Submitted Date 03/15/2019

His eyes will haunt me forever. No, he will haunt me forever. He crossed my path in the early 2000s and to this day, twenty years later, his impact on my life still rings true. He was the manager at the grocery store where I worked in the deli. He was the first man I had ever come across that treated me like a person and like I had a brain in my head. My relationship with my Dad has always been tumultuous; he never thought I was very brilliant or amount to anything. Being treated like a human by a man was very foreign to me. He was kind, always willing to help, and looked at me when he spoke to me. Instead of looking through me. He never made me feel incompetent or dumb. It didn't help that he had a sweet personality and was immensely talented to go with those beautiful green eyes. He had a heart of gold and was rarely in a bad mood. In his off time, he would play music in the area. He would often bring in his guitar and play for us. He was always singing. I was smitten.

Although I knew I could never be with this guy, I knew that someday I wanted to find someone like him. There were too many differences between us ever to make it work. He was of a different religion, was ten years older than me at the time and had experienced a lot more life than I had. There was also the fact that he had a girlfriend. Skinny, beautiful, without a hair out of place or a makeup smudge. Pure perfection. I could never compete with that. Eventually, he got transferred to a new store a few towns over.

At the time I was seeing someone I had met at college. Jack was very needy and co-dependent; he had a lot of issues from his past and was living in a group home for troubled youth. He didn't have family around, so I was pretty much it. In the year and three months we were together he cheated on me, lied to me, and took advantage of my financial generosity. We were engaged for three months, and after coming clean about cheating on me (with a guy no less), I was out of there. I gathered up everything he had given me, put it in a garbage bag, and left it on the stairs leading up to his apartment three days later. Once I went, I never looked back. It was one of the most painful times of my life. I couldn't understand how I could have been so blind. I knew what I wanted; the standard was set. I vowed to do better next time.

In the fall of 2004, I started seeing a guy named Dane. Having the kind, loving heart that I do and (still) being stupidly naive at the age of 24, I chose to date a guy dying from emphysema and congestive heart failure. He was born three months premature, and his health issues were not found until later on in his life. They were caused by lung complications after his birth. In four months he also lied to me, cheated on me, and totaled my car. I can still remember him saying, "I want you to go. I don't want you to see me like this." I say bull; he was making room for the next flavor of the month to walk through the door. I can still remember his Dad looking at me and saying, "He needs you." Apparently not, there was someone better waiting in the wings. I walked out the door that day and never looked back. Once again, I could not understand why I allowed this to happen. I didn't value myself or thought I had any worth. I also wanted to "fix" everyone's issues. Years later, I found out that Dane had passed away at the age of twenty-six.

I didn't date anyone for a year and a half. I needed a break and dating wasn't worth it to me anymore. I was better off alone. I went through a stage of male loathing. All men were lying, cheating scum bags. I spent that time working, writing, and hanging out with friends. All the while fighting the deep, dark, suffocating emotion of "missing' being in a relationship. It wasn't that I couldn't survive on my own, quite the contrary. I have never been one to "have to have'" a man. But I missed having someone. Still, I wound up back at square one eventually.

In the spring of 2006, I started seeing a guy named Finian. We worked together at the Kroger grocery store in town. At the time, my car was in the shop due to a fender bender. I honestly can't say anything terrible about Finian. He was kind, funny, considerate and took me any place I needed to go. He was from Missouri, so he had an accent that I found endearing. He had some of the qualities as my crush from so long ago, so I thought this might be it. As time went on, he pulled away more and more. I kept reaching and he kept retreating. I fault both of us for this. I was very emotionally needy at the time, and I think he wasn't ready for a mature relationship. I think he wanted someone he could have "fun" with and move along. I got my answer when he left a box full of everything I had given him and a note that read, "The game is over. There is no continue." I was devastated. Once again I was just a red smear in the rearview of someone's life. It was apparent to me that I was the problem and that no one would ever want to be with me. In a fit of tears and rage, I swore that I would never get into another relationship. Why could I never find a guy with the standards I wanted? Was a good personality, sense of humor, and kind heart too much to ask?

More Time Passed...

Two years later, in the fall of 2008, I started casually talking to a guy named James that I worked with. We would cross paths on lunch or breaks and sit and chat. I can remember telling one of our mutual friends that I would be nice to him and talk to him, but I would never date him. I swore to myself that I would never go through that again. Eventually, we went out to dinner to get to know each other better. From that night on we were pretty much inseparable. As the months went by I learned that he had a good personality, sense of humor, and a kind heart. We also had quite a bit in common. We both like heavy metal music, love to read and are both writers. He also did not want children, so that was a plus too. Six months after we started dating I had to have back surgery. He stood by me through it all. Three years later we found out that my Aunt had cancer and soon after she passed away. He was still there. Everything that I loved about the guy I worked with so long ago, James possessed and more. He stuck it out through the hard times and never backed away. James never retreated; he stayed steady and reliable. James loved me at my worst and my best.

Finally, I knew I had someone worth keeping. James did too because we were engaged in 2010. Nine days after our fifth anniversary of dating, we got married. We had a small Irish wedding with a bagpiper, traditional Irish vows, and a few other traditions woven into our ceremony. It was a great day spent with friends and family.

I still smile when I think of the man that set the standard for what I wanted by just being him. He has been happily married for quite some time now. We have crossed paths now and then over the years. He always greets me with a warm smile and a kind word. He's glad that I found James and has reminded me not to take that for granted. He is one of the greatest human beings I have ever met. It still amazes me that as heartbroken as I was back then, I would have never dreamed that an unrequited love would eventually lead me to my husband.






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  • Tomas Chough 3 years, 6 months ago

    This is a beautiful story Carrie. A perfect example that life is full of surprises and the importance of not giving up. Hard times often seem like the worst but end up being some kind of special message. Congrats to you for being happily married!

    • Carrie Lowrance 3 years, 6 months ago

      Thank you, Tomas. It was quite a journey to get here. :)

  • Miranda Fotia 3 years, 6 months ago

    Great story!