green palm tree

Palm Springs

The movie Palm Springs on Hulu was one of my favorite movies that I watched in 2020. If you have access to Hulu, I highly recommend it if you haven’t seen it yet. Don’t worry – I promise to not spoil it for anyone. Similar to Groundhog Day & Happy Death Day, the main characters in Palm Springs are in a time loop living the same day over & over again. Recently re-watching Palm Springs brings to light my karmic cycles & my journey to heal, learn my soul lessons, & ultimately release myself from repeating my toxic past.

Karma

Karma in its simplest form is the spiritual law of cause & effect. The two phrases “What goes around comes around.” & “You reap what you sow.” describe it best. Our karmic cycles occur because everything that you do generates karma, whether good or bad. The Wheel of Fortune is another good example. In Tarot, when the Wheel of Fortune is upright, the wheel is turning in your favor. When the Wheel of Fortune is in reverse, your poor decisions are coming back around to haunt you. Hopefully, sharing my past, toxic cycles that I’ve repeated will help bring your own karmic cycles to light. My punishments for bad karma have stayed pretty consistent throughout my life. They usually have to do with driving or car issues.

I will openly admit that I am not the best driver. Even though I got my driving learner’s permit at 16 years old, I was in no rush to get my Driver’s License. In fact, I renewed my permit three times, & I failed my behind-the-wheel driving test three times. Yes, you read that correctly. It took 4 behind-the-wheel tests to get my Driver’s License. lol Anyway, let’s get into the cycles of my karmic past.

My Karmic Cycles

Karmic Cycle 1

I only dated my 1st boyfriend for 3 months. After one week, I didn’t see a future for us, but I continued to date & use him all Summer. I let him tell me that he loved me, buy me presents, & think that we’d be together forever. In the end, I broke up with him via email, because there was no nice way to keep up my charade.

My Karma

For using him & taking his love & kindness for granted all Summer, I failed my behind-the-wheel driving test 3 times.

Karmic Cycle 2

My 1st boyfriend in college shared an email account with me. The Summer before our breakup, he forgot that we shared access to it. After we broke up, I signed into that email address to confirm cancellations of other joint accounts we shared; only to see a long chain of emails between him & his new girlfriend. They had been hanging out behind my back for months. They were co-workers at the gym he worked at over the Summer. It made me sick to my stomach. Because I flew down to visit & spend quality time with him mid-Summer, while they were clearly already romantically involved.

Even though that should have been triggering enough to make me walk away, the following week I continued to log into the email account to read their long-distance emails to each other. I hated that he decided to never tell me that he had been cheating on me all Summer. In those few weeks after school started again, they added each other on MySpace, & I started lurking her MySpace too. When I couldn’t take it any longer, I confronted her in a MySpace message. I learned that he never told her about me, & that was the final straw that made me walk away & let them have each other for good.

My Karma

For invading his privacy & confronting his new girlfriend, I scratched my front bumper when parking too close to a light post.

Karmic Cycle 3

The next guy I dated had an “ex-girlfriend” who created a fake Facebook to lurk me. I brought the issue up to him, & he handled it quickly. But I put “ex-girlfriend” in quotes because I honestly still don’t know if she was actually his ex. He might have just told me that when he was still in fact her long-distance boyfriend. I hate that I chose to keep dating someone who was clearly disrespecting another woman in his life. Just how I acted with my previous ex & his new girlfriend, she was obsessed with finding out more about me.

My Karma

For continuing to date a boy who was sneaky & disrespectful, my car battery died three times that semester.

Karmic Cycle 4

I dated the previous guy’s close friend soon afterward. I didn’t think much of it since neither of them seemed to care. But in an early conversation, he confessed that his female best friend on campus looks exactly like his ex. He even introduced me to her, & I immediately knew that she was in love with him. She had a boyfriend of her own back home though. Instead of paying attention to the red flags, I continued to date him, thinking I could help him heal his heart. I thought that he’ll eventually be so thankful that he’d want to be with me over other options.

My Karma

For dating someone who needed to heal, my best friend crashed her car into mine, as I was rushing to leave a house party to hook up with him. We never hooked up that night or ever again.

