All my life I’ve been searching, searching for love, for acceptance. It may sound like such a tragedy, it would be if I was eighty, but I haven’t even finished high school yet. I just wanted someone I could trust, someone to share my heart with.
I’ve come to blame it all on princess movies and fairytale stories and my mother for letting me watch, read, and believe them all. Looking back now they were all so unrealistic. They sung a song together or shared a dance, and the rest was history. They fell madly in love, got married, and lived happily ever after. Even in the tales where the main characters had known each other for a longer amount of time before falling in love, the events of the stories were still too fantastical, completely removed from the way things tend to work in reality.
But as a child I believed them. All I wanted to be was a princess, to meet my Prince Charming, fall in love, and live happily ever after. It wasn’t until I began to study history and United States government that I learned princesses don’t exist here nor do princes from other countries choose to marry normal American girls on a regular basis. We’re not of the right breed, and the chances of even meeting a prince, much less striking his fancy, are pretty slim.
But I still wanted that fairytale romance. That led me to another problem, finding someone who would treat me like a princess. I didn’t actually expect to be pampered and fed grapes all day long in the way that always made me think of Greek goddesses. But I just wanted someone who would love and respect me for who I was.
The search for a prince has never been an easy one, not even in the fairytales, that is unless one just appeared on a doorstep or rescued a golden ball from the well. I wasn’t even sure why I thought my search would be any different. Maybe I expected to meet a toad or two before finding the real prince. Never did I think there were so many imposters out there or that the imposters would seem so much like the real thing. That’s how they tricked me. That’s how he tricked me.
He was clean cut, attractive, but not overly so. He was fairly well-liked by everyone, a well-rounded fellow. The main thing I liked in him was he seemed like he really cared about me. He wasn’t what anyone would call a creep or a scumbag. He had all his teeth, dressed nicely. There was no SLIMEY TOAD stamped across his forehead.
“Come on,” he whispered in my ear. We’d gone to his house because his parents wouldn’t be home until late. We were just kissing in between homework. Then he started feeling around. His hand pressed on my leg. The jeans weren’t quite thick enough to prevent the reaction of my skin to the contact. Sensors triggered a tightening in my stomach, as his other hand reached for my belt buckle.
Realization of what he wanted hit me in a strong wave as if we’d been riding down the road and passed a newly dead skunk. It was that strong and that repulsive. I jumped out of his grasp and was off the bed a second later.
“What’s wrong?” he asked, coming to my side and running his hands lightly along my arms. He nuzzled his face into my neck.
“I, I, I think I should leave now,” I told him, taking a step back. I was starting to see that stamp appear, could make out the SLI.
“Don’t do that, sweetie. You just got here,” he followed me in every step I took.
“I don’t think I’m ready.”
“Aw come on. It’s not so bad as everyone says. I’ll make sure you enjoy every moment of it. I’ve got a condom.”
“I’m just not ready,” I pleaded. “We haven’t been dating that long.”
“Time is nothing when we love each other like we do,” he grabbed my arm and pulled me close before kissing me hard. He was pushing, guiding me back to the bed. I didn’t realize it until my legs hit the mattress.
“I’m not ready,” I pushed him away again.
“But baby, I thought you loved me.”
“I do; I just don’t think we ought to do this right now. I’m not comfortable with it.”
“I should have known you wouldn’t do it. You’re afraid your parents will find out, aren’t you? Everything I’ve done for you and you can’t even do this for me?”
“Ok.” I don’t know exactly why I did it, but I didn’t want to lose him. All I could think of was him finding someone else, some other girl who would have taken the affection that was rightfully mine.
That first time in his room was awful, but he told me the first time was always bad, that it would get better. I believed him; I trusted him. But it didn’t improve. I felt used and dirty, something soap and water couldn’t get rid of, no matter how much I scrubbed. It didn’t feel like love.
