hands holding each other

Image courtesy of Microsoft

A Letter to All the Dear Johns
| published September 2, 2015 |

By Jennifer Walker-James,
Thursday Review contributor

They say a person never forgets their first love. My question is, how does one forget any love? Each time you give your heart to someone, you never expect to get it back. But life and love doesn't always ask us what we want, does it? Sometimes, the very beating core of who we are—a shining piece that we so selflessly give to someone else is returned back to us, broken and scattered. Devastated, we take the shattered pieces and start mending ourselves back into a somewhat recognizable version of our former selves. But despite our best attempts, the scars are still visible and our pain is still evident.

We repeat this vicious cycle until we find our soul mate...if one should be so lucky, that is. Some get it right on the first try. They married their high school sweethearts and are, therefore, still seamless reflections of their youthful self. If you're one of those, congratulations! This blog post will likely mean nothing to you other than simply to satiate any voyeuristic fetish you may have when it comes to hearing the sad tale of the girl next door who still can't score a date.

On the other end of the Love Story Spectrum exists the poor souls who are forever doomed to wander the earth alone...and celibate. It's very safe to say that I am pretty sure I'm edging closer and closer to that extreme, with each failed relationship. And I'm okay with it...Really... I've had my share of love and loss and everything in between—enough so that I can always reminiscently blog about each relationship and perhaps have a novel when all is said and done. Take that, Nicholas Sparks!

My story is excruciating and mortifying, to say the least. In my previous posts, I've hinted at the sad case of gaunt physical imperfection that was my teenage self. However, to refresh your memory, I'll offer yet another description, if only for my own self-deprecating humor. Some will argue that since I won a pageant or two, that's not the case—that I was not that ugly duckling. Yeah, a pageant or two was won after I learned the art of wearing 40lbs of makeup and started curling my hair every day. Flat irons were not as available then as they are today. So my mousey brown hair was pretty much screwed, no matter the amount of products I used to keep it in check. I had TMJ which meant that I was painfully ushered into puberty with braces and neon rubber bands to boot! My nickname throughout junior high and beyond was "Skeeter"—an ode to my cup size (or lack thereof) as they were the size of mosquito bites. I was gaunt and pale before being gaunt and pale was cool thanks to Twilight. And did I mention I had freckles?

Now that you have a mental picture of the harrowing creature I was when I lurked the halls of GeCo High, you can probably understand why I never got my first kiss until I was fifteen. But with said kiss came the issuance of my first broken heart months later with many more to ensue in the years to come.

Don't misunderstand me; though I'm not here to sing the praises of my former darlings, I'm not here to bash every guy who has ever hurt me. People are people. They have feelings. They get hurt. Life goes on. I'm simply here to pay homage, however, to the scars they left on my heart and the stories behind each one. And I don't know of any better way to say what I want to say other than to write it all out in a letter—a final love letter of sorts. So here goes to saying what I've wanted to say for years to every boy who has ever broken my heart.

Dear Johns,

It's so nice to see you all doing so well...or at least as well as you want me to think based on your Facebook statuses. It's okay. I lie, too, sometimes—a trick some of you taught me how to do very well. But that's not what my intentions are here and now. No, I'm simply writing to tell you all how your presence and, ultimately, your absence has impacted me.

The first shout-out I'd like to give is to the boy who first stole my heart. Giver of my first kiss and first boy to steal my heart, I see you are doing exceptionally well. You've finally found your niche in life and destiny is quickly sweeping you toward huge success. I couldn't be more proud. But just as the world may soon see you as one of its brightest spectacles of talent, I'll always remember your impish grin and contagious laughter. And the image of your cerulean eyes gleaming down at me—set ablaze by the glow of the stadium lights beaming overhead as you slowly leaned in and kissed me for the first time is still etched in my memory. That 50 yard line may likely never see a more precious moment, either. It still amazes me how you taught me to love unselfishly and unconditionally when we were both so young and so naïve. But I thank you for it. You made me feel strong inside and out. With you, I was capable of anything. You made me feel important and wanted. You gave me a rare glimpse of what it's like to appreciate the raw, unfiltered beauty of another person's soul. You held my heart when you held my hand. And then you broke it when you let go and found love somewhere else. Here we are, sixteen years later and I still can't find it in me to hate you or feel anything but a lingering respect and love for the person you've always been and the person you have become. I sincerely wish you the best of luck and truly hope life gives you an amazing journey from here on out.