Karmic Cycle 5

The next guy I dated on & off during my senior year of college. We became official only a week before I graduated. Because he thought he could trust me, he shared the primary password that he used for all of his accounts. But one day, he left his laptop at my house as he rushed off to class. I am so embarrassed to say that I betrayed his trust. Regretfully, I logged into his laptop & ended up reading his entire AIM history with his ex-girlfriend. I also logged into his Facebook, & read a conversation with his Dad about wanting to break up with me.

The universe allowed me to see these things so that I could walk away with my dignity intact. Invading my boyfriend’s privacy was terrible on my part. He wasn’t respecting me or our relationship by using me to make his ex jealous & want to get back together. I do not recommend that anyone lurk, hack, or betray your partner’s trust the way I did to my boyfriend.

He was the last person that I ever did this to. I learned that if you go looking for the bad in someone, you’ll probably end up finding it. What he told me was him wanting to visit me to “make up” for our horrible Valentine’s Day weekend together was actually him wanting to break up with me in person. Even after waking up late, having his back tires blow out, & having to have his car towed over 90 miles, he was determined to break my heart. That’s why after we broke up & I found out that he was already pursuing someone from his dance crew, I deleted all of his friends from Facebook. I confronted his new love interest via Facebook message too.

My Karma

For invading his privacy, deleting his friends, & confronting his new girlfriend, I had to have my timing belt replaced, all four of my tires replaced, & my struts replaced. It was a ridiculous amount of money that I was not prepared to spend.

Karmic Cycle 6

I used my next boyfriend to get over my previous ex & also make him jealous because my new man was taller, more handsome, & much more fit. This was the boyfriend that quickly ended up becoming obsessed with me. Instead of driving us safely, he was too busy staring at me, trying to kiss my hand, & asking me if I was ok every few minutes. He regularly ran red lights & stop signs, because he needed to “take in my beauty” when all I wanted was for him to watch the road. The worst of it was a car accident that hit my passenger side door, because of his negligence. He was in the military, so he was deployed soon after the accident. While I regret letting our relationship drag on, I didn’t want to break up with him while he was miserable on a ship.

My Karma

For using him, my car ended up getting into a hit & run while it was parked in the street in front of my home.

Karmic Cycle 7

This next guy I didn’t even really date. lol My best friend tried to set me up with her co-worker, & he was cute so I figured why not. After our 1st date, he apparently got the vibe that I just wanted to be friends. But instead of walking away, I desperately tried to change his mind. We went to see a movie together that ended up being super awkward because I kept trying to create chemistry by sitting close to him, putting my head on his shoulder, placing my hand close to his so that he’d want to hold it, etc.

In the end, it was so obvious that there was zero chemistry between us. I then found out that he liked & started dating his co-worker, which my best friend neglected to tell me about, while I was still throwing myself at him. Even knowing that we had no spark, I was in denial & embarrassingly meddled between him & his new girlfriend for months.

My Karma

For trying to force chemistry & meddling, I was rear-ended by another car that ultimately caused a four-car pile-up.

Karmic Cycle 8

This was the return of my ex-boyfriend from Karmic Cycle Number 5. While he apologized for breaking up with me to date someone else, I never admitted that I invaded his privacy, deleted his Facebook friends, or confronted his girlfriend. During these on & off again years, he was talking to several other girls, ghosted me, & reappeared only to be dating his co-worker like nothing was wrong.

My Karma

For never apologizing & telling the truth as well as not walking away when I was being treated as an option, my car was broken into & I completely lost my car keys.

Karmic Cycle 9

The next guy I dated repeated so many of the previous red flags from other karmic cycles. He had an ex who was stalking me. There were also a ton of other options that I would allow to come & go while we were dating. He even fell in love with an engaged woman, who he stayed in contact with after their affair ended. She also even continued to text him after having her husband’s baby. Then, he ultimately got a girlfriend in a different state, even after hooking up with me only one week prior.

My Karma

For ignoring all the red flags from the universe begging me to recognize that he was not my person, my car got towed, & I got 2 nails in one of my back tires. I also had a brand new tire blow out on me because I was emotional & distracted making a left turn too close to the center median. I messed up my front bumper on a pole because I was distracted when reversing out of a parking spot. And lastly, I had an internal brake light error in my car that took over a month to fix.

