Any time I hear “Grenade” by Bruno Mars I think of how utterly … naïve that song is. I mean, it’s pseudo-cavalier and martyr-iffic that you would permanently impair or kill yourself for someone else, but I don’t think anybody who loves you would want you to do so. With that said, I’ve been there. I cringe every time I think about it; that moment when I made myself look like a fool for someone I really cared about. It was also a moment I learned to let myself be human.
I was 19 and he was my first boyfriend. I swore on my heart I was in love with the guy. I knew from the moment I met him that we would be married and have kids and dogs and a great house fit with the American-dreamy white picket fences. (Vomit when this paragraph is over.) I went out of my way to make him feel special and to let him know that I cared about him incredibly madly deeply (yes, Savage Garden-deep), not limited to but including going on a boating trip at the lake with him and his ex-boyfriend.
Yep. The ex. He said I didn’t have to go, but you know, I was jealous. I didn’t want him and his ex getting in where I should’ve been so I went. And it was awkward. I tackle-hugged the ex to break the ice, and I hated water and doing things in the water. To add to the pain, my boyfriend’s drunk friends kept pestering me to wakeboard, and like I said, I do not do water. I thought I had a friend when my boyfriend’s ex wasn’t doing the water stuff either, but then he baled on the aquamarine wallflower club and jumped in with the rest of them leaving me on my own.
So feeling alienated and like the wet blanket of the group, I jumped into the lake. Like without having swam in years, like without having a lifejacket on, I dove into the lake and sunk like a heavy stone. And I sunk a long way down but kicked my way up to the surface, where I struggled to keep myself afloat.
It took my boyfriend and one of the drunk dudes to help catapult me back up. Everybody else noticed but tried to busy themselves with other things. Yeah, the experience was incredibly embarrassing, and one I look back on from time-to-time as totally unnecessary until now.
Why did I need to be there — on this boat in the lake with my boyfriend and his recent ex and their drunk friends? My insecurity.
After spending the rest of the boat trip shivering from the shock, everybody said their obligatory “nice to meet yous.” On our way back to my apartment while I was driving on the interstate, my boyfriend seemed upset in the passenger seat. He wouldn’t tell me why so I pulled over and attempted to have a heart-to-heart. He wanted me to have a great time and felt I didn’t, which is the truth. The only time that I recall having a great time was when we were being new-relationship cute while I was sitting between his legs in a weird way. His ex would later admit that we were cute, and he was happy for us.
But that paled in comparison to the immense embarrassment I was feeling. I must’ve lied and said it was okay. We hugged and carried on. But when we got to my apartment and he went to grab us something to eat, I bawled my butt off on the living room couch. I made myself look like a giant wet fool in front of my first boyfriend AND in front of his ex. And yes, I was trying to seem all put together and better than he was. The boyfriend returned and found me hiding under a blanket on the couch even wetter than when I drowned in the lake. We cried some more and eventually moved on. He said I was great and that the embarrassment made me seem more human rather than before when I was trying to seem perfect.
And I think that was my first lesson on learning to just be and not trying to direct life, to learn to let things be and just be myself. When I’m not (and you’re not), I have the tendency to make a complete (and wet) *ss of myself.