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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

CADY: Seventeen is an inconvenient time to be in love

This story is a part of a series called “Opinions from the Heart” where columnists write personal narratives.

I was 17, and my head was constantly spinning. When you live that way, all you ever want is to find someone who makes it stop. You want to find the person who acts as your bridge over running water — the tunnel underneath rain beating down. But, much like the sentiment that “even salt sometimes looks like sugar,” I thought I found a cure, but I actually found poison. 

As I sat eagerly in my psychology class, all I really hoped for was to get a good grade on the final exam. I mostly kept my head down in high school. I had friends, but I didn’t usually seek people out. Instead, I let them come to me. This was maybe a virtue, but more likely a line of defense. Usually, I felt that if I sought something out, I risked running into something that wasn’t good for me.

Little did I know that something would hit me head-on, like a car crash you see coming but can’t stop. 

The boy sitting just a few rows behind me caught my eye the first time I walked into class, but I knew that I would never do anything about it. I believed that nothing would ever happen. Until it did. 

It was simple, really. A request to go and study one snowy night after school. It was innocent and it was youthful. 

Study dates turned into Sundays spent laughing over television shows in my basement which turned into summers where we were never much more than an arm’s length apart. More than that, liking to be around somebody turned into love. And being in love turned into falling head first out of it, not really because I wanted to, but because I wasn’t given any choice in the matter.

What I mistook for love, was really tolerance that slowly became betrayal that then became mayhem. 

For three years of my life, though, I believed it to be love. I believed it to be love because all I had ever really known was chaos. I thought that love was supposed to be tumultuous, and don’t we all kind of have that feeling? That’s what all of the books and movies teach us. The concept is that if it’s not dizzying then it’s not worth it. 

I could harp on what characterized the chaos, I could go on and on about the years of emotional abuse, the cheating, the gaslighting, the high highs and the low lows. Because there was all of that. But, I don’t want to tell you about that. I want to tell you about how I got there. 

I was 17. I had spent the sixteen previous years just dreaming of somebody loving me at all. I think this was a lot because I had conditioned myself to believe that I was difficult to love, and, therefore, I survived on crumbs. I needed affection like I needed air to breathe. And in between the heartache, I had it. 

All I survived off of were those moments, those glances, the false promises, the times when I had enough material to work with in order to convince myself that I was loved by this person not just possessed.

I think a common misconception held by many is that people stay in bad relationships because they’re weak or they don’t respect themselves. There were many reasons I stayed in mine. I was begged to, I was threatened if I didn’t and I never saw a way out. But, more than that, I was just in love. I just wanted to believe that someone could be half as in love with me as I was with them. For three years, I survived off of that blind hope.

When it all came crashing down, I was forced to face the truth. That clarity, that acknowledgment of the reality that had existed all along, was what saved me. I was in pain, but I was no longer pretending. I was no longer muffling cries in my bedroom with my pillow. I wasn’t falling asleep on the bathroom floor, too weak and too miserable to peel myself off of it. 

I was in pain, but I was in the light of truth. And if I have any happy ending, it is that freeing myself finally allowed me to realize I was always lovable. I was sugar trying to live alongside salt, and some things just don’t mix.

This story was written by Grace Cady. She can be reached at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Grace Cady
Grace Cady, Managing Editor of the Marquette Journal
Grace Cady is a senior at Marquette University from Delafield, Wisconsin. She is majoring in journalism and political science. This year she will be the managing editor of the Journal. Outside of the Wire, Grace likes to read, write creatively, watch movies and spend time with friends & family. Prior to this year, she served as the executive opinions editor at the Wire and has held intern positions at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Milwaukee Magazine and the National Federation of Federal Employees in Washington, D.C. Additionally, Grace is part of the O'Brien Investigative Fellowship program this year alongside Julia Abuzzahab.

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