The dealership didn’t have any loaner vehicles nor did they offer to pay for a rental. I was carless for over a month, but it felt like the entire Summer. Despite my own brother working at the car dealership, zero progress was ever made. No matter how many times they took apart & put my car back together, the brake light just wouldn’t turn off.

Karmic Cycle 10

This next guy I didn’t date either. I met him on a hike with a Social Club that I joined in 2019. We quickly became buddies & started scheduling & coordinating events to see each other regularly. That Summer, I bought a new BMW 330i, & I decided to adopt a pug puppy. He had a pug in the past that he ended up giving away because he traveled too much. He offered to take care of my pug whenever I’d go out of town because he knew that I traveled quite often too. Our conversations suddenly revolved around this idea of a “joint pug custody”.

After we FaceTimed & chose a pug, I suddenly felt like we were going way too fast & our friendship was super odd. I barely knew him enough to want to share a dog with him. To be cautious, I proposed that we hang out outside of our Social Club to which he immediately accused me of using my BMW & my pug to seduce him & make him want to date me. I was so shocked. I denied his accusation & told him that if that’s the type of person he thinks I am, we don’t even need to be friends. As an olive branch, I did let him watch my pug once, but our friendship completely dissipated over time.

My Karma

For ignoring the red flags, the window of my BMW got smashed the day after I bought it. I take it now as a sign from the universe that this guy never had good intentions towards me.

Karmic Cycle 11

I unexpectedly met my next man a few weeks later on a Labor Day camping trip. I only planned to go camping, because the guy from my previous karmic cycle convinced me & my sister to sign up. While I love hiking & spending time in nature, I’m not super outdoorsy. Especially when it comes to freezing overnight in a tent, it’s not my idea of fun. I was dreading seeing him again, but it was too late to cancel. In the end, meeting my next man that weekend made enduring the cold shoulder & snarky comments from my karmic number 10 worth it.

The Good

After we met, I took my time to get to know my new man & embraced creating a solid foundation as friends. We didn’t have a “define the relationship” conversation until three months after we were seeing each other at least once a week. While I was afraid & unsure, I took a leap of faith because his communication & vibes made it easy for me to trust him. We are very honest about what we think about each other & more importantly how we feel about each other. We promised to continue to be honest & strive to do right by one another.

For the majority of our relationship, it was effortlessly magical. We had so many intimate moments together talking about anything & everything. We were constantly laughing, learning & teaching each other new things, sharing our favorite movies & TV shows, trying out new recipes, sending each other funny memes & videos, & creating our own inside jokes. I felt comfortable & safe in his presence, so it was so easy for me to give him his space & respect his privacy. He also spent a lot of quality time with my friends & family. And during my time of the month, he’s understanding & never makes me feel guilty about preferring to be alone while hormonal & moody.

The Bad

Unlike my past karmic cycles, other women never phase me. But the night of his birthday that I was emotionally triggered by two Instagram Stories & a Venmo payment. That night, I had a full-blown panic attack that night because he still had my heart. I picked out the perfect birthday present for him, after a full week of researching online after a deep conversation we had tanning by my rooftop pool. I bought him local hone, for his allergies when I went apple picking with my friends a few days prior. And the night before his birthday, we even texted about his birthday celebration plans. I wished him a happy birthday as soon as I woke up, & I was so excited that he loved his present when it arrived that afternoon.

As I replay the days prior, I was emotionally triggered because I loved him more in our 13 months together than I’ve loved anyone else. Even though I wanted to let my emotions pass & talk to him about it directly, my friend who recently had a bad breakup manipulated me in my emotional state into breaking up with him the next morning. She also encouraged & enabled my ultimate relapse into my previous toxic behaviors of confronting & lurking other women in the days that followed. In the end, I betrayed myself by not listening to my own heart & instincts. I don’t blame anyone else for my mistakes. Even though I’ve forgiven myself for what happened, I still regret my actions that night & in the weeks that followed.

My Karma

While my heart wishes that I ran down the street to fight for him, I know that I love him too much to be selfish. Instead, I continue to push aside my feelings. Mistakes were made because I listened to the opinions of others instead of following my heart. I hate that I ended things without having an honest, open conversation.

