Chapter 1 - Part 2

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My personal life! That's a different story, one that can hardly be called a success. I used to think I had it all together, completely figured out. Turned out that could not have been further from the truth.

I think back to my first relationship. Stanley was my high school sweetheart. It was four years of pure affection, followed by two more years of unsuccessful attempts to keep us together. We met at the start of freshman year and dated throughout high school. Unfortunately, our relationship did not stand a chance in the real world. We never survived the long distance after he went away to college. Trying to keep it alive for two years eventually proved to be too hard, and we decided to end things peacefully and promised to stay friends, or as close to it as possible. I felt heartbroken nonetheless, thinking I should've done something differently, put in more effort, maybe even followed him to college. He went to an engineering school, and I was aiming for a business career. Now I realize we were just kids, more friends than lovers for sure.

My second and only other relationship was the serious kind. He was older and wiser. He exuded confidence and respect. We met right after I got my bachelor's degree. I was barely twenty-one, while he was thirty-three. My parents approved, and I even suspected they arranged our meeting. He was a successful businessman and marriage material, as my mother put it. I was told to be a good girl and warned not to screw it up.

By the time we met, I'd been single for a year. After a rather busy but lonely year of self-pity and doubt, I was ready to put that chapter of my life behind me. I welcomed the idea of meeting someone new.
I was even pleased to have my parents' approval. They never took Stanley seriously, so I felt like a grown-up next to Matthew. I realized, though not soon enough, the choice was taken away from me and they were making the decisions yet again. They had plans for me and Matthew before I ever met him.

My parents have been planning my life since I was a little girl. I never rebelled, justifying it by telling myself that they loved me and wished me the best. All these years I've been living in denial, thinking if my parents thought so highly of my boyfriend, then he must be a good person.

Little did I know... He was the exact opposite of what I thought. My parents are still in their own state of denial, thinking it was my fault we didn't work out. They assumed I went away to get a better perspective on my life, so I could come back and fix everything.

The truth is, we haven't had a real relationship in years. Come to think of it, I don't think passion was ever there at all. Pragmatism is what ruled, from day one. At first, I tried to get him to do fun and romantic things. In return, he would ruthlessly throw it back in my face, telling me I was being childish. I was hurt at first, but then I would end up blaming myself, as I always tend to do. He was older, so maybe I was being childish after all. I thought that's what being in an adult relationship must be like. My parents were a lot like Matthew, and they've been married for thirty years.

On the outside, he was the proper, polished version of the perfect life partner: caring, attentive, reliable, cultured—a gentleman in all aspects of the word. On the inside, our relationship was empty. At times, it felt as if he was on autopilot around me, saying what needed to be said, being courteous when necessary, but showing no interest in who I was. At first, I didn't realize any of this; I was too young and busy with school and work. I was too excited to be in a relationship, especially with someone so sophisticated. As the time went by, I realized more and more there was something dysfunctional about us.

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