: 1:13am.

The amount of times I sent that text or received that text is too numerous to be proud of. “Here” didn’t just mean a location or a point of reference. “Here” became what defined my entire year in 2016. This four-letter word meant he was here. I was here. Let me in. But only for the moment. 2016 was the year I said screw the world. I was fresh out of a broken engagement with a chip on my shoulder so deep that no amount of therapy ‘cement’ could fill it. Staring down the face of what was supposed to be my wedding that June, “here” became the word that I used to deny my pain and accept my new way of life. “Here” with a period left no room for anything more to be said because nothing more needed to be said. It meant one thing and one thing only.

I joined online dating about a month after my engagement failed. I dated the same man for almost four years. He was my best friend in college, my boyfriend of nearly 2 years, my fiancé for nearly 2 more years, and quickly after this my ex. Our break up came to fruition during a confessing of lies regarding his sexuality, his alcoholism, and his lifestyle much of which was hidden from me. Not wanting to be alone I searched for love online. But I didn’t find love. I found “here.”

My first one night stand and my first relations with a foreign man was New Year’s Eve. After months of talking and being part of games in the online dating world, I decided to finally go for it. Except I didn’t know “it” would be “here.” In my mind, it was the perfect scenario as it provided two things I had always been forbidden. Being raised a practicing Catholic in small town Maine, a straight A student, who was (without needing to be mentioned) a perfectionist, the idea of having casual relations with anyone was never in the question let alone someone from a different culture. This made it all the more appealing.

We met up outside a Lord and Taylor. I, in my red, peplum pea coat, and he in his fur lined, hooded winter jacket. We saw ice sculptures, grabbed a drink (or 3), and before I knew it were on the Blue Line back to his place. Midnight hit and so did my orgasm. It was the easiest decision I had ever made. The deeper he went, the deeper my pain was pushed back. What recent break up? Sherlock Holmes couldn’t uncover how deep I repressed those memories.

“Here” became our word. Except it wasn’t his and my word. It became my word with every guy I met that year. After three months of back and forth exchanges of “here” with this first man, we parted ways and this word became the glue to my next fling. Then my next fling. And so on and so forth. “Here” became the clue that the door needed to be opened, the clothes needed to come off, and then it was time to leave.

I swore after the Turkish man, the two Greek men, the three Indian men, the [insert opposite culture here] man, that I would never use the phrase “here” again. Each time I was left feeling just as empty as I started and each time I went back to that word. It was as if every meaningful text I could have sent somehow autocorrected to that four-letter word. It didn’t matter what I had to say. We stuck to logistics, priorities, intentions… It couldn’t be any simpler if we just stuck to “here.”

“Here” took various forms over this year. During the summer, I dated an Indian man. He was a 6 ft 4, tall, dark, and handsome world traveler. He used his career as an emergency room cardiac surgeon to impress me all the way from my bed to his. Except “here” took an ironic form with him as he was never here. Late night shifts in the ER, ignored calls, rescheduled dinner plans were all things I became accustomed to. He was only “here” when he needed me to be here. Over the course of four months I made sure I was “here” more than he was “here” because I thought that’s what I deserved. It’s what I felt like I needed. When this ended in July I vowed never to use “here” again.

Wrong. August rolled around and as I was working my way to deleting my online world as well as “here” from my dictionary, I met a Persian man. “Here” finally started being used in its truest form. At first “here” became an escape from obligation. Rules were set in the beginning that it was not to turn into anything. Neither of us wanted that, we wanted “here.” We didn’t want the mess, the drama, or the seriousness. Past experiences showed us that this was undesirable. So “here” was “here.”

As the months rolled by, “here” became I’m here for you, whenever, however, because I care. “Here” became the relief word. When I saw “here” pop up on my phone, it meant that the rest of the night would be amazing. It meant sex was going to mean something. It meant I was going to be held at night before bed. It meant I was going to be comforted, soothed, cared for. What break up? He was here. It didn’t matter. When the Persian came over, it meant I still had that one person anyone would want to have during the day to text the most random things to. “Oh my word, there was a bug on the wall in class and all I could think of was that one time…” He became the receiver of not just all texts, but all of me.

The last time I read “here” was when he came over to break the news to me that he was no longer “here” for me, as he was for the last 5 months, but he needed to be “here” for someone else. His “here” no longer belonged to me. He was, of course, free to be “here” for anyone else which was made aware to me while we discussed the lack of commitment actually made to one another. “Here” at that point meant no one is here. It’s just me. I lose.

That’s when I decided it was time for me to be “here” for me. I am not one for New Year’s resolutions. I still haven’t made one for this year but I committed to being “here” for myself. My health (both physically and mentally) needed relief from “here.” My commitment to myself signified that I finally cared about the hurt I had gone through from the very beginning to the very end of 2016. When I look back on the past year, I don’t think proud… I think disrespect. Not for the men who did me wrong or vice versa, but for the lack of respect I showed myself. Entering into relations with people and never receiving commitment for whatever reason made me feel as though I didn’t deserve it. But where was my commitment to myself?

I write this story as a reminder that for me, it’s better to be alone than it is to be “here.” It’s better to care for myself than it is to be “here.” It is better to wait for the right thing to come along (even if it means mustering up the most immense amounts of patience) rather than be “here.” To anyone who wants to be “here.” I say more power to you! If you find that it’s what makes you happy, free, alive, etc. then please, you do you. My “here” has come to an end. I look forward to be “there.” There for myself, there for my health, there for my very promising future.

“Here” is my story. I hope you enjoyed.

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