Despite thinking about reaching out now, I love him too much to settle with a place in his life as just a friend. For never telling him that I loved him, lurking, confronting other women, & letting him walk away, I got a nail in one of my back tires the morning I was supposed to drive him to the airport. I drove his car to the airport that morning instead, but we discovered that I somehow also got a nail in one of his back tires, when he returned. The battery in my car key also died, which I didn’t even realize was possible.

Ending my Karmic Cycles

I sincerely apologize for my mistakes. But I also forgive myself, & I’m moving on. I’m not proud of my past karmic cycles. But I’m grateful for the soul lessons that I desperately need to learn. I can finally recognize my toxic behaviors & stop myself before I cross a line. I’ve learned too much to make the same immature mistakes in a future relationship.

While I recommend evaluating your own karmic cycles, I hope you’re also able to learn from mine. Don’t be afraid to admit & reflect on your past mistakes. Because it’s the only way to truly change for the better & heal. Do your best to be mindful of your own patterns, stay aware of your toxic behaviors, & release any negative energy. Trust your own instincts & follow your heart. Don’t let the opinions of others cloud your judgment. Like in Palm Springs, it takes courage & a leap of faith to break through your patterns to stop repeating your karmic cycles.

XO Denise

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THEJOYWITHIN

To All the Boys I Thought I Loved Before

I love the To All the Boys movie series on Netflix. While I wish I actually read the books instead of just watching the movies, I don’t have much time to read young adult fiction novels nowadays. lol I love Lara Jean & her close, dynamic relationship with her sisters though. Every year for the past couple of years, I’ve had a Sister pre-Valentine’s Day celebration where we have a romantic-comedy movie marathon with a heart-shaped pepperoni & mushroom pizza, paired with brut rosé. In celebration of the newest release of the 3rd movie, To All The Boys: Always & Forever, & with Valentine’s Day only a couple of days away, I decided to write this open letter to all the boys I “thought” I loved before. Fair warning, despite my outward demure & innocent demeanor, my love life has never been perfect. I’ve made a lot of mistakes in the past, & I’m using this letter to finally confess & apologize. I hope that my letter comes across as raw & vulnerable, yet still heartfelt.

Number 1: Thank you for accompanying me to prom, being my 1st kiss & my 1st boyfriend, & I’m so sorry for breaking your heart.

I knew you liked me immediately from the way you’d stare at me in silence as I walked into Biology class to take a seat. You sat behind me but didn’t say anything to me until a few months before the school year was over. I could tell that you were excited when our teacher decided to change seating arrangements so that we sat at the same table. Thanks for accompanying me to my Senior prom. I probably would have skipped it all together if I didn’t get a date, but it actually turned out to be a really fun night.

I’ll finally confess how taken aback & scared I was when you asked me to be your girlfriend after we had only been talking for a week. Then, you told me “I love you” only a week after that. I really wasn’t ready for a relationship, & I wasn’t ready for any of the intimate things that you wanted from me. I was just too scared to hurt your feelings.

I’m really sorry for wasting your time that Summer. I knew you got a job just so you could afford to take me out on dates & buy me gifts. The reality was I was only 18, & I just didn’t see a future for us. I didn’t want to leave for college still dating my boyfriend from high school.

When you finally confessed that you failed your classes & needed to repeat your Junior year, it was the last straw for me. I already graduated & was so ready & excited to move away for college for the next 4 years. I wish I hadn’t been such a coward & broke up with you in person. You deserved more than the email I sent you. You wanted to marry me & asked if you should wait for me, & I said no. I’m so sorry that my honesty broke your heart. I hope you found someone who was equally obsessed with you to love you in all the ways I knew I could never have grown to.

Number 2: Thank you for showing me what love is not, & I’m sorry for emotionally cheating on you with my TA.

I knew you wanted me immediately, but I soon found out that your intentions were always only to feed your own ego. You knew that every guy in the dorm wanted me, so you just wanted to be able to say that you won out of all the competition. From the way you looked at me when I’d walk by to the way you’d direct your attention & questions to me when we were in a group, I guess I was just intrigued by your persistence.

