"And for my 20th list, I shall bare my soul!"
  1. I've never liked the idea of a "first love."
    I'm a hopeless romantic but I never wanted a "first love." I wanted an "only love." I thought that love meant, in part, choosing the other person every day. I also thought that people who talked about "first" loves just misidentified their former relationships.
  2. And then I met Him.
    I had boyfriends, but I didn't fall in love for the first time until I was 23. And I fell head over heels for the class clown, the small town guy with a mischievous grin.
  3. I thought being best friends first meant I was protected from heartbreak.
    We were best friends first. True best friends-neither of us made even half a move for a year. We got to know each other really well, we laughed a lot. When we started dating, I thought of our friendship as an insurance policy. We would never hurt each other because we had been friends first.
  4. I was completely myself, more "me" than I ever thought I could be.
    With him, I felt this freedom to be myself, to let my crazy out. I was more in touch with who I was, and who I wanted to be, while I was in the relationship than ever before. And I loved him in the same way-purely, flaws and all, and not only because he was mine.
  5. We were a team, across distance and time.
    We dated for three years. We met in graduate school, and had to do long distance at various points in our relationship. It didn't seem to matter. We talked all the time, we still made fun of everything, we were still "us."
  6. His family was so different, yet so right.
    Our families didn't seem to have much in common at first glance-different races, different parts of the country, and highly varying levels of affection for the outdoors. But his entire family embraced me warmly. I saw exactly where all his good originated.
  7. We talked about the future.
    A couple of months before the end, we sat down and had very "mature" conversation about our individual goals, what we wanted for ourselves and the relationship. We were on the same page, and I was giddy with relief.
  8. I thought we were fighting for our relationship together.
    The first time we broke up, multiple things in his life were spinning out of control. He was overwhelmed, and I was collateral damage. But we never stopped talking, and a couple of months later, decided to try again with a clean slate.
  9. Seven months later, he ended things again.
  10. I didn't see it coming.
    I felt completely blindsided. Unlike the first break up, I didn't sense him pulling away before he ended it. Things were blissful. The day before he was telling me how much he loved me.
  11. He couldn't even tell me why.
    I asked a million questions. Was there someone else? Was it distance? Did he just not want the hassle of an interracial relationship? Was I not satisfying him? He answered no to all. He said he knew he loved me, but he just couldn't see a future with me anymore. There wasn't any precipitating event. Just a sudden, complete switch.
  12. I decided to heal hard.
    I started therapy. I started praying more. I started taking spin class. I've been trying to connect with my city and making new friends and reorienting my world to spin around another sun. I was determined to HEAL, process, and get thru to the other side of the pain.
  13. But the thing remains.
    I'm hoping I was wrong. I want to believe that he was my first, not only, love. Some days I feel so positive, so sure that lightening will strike twice, and I'll find love again. But then the dark days come, and I'm not sure of anything.