What happened to that warm fuzzy feeling, of being treasured and adored that I had read so much about? I didn’t find any of that with him. And I knew what I was doing had to stop. The next time we were alone, I told him no more, and it all ended, everything. He dumped me all together. I loved him, but his love for me was all talk. Once I denied him, his affection ended.
“Can you believe what she did?” Word of what I’d done got out and spread like wildfire. I heard whispers wherever I went. I tried to ignore their accusing stares, ducking my head to watch my feet as I walked the halls of the school. “Who’d want to go out with her now?”
Wasn’t there anyone out there who could love me? Someone who could love me for who I was, not for what I could do for them, not for who they wanted me to be. Someone who would just love me for me. Did my prince exist?
I was losing hope. There was no one out there for me; I was just too unlucky. I was asking too much out of love. Those were few of the many thoughts that ran through my mind. Until I had another thought.
If there was no one who could love me, what was the point of anything? What was the point of living? Why not just end it all?
There would be talk. There always was when something like that happened. They would miss me a little, and some might even feel sorry for what had happened. But they didn’t love me; no one did.
There was a creek behind my house, hidden in the woods. I’d always gone there to think. On the bank, sometimes with my feet in the water, I would sit for hours alone, thinking about whatever problem I was facing and the different ways I could solve it. Only there was no solving this one; there was only one option. It seemed fitting to end the problem by going to the creek.
I had everything I needed in my pockets. There was a short letter to my parents in my back left pocket, just so they’d know, but they were so wrapped up in their own world it would barely phase them. The bottle of pills was in the other. It’s sad how much you can learn of suicide on the internet, the quickest ways, the least painful ways. It wasn’t that hard to come by.
I reached my thinking place; the smooth flat rock sat an inch above the soil, and hung a few inches over the creek bed. I sat down on the sun bleached stone. The afternoon sun cast its rays through the trees down on me and the water ahead of me. The light reflected off the slow current creating a shimmery flow. The foliage surrounding me was a bright green; forest flowers were in full bloom. Birds and squirrels darted in and out of the tall oaks and pines.
It was beautiful. And that’s when I found him, my prince.
Just when I was about to give up hope, he saved me. In the least likely of places, I found him, or he found me. Not at school, not at a party, but there by the creek. He wasn’t who I thought he would be, not who I pictured to be the love I searched for, not who the fairytales said he would be. He was the last person I ever would have guessed. I’ve known him forever, an old friend of the family.
I first met him years ago, during summers spent with my grandma. Although I hadn’t talked to him in a really long time. That didn’t seem to matter to him, or that I had completely abandoned him. I had changed so much since I’d last spoken to him, done things I knew he didn’t agree with, most regrettably the things I’d done for my ex, but that didn’t matter to him either. He just wrapped his arms around me and held me tight, whispering in my ear.
“I love you,” he said. “I always have, and I always will. And there is nothing you could ever do to make me stop loving you.”
“How can this be real? How can you love me?” I asked, looking up into his caring eyes. “I’m no one special; I’m not pretty or popular. I’m not that smart or talented. And I certainly haven’t done anything for you, to earn your love.”
“You are a child of my Father, created by Him. You are beautiful because you are made by Him. I love you for who you are.”
“But how do I know you really love me?” My ex had told me he loved me many times, up until I refused to sleep with him again.
“I gave my life for you,” he told me, and I knew he was telling the truth. “I died for you, so that we could be together. Do you know of anyone else who can say they did that for you?”
In that moment the world fell from existence; nothing else mattered. All that existed were me and my love, this man before me, holding me and wiping my tears. This man they called Jesus. I call him my prince.
The contents of my pockets fell into the creek. I watched as the water slowly soaked into the paper, smearing the letters I’d etched in purple ink. The current caught both items, washing them away, taking with them all the pain and desperation I’d felt only minutes before.
Instead there was peace in my heart, filling every crevice with warmth and comfort. I had found the One, the One who would always love me beyond human measure. It was a love no one else could give, and I knew He would never leave me. He would never threaten to take His love away even if I fall short. Because his love is not based on my actions. His love is free. His love is unconditional.