We started dating only a week after meeting. In retrospect, I should have taken way more time to get to know you to ensure that we were even compatible. I had no idea who you were, & what I slowly learned about you over time didn’t make our connection any stronger.

Thank you for respecting that I was still a virgin & wanted to save myself for marriage, but the honest truth is that I was never sexually attracted to you. I’m sorry for all the times I insulted you, got frustrated with you on road trips, & for that day I put hands on you, because I reached my breaking point. Physical & mental abuse is inexcusable, & I hope you found it in your heart to forgive me.

I wish that you had been honest & upfront about your issue with the distance between us, because you lived in SoCal & I lived in the Bay Area. You should have told me that you wanted to break up with me EVERY SINGLE TIME you went home to your family for the holidays & Summer. It would have saved us both a lot of trouble & heartache.

While you admired my intelligence, I hated seeing you cry & resent me every time I’d get better grades on my homework, exams, & classes overall. I didn’t want to pretend to be someone that I wasn’t, & that’s probably why I fell for my TA. I could never be the type of girl who would dumb myself down to make a man feel better about his own intelligence. I knew that I wanted someone on my level who could carry a deep conversation. I’m still so sorry for emotionally cheating on you with him & for playing intramural basketball with him the following year, just to spite you after you cheated.

While I don’t blame you for actually cheating on me the Summer after that, it just seemed so cliché that you chose the blond Canadian lifeguard at the gym you were working at of all people to cheat with. I knew that having to see her visit you on campus every couple of weeks was my karma. After you got married & divorced shortly after, I convinced myself that she was only in a relationship with you to get a Green Card. I do forgive you for cheating on me. We had two long, hard years of lessons to learn from each other. I hope that you have a happy & fulfilling life with your new wife & kids now.

Number 3: Thank you for having breakfast with me after class, & I’m sorry for using you to get over Number 2 & Number 8 over a decade later.

From my understanding, you were using me to get over your exes both times too. Your ex from high school even made fake Facebook accounts to lurk me, which I told you about & you handled. We were honestly just two hurt souls trying to find comfort in each other, while neither one of us knew we would ever go the distance. The way you never wanted to be tagged on anything with me on social media was a huge clue that it was time for me to walk away. Not to mention that you slept with our mutual friend in the bathroom during the same party we were all attending. I still can’t believe you flew from LA to the Bay just to see me. Even though the spark died for me a decade ago, I still had fun drinking mimosas & catching up with you. I’m proud of how much you’ve grown over the years. I hope that you finally healed your heart & found someone you love who truly loves you in return.

Number 4: Thank you for jailbreaking my iPhone & the late nights we’d spend playing Guitar Hero. I’m sorry for not walking away, when I knew you weren’t ready for a relationship & were juggling too many options.

After dancing together at the toga party, I tried to keep my distance from you. You were good friends with Number 3, & while I successfully did not go back to your dorm with you that first night. I still succumbed to my own loneliness a few weeks later. We both knew we were never meant to be together. I could tell you weren’t over your ex & had a lot of other options, but I still prayed in hopes of getting you to choose me. And for that I’m truly sorry. That last time when were supposed to hook up, I took my friend crashing her car into mine as a sign from the Universe that it was time to finally stop & let you go. I hope you healed from the hurt your ex caused you. You deserve the free will to choose who you want to love & be with. You were a great guy, just not the right guy for me.

Number 5: Thank you for introducing me to your family, & sorry for holding on to the illusion of the happy family we could have created together for way too long.

You were the perfect man that I always imagined I’d marry in my head. I’m sorry for blaming you for not living up to my expectations & resenting you for not wanting me forever the way I wanted you. Nothing was your fault. You chose me for a time & trusted me, but you knew that we couldn’t go the distance. After our terrible Valentine’s Day weekend, I knew you were breaking up with me that day, which is why I didn’t call you to wake you up that morning or confirm when you were coming to see me. When both of your back tires blew out on your way to break up with me, I knew that it was your karma for not being honest with me sooner.

I knew that you still loved your ex, & I was jealous that you were still such close friends with her. While I appreciate that you apologized for breaking up with me so that you didn’t have to feel guilty about dating someone else soon after, I wasn’t honest with you regarding my actions. I never told you that you were right. I did delete all of your friends off of Facebook that day. It wasn’t a Facebook glitch. I chose to lie to your face with no remorse & took pride in my pettiness.