The next boy on my list probably doesn't even realize he's on here. You probably don't know who you are, but keep reading because I assure you, that's about to change. You don't know you broke my heart because you never knew you had it in the first place. After having it broken for the first time, I was very hesitant to ever give it to anyone ever again. You and I never called ourselves "boyfriend" and "girlfriend," but you never left room for doubt in my mind as to how you felt about me. In fact, one night, you even started to tell me you were falling in love with me, but I cut you off. I was scared at the prospect of ever being hurt again, so I tried to change the subject. You courageously stumbled through the rest of your speech as we both sat there, peering into each other's eyes. With little more than the soft glow of the street light pouring through your windshield, I could barely see the single tear you released when I lied and told you I didn't feel the same. Yes, I did call you later that night to try to tell you it was a lie. And though we did continue seeing one another after that, it wasn't the same. And ultimately, you did break my heart when you said goodbye the night of my senior prom.

The next victim boy on my list is the one who would be credited with sending me into a psychotic downward spiral—someone I should have never given such power to. You, my friend, will forever be the one who taught me that heartlessness is often found in the prettiest of packages. You wooed me, serenaded me, and made me feel like I was special. I gave you my trust before you ever earned it. So much so that I gave you a part of me that I had never given anyone before you—a part of me that I would never be able to get back. And once you got that, you literally hit the road without even a backward glance. I was beyond devastated; I was on the brink of a nervous breakdown. What the hell was I thinking? I hear you later got a girl knocked up and had to marry her. And now, I'm more than certain your name is also on the Ashley Madison list. You haven't changed. And you never will. But if there is one thing I can say, it's this: loving you took me almost as low as a person can go in a short amount of time. But at the end of my downward course, I shot back up taller, stronger, and higher than I had ever been. I hope you enjoy life in the hellhole of suburbia you call home. May you never have to endure the same pain you put me through. Maybe one day, you'll be the man I thought you were.

Next to last on the list is someone I thought would be the one I get to grow old with. Well, that was a farce, wasn't it? It's funny; your lips—the same lips that offered ardent kisses in the beginning—would later utter irrevocable words that eventually made me question my own worth as a human being. Your hands would hold me one minute and push me down the next. I gave up everything, and I do mean everything to pursue a life with you. But your mask slid off the moment the ring slid on. And for that, I have nothing to say just as you had nothing to offer.

The last Romeo on this list is yet another unsuspecting lad who never knew he held my favor. Because I never told him so. To this man, you rescued me without even trying to. You taught me to enjoy being just me. You found my independence beautiful and intriguing. You encouraged me to stray from the realms of my comfort zone to taste a new way of living. Thank you. You called me "babe" and you called me "silly." And then, one day, you didn't call me at all. Days turned into weeks without a word from you. It's not that you broke my heart; honestly, there wasn't anything left of it to give when you swept me off my feet. But you did solidify my theory that 99.9% of the male population is not as authentic as they portray themselves to be. You confirmed my beliefs that guys are dishonest, selfish, unfeeling, and unfaithful. But, darn you, you're still one of the best pals a girl could ever ask for. It's such a shame, really. Maybe one day, you'll grow up and realize your full potential. But frankly, I've got better things to do than to sit around and wait for that. So best of luck to you. May you live long and prosper!

To the rest of you who've ever proven to be solely seeking carnal relations or pursued me with a hidden agenda, you know who you are, thanks, but no thanks. In the words of Danny Zuko, "Sloppy seconds ain't my style."

To all of you mentioned in this letter, I'm sorry if I have ever hurt, you, too. I do realize that the doors of heartbreak swing both ways at times. But thank you for teaching me what it is to love myself and realize my dreams with undying passion. The pain caused by your actions only reminded me that I'm still here, I'm still alive, and I've got one hell of a story left to tell. And yes, all of you are in it. Oh but don't worry; I'm not bitter. I'm better than I've ever been. With a wink from The Man Upstairs, I've picked up the pieces of my broken heart and fashioned a much more durable and happier version of the freckled, tenacious band geek I once was. A phoenix rising from the ashes, I continue to seize each day with a new zest for life itself—mostly thanks to you.

And should I ever seek and find love again, I'm sure whoever he is will be grateful to you all as well. Because thanks to you, he'll have a woman who knows how to appreciate his talent, his efforts. And as this woman, I will always cheer him on and push him to pursue his dreams and aspirations. As this woman, I will know how not to treat him and how not to lie or take advantage of his kindness.

I sincerely wish you all the best of the best. Believe it or not, you once had it and let it go. Maybe you won't make the same mistake again.

Related Thursday Review articles:

The Art of Joyful Living; Brien Sorne; Thursday Review; March 10, 2014.

Thursday Review Readers Can Instantly Interact; Thursday Review; April 4, 2015.