I believed that love is something that one only finds once in their lifetime or else it isn’t pure. I believed in what I had been told and trusted in the wrong sources. My view of growing up was limited to the marketing schemes of corporate America from television to print. My relationship examples were my parents who have been together since they were eighteen and my sister who is married to her high school boy friend she met at Church camp. I believed that the truest honor is to love someone unconditionally with complete forgiveness. What I did not realize was that it was love that I did not understand.

My high school boyfriend was heavily into drinking alcohol and chose to surround himself with a crowd of boys who behaved unseemly for a Catholic community. Nonetheless, I bought in to the whole bad boy austere and thought the world of him. I was definitely in that stage that you will find fourteen year old girls- naïve. If there was something in the world to know about I knew it. At least, that was what I thought because I read every mainstream media outlet and loved novels about current events and everyone told me how smart I was for a girl. In a small town where being the ideal Christian daughter held supreme- I was your walking stereotype. Finding a double varsity sport playing, Christian, farm-loving, southern boy, well, I thought I hit the jackpot. He was the local bad boy, but for me he was good. Parents would comment on how I was the reason he was not like his friends. I would get approached at the mall by locals to get an update on, “how many years have you two love birds been together now?” Sometimes I would even get the question, “Are you going to follow your man to college?” I was furious to be asked these questions because I am, perhaps, the most feminist person that I know. However, I felt the need to play the submissive girlfriend card because that is what good Christian girls do.

I continued this charade under the premise that unconditional love meant sacrifice. I had to love my boyfriend because he was what I was supposed to be interested in and I was the only girl who could keep him in check. Love meant giving up what you want for someone else. Love meant letting others believe you’re happy because good girls make other people happy. I was a character in a Kathryn Stockett novel and convinced that I was being influenced to behave as such.

It should come as no surprise that my boyfriend cheated on me with multiple women. I was so shocked. How could the boy that behaved so well for me that loved me so much cheat? Well, quite simply actually. It is easy to be surprised when you’re not looking at all of the information. Who was on his molecule? He surrounded himself with sexually promiscuous, disloyal, drug participating boys. If we choose who we allow into our life, then who he chose to surround himself with was a reflection of him. He was not a bad boy. He was a bad choice.

We have come to learn this semester that one cannot be influenced. I have been through three stages when coming to terms with my break up. At first, I took the he was so drunk he did not know better approach. This is the type C approach. While alcohol can cloud judgment, it does not remove the information we know. He knew I was his girlfriend and an excuse is choosing to not accept the obvious. He made a decision and if I were an option for a choice, then he did not know he did not love me. Well, accepting that I had been wrong was not going to be my first choice so I moved on to other options. My second approach was that he was influenced by his “bad friends”. It does not take anyone who has learned IMT to know that could not be true either. My final approach is to accept that I did not perceive the truth.

At the end of the day, it was not my boyfriend or my home town who led my relationship to destruction- I did. I chose to have a boyfriend because it looked like that was what I was supposed to. I said yes to the first person who asked as if it was a box to check off then three years into it decide it must be love. I took a type C approach to life and perceived little of reality. I blamed all of the people I put on my molecule for behaving in the only way that came natural to them. It was I who was behaving unnaturally by being this submissive archetype. Four years later, I understand that I was upset not at the loss of my relationship, but rather, at the loss of my dream state. If love is a choice, then you do not know and it cannot be reality.

That is what IMT has taught me.

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