Monday, February 13, 2012

Ghosts of Boyfriends Past: Casey

I don't like thinking too much about "Casey", but it's good to get it out.

In my sophomore year of college, i was recovering from my first love. I was finally starting to move on, when along came Casey. He was a senior, and had spent the last semester studying at Oxford.

Initially, he was interested in my friend Emily, but after she rejected him he took an interest in me. I had always had a thing for him, despite my gut feeling that he was an asshole. Our relationship progressed slowly; it was April, and he was graduating in May. Plus there was the awkwardness of Emily to deal with. We were all three uncomfortable with the situation, and each of us was jealous of the others for one reason or another. It was messy.

In late April/early May, Casey and i were making out almost every day, though the words "relationship" and "boyfriend/girlfriend" had yet to be spoken, except in jest. He told me that he loved me, and that he wanted to marry me and raise children with me and settle down with me, but he would not call me his girlfriend. I was hopelessly besotted and was certain that everything would work out in time.

After graduation, his plan was to have his parents pay his rent and other expenses while he figured out what he wanted to do with his life. Shockingly, they objected to this plan, and brought him back with them to Texas. I was devastated by the separation, but he assured me that all would be well.

And for a time, it was. We talked constantly on Facebook, AIM, and text. I downloaded Skype and bought a webcam; he promised that he'd get around to it. We talked about his dreams, goals, desires, trying to figure out his calling in life. But as the summer went on, things got more and more strained. I was living on campus and had no friends nearby. He was living at home and likewise alone. We were both slipping into a depression, but while i clung to him as my source of light and comfort, he pushed me away. He wanted to wallow in his misery.

Toward the end of July, he was in a wedding in Massachusetts. He came up for a long weekend, and he got a hotel room. For the first time in my life, i shared a bed with a lover. Yet despite our closeness, we still lacked intimacy. There was a wall between us, and i didn't know how to get rid of it. Things came to a head on his last night. We had had a fight, and i was crying silently in the corner of the bed. I would have left, but it was dark and well after midnight and nearly a mile to walk back to campus. He noticed my trembling, and suddenly his arms were around me and he was whispering in my ear. He apologized for his distance and coldness, and begged my forgiveness. He promised that things would get better soon, that he would snap out of it and figure out his life, that he would move back to New England and we would be together.

That was the night that i almost had sex.

I was nineteen, naked, and saying yes, but Casey couldn't follow through. I later concluded (perhaps falsely; i'm not sure) that it was because he loved me. He told me that night that he knew i wanted to wait, that he didn't want to ruin my future, that he didn't want to ruin our future. So he abstained, and we slept together in only the most literal sense.

Over the next few weeks, our communication grew steadily more sporadic. From August to February, he did not speak to me at all. I wrote him letters almost daily, and saved them in a bundle to send to him one day.

At last, he contacted me again. We started to talk, and i sent him my letters. Our relationship took off to new heights. He had pulled out of his depression and was determined to find a job -- any job -- and save up to move back to me. He would go through Hell to be at my side, my love would sustain him through any trial, and together we would have a wonderful life.

But he couldn't follow through. His depression and self-doubt continued to hound him, and prevented him from supporting me. Understand this: i believed then and still do now that Casey loved me as completely as he was able to. I just don't believe that he was capable of very much love. He couldn't support me in my endeavors if he was not personally interested in them. It wasn't enough to love me. He couldn't ask about my day, he couldn't ask about my writing, he couldn't ask about my friends, my family, or my faith. I eventually realized that he only loved me in relation to himself. He only loved me because i was pretty and smart and talented and i loved him. He could see this wonderful creature who was interested in him and feel better about himself. Beyond that, i had no value to him. He didn't care about any intricacies of my personality and character that were not directly involved with his ego. He just wanted brainy arm candy, and if i had hobbies outside of him, that was fine. But he had no desire to be involved with any parts of my life that didn't intersect with his.

Finally, i ended it. My heart had been so broken and bruised that i had nothing left to give him. He begged for a second chance, but i was reluctant to give it. We continued to talk every day, but i was growing tired of his neediness and his shallow interest in me. Finally, after the whole Theo thing, i knew i had to tell him what i had done. Not because he was my boyfriend and i had been unfaithful, but because he wanted to be my boyfriend and i thought he was entitled to know the truth. I also had a presentiment that he would want nothing further to do with me when he found out what i'd done.

I was right. He told me that he wanted nothing further to do with me, that he never wanted to think about me again, and after one very strange email exchange that September, we never spoke again.

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