I knew how much joy you took in collecting your ex girlfriends, so I did what I did knowing that if you found out the truth, you would never collect me too. I was young, angry, upset, & vengeful. Now in hindsight, I have no idea what I thought deleting all of your friends would really accomplish besides hurting your ego. Regardless, I’m so sorry for doing that to you, because of my own insecurities & holding onto a dead end relationship. I’m sorry for all the on again off again years that followed as well. I hope you & your current girlfriend are happy & build a happy life together.

Number 6: Thank you for teaching me that I don’t need to be in a relationship to be happy, & I’m sorry for leading you on then making you out to be the bad guy.

I’m sorry for using you to get over Number 5. I thought you were generally attractive, but you weren’t able to hold a conversation or mentally stimulate me ever, which is why I was avoiding being vulnerable & intimate with you. Eventually it made my skin crawl when you’d touch me, which is why I always made sure to keep my distance from you whether it was in a public or private setting.

I just liked that you were in the military & never around, because when we were together, I was so bored. My heart hadn’t healed, nor was my heart even in the new relationship we were trying to build. I knew that you could see yourself marrying me, but going through with that would truly have been my worst nightmare.

When I found out that you got a massage with a happy ending the week before you were supposed to come home to see me, I was honestly relieved. I didn’t want to be seen as a bitch who dumped her boyfriend because I wasn’t attracted to him anymore & thought he wasn’t smart enough for me. I’m so sorry that I wasn’t upfront & honest with you about how I felt. I forgive you for getting the massage, & I’m so sorry for breaking your heart. You, your wife, & your son seem to have built a very happy life together, & I wish you all the best.

Number 7: Thank you for teaching me to respect myself, & I’m sorry for not leaving sooner & meddling in your love life for way too long.

We were only supposed to have been friends. I knew immediately that you were still hung up on your ex, & even though you knew she couldn’t be who you wanted her to be, you still had hope that you could get back together & work on your vulnerability. I did truly forgive her for cat-fishing as me, & I’m glad that she seems to have found her happiness with someone else.

After that ex, I knew when you started dating the real estate agent who had a fiancé that you were just more & more bad news waiting to happen. I knew you were planning an exit strategy when you started making new “friends”, & I knew that you must have asked one of them to be your girlfriend before you told me about it that night.

I’ll finally confess that it was me who DMed your new girlfriend from that fake Instagram account. While I knew that I didn’t want you, I was so jealous that you were closer to getting your happy ending than I’d ever be. I had become a monster, who I was ashamed of, & I’m so sorry for my actions. I was so relieved that she was able to forgive you, & I knew that seeing her come visit you in Oakland & you visiting her in Hawaii all over social media was my karma.

I was glad when I finally had the strength to walk away from you, & I was even happier when you finally moved away to Hawaii. I learned & grew so much as a person, because of what you put me through. I’m sorry for using you as a shoulder to cry on when I didn’t know where my next relationship was going.

I know you’re still trying to heal from your last relationship & deciding what you want. You have so much potential. Keep growing, & please stop settling for ABGs. You deserve someone who is kind & still has a brain. Stop chasing girls who just look good & are only after you for money & all the things you can buy for them.

Number 8: Thank you for teaching me how to unconditionally love someone, & I’m sorry for desperately holding onto you, when I knew in the back of my mind that you never wanted be mine.

I couldn’t write this blog post without including you. Though it doesn’t even apply to you, because I don’t “think” I loved you. You’re actually the only one who I knew that I loved. I’m so sorry that it took us breaking up for me to admit that. I didn’t want to be the first person to say “I love you”. Because of the conversation we had before becoming exclusive, I convinced myself that saying those three words & eight letters would be my complete ruin.

Our relationship was so incredibly intense & scary. Without even trying, you always brought out the best in me. Everything that I lack as a person, you inspired me to improve & work on every single day. You admired & appreciated my intelligence. You supported my hopes & dreams. You made me feel strong & perfect. I still remember when you pointed out that billboard by the Oakland Coliseum to me as I drove us back home after you met my parents. If you only knew what I see in the mirror… I still can’t believe how beautiful I am in your eyes.

Our connection was unparalleled mentally, physically, & spiritually. No one has ever loved me in the way that you did. It was amazing how comfortable & safe I always felt in your presence. There were so many nights when I would lay there in your arms, breathless, heart-pounding, & thinking “I love you” over & over again until I fell asleep.

Did you know that I wasn’t even supposed to go on the camping trip that we met at? If you only knew how much I hate sleeping in a tent & freezing my ass off… lol But I know now that choosing to still go camping & us finally meeting at dinner was fate. I don’t believe in love at first sight, nor have I ever thought anyone was even remotely attractive immediately upon meeting them. But you had me so enamored that I needed to discreetly text my sister, begging her to switch seats with me. But she refused to take one for the team & I was stuck sitting next to the Raiders guy. lol

I still think about our conversations after dinner walking back to the campsite, laughing about Echo & “Samantha” while gazing up at the stars, sitting together in the trunk of your car & letting you teach me about CBD & THC, & pointing out the boulders walking down & back to the lake. That weekend was amazing. I just wish you had stayed through Monday.

I know that you’re still trying to hide your darkness from me. I knew that you were entertaining a lot of other women when we met & I came into your life. I knew you weren’t ready to give up your single life just yet, so when you didn’t call or text me after I gave you my number in the weeks after camping, I took it as a rejection. Your hesitation about us was the only reason I booked that trip to Hawaii to visit Number 7.

After you ignored my first Facebook message, I decided to try one last time & asked you to text me, sliding into your Instagram DMs. lol I was so happy to finally have your number, & we texted back & forth all day. We had two amazing dates that first week, then you ghosted on me after you got back home from your trip. Then a full month went by & despite my better judgment, I still wanted to see you at the Halloween party. Dancing with you all night was so much fun, & when you told me the next day that you didn’t even consider yourself a dancer, I appreciated that you danced all night just to be near me. I also respected that I took you home, & you didn’t try to take advantage of me while I was drunk & high.

After our first break-up in December 2019, I could tell that you were trying to cut out all of your other options, which I appreciated & was why I stayed with you for as long as I did. I’m still so sorry for what happened in November. It wasn’t right of me to try & control your free will, nor is it ok ever ok to be a “messenger” to ensure that other parties are aware of a situation. As an Economics major, I assumed that people deserve to have equal knowledge to make informed decisions. But the bottom line is real life is not Game Theory & not all choices in life are quantifiable, because people deserve to make their own choices.

Despite the messiness in the wake of our breakup, know that I will always look back fondly on our relationship. You taught me what true unconditional love feels like. While our communication still needed work, I will forever compare my new love interests & suitors to the love I received from you. As scared as I am knowing that no man may ever be able to measure up to the love that you tried to consistently give me & what you taught me about myself, I’m still so grateful to have met you.

I haven’t gotten in touch with my spirituality in over a decade, & I thought I stopped believing. But I still see signs, synchronicities, & reminders of the love we shared all day, every day, which renewed my faith because you were honestly a gift & a blessing from the universe. While I only had you in my life for 13 months, I knew that I loved you for 10 of those months. I still thank God every day for bringing you into my life, & I will continue to pray for you, because I truly want you to be happy, even if you’re happier without me.

I’ve finally learned my lessons in love. I respect myself enough to walk away from anyone who isn’t willing to give me what I want, knowing that I deserve to be the one & only woman in a man’s life. I’m not going to repeat my past toxic cycles any longer. To all my exes that I hurt, I’m so sorry from the bottom of my heart. To my exes that have hurt me, I forgave you a long time ago & I wish you only the best.

Writing this open letter gave me a glimpse into how Hamilton must have felt writing the Reynolds Pamphlet that ruined his political career. As I’ve said before, my love life has never been perfect, & I am only human. Love isn’t all flowers, champagne, & chocolates. Love is hard work.

If you’ve been unlucky in love, I encourage you to examine your own past loves & relationships. Don’t hide your past away – choose to learn from it. That way, when true love finds you, you won’t mess it up the same way I did with Number 8.

I hope you all have a Happy Valentine’s Day! Even if you’re not able to spend it with someone you love, I hope you spend the day loving yourself.

XO Denise