I remember the first time I saw him.
My best friend Lauren was in the delayed entry program, to go into the Navy. She asked me to go to her weekly meeting with her. I had gone with her before and she taught me the stuff she was learning, so I enjoyed going.
Ethan was in the front row, wearing a long-sleeve black shirt, and he had long, curly blonde hair. He was so handsome, but he looked like trouble.
Lauren told me he seemed like a jerk.
He added me on Facebook a few weeks later.
The beauty of social media.
January 31, 2011 was our first date.
And that was it.
He was amazing.
We had about 60 days together before he left for boot camp, but I didn’t care.
I wanted to enjoy every minute.
We went on the boat on the weekends.
We went to dinner, we went outside, we did everything.
He even bought me a promise ring.
And then he left.
I wrote him a letter almost every day, and he wrote me back.
I waited by the mailbox to see if I could get anything to feel close to him. One day he mailed me a flower he made out of paper.
He always told me he loved me, and I meant everything to him.
I missed him so much.
I started to hear rumors about Ethan. He was a junkie, and he had problems.
No way. He never told me so.
I suspected, but he constantly denied, and I believed him.
I figured if he did have a problem, going through boot camp would be the perfect detox.
Wishful thinking, stupid girl.
I flew up to Great Lakes, Illinois with his mother and brother to watch him graduate at the end of May.
I was so excited to see him.
We had two days. We loved. We laughed.
He told me he wanted to marry me someday, and I wanted that too.
As we walked, linking arms, down the sidewalk of the base, him in his dress-whites, and me in a striped dress, I thought, this is my fairytale.
What could go wrong?
He soon was stationed to Pensacola for A-School.
I don’t remember the exact moment I knew he was doing pills, but I knew something was up.
He would attribute it to back pain, and it wasn’t a big deal. He had gotten into a car accident a few years back.
I wonder if that was true.
His brother and I made the nine-hour drive to Pensacola to see him for a few days.
I remember his brother telling me that Ethan wanted him to bring drugs.
Honestly I couldn’t wait to get there to yell at him.
While I was there, I also found out he was talking to his ex-girlfriend on the phone for hours.
This broke my heart, but somehow he turned around on me as to how it was my fault, and she was the only person that understood him.
This was when the mistrust started.
But somehow, I let it go.
Being 18 and naïve may have had something to do with it.
One time we got pulled over while he had pills on him, and he ate them all at once.
Then he yelled at me for not hiding them for him. It was so infuriating.
I don’t know why I stayed.
I couldn’t grasp how he could do all of this to me.
I didn’t understand that I was dating an addict.
I was never going to be his first choice.
Little blue pills would always be his true love.
I changed my life, I lost my friends.
I gave up going to University of Florida, my dream.
You can’t be a faithful wife if you go there.
Even though when we first met, he thought it was amazing I had gotten accepted.
Is it love, or is it control that people seek?
In bad relationships you get to a point where you lose all of your friends, all of your support and you feel like your significant other is all you have. He was my world because I didn’t have anyone else, so I couldn’t leave. I told myself, I had nowhere to go.
I don’t know if he loved me, or if he just liked having a puppet.
I mailed him presents. I let him tell me what to do.
He got to yell at me, and I would always answer the phone. He knew that I would do whatever he wanted me to do.
He would call me every name in the book until I put money in his account.
Why do you always need money?
I was a server making $50 a day, and I would just give it to him.
I was completely manipulated. He would yell at me, to the point where I was hysterical, but then tell me all the nice things in the world.
He knew how to break me down to nothing, and then he would build me up, so I gained faith again.
I wish I could go back and punch myself in the face to snap out of it.
It kills me now to see others go through the same things because I know how it ends.
It ain’t pretty.
It’s ok, I thought, when we get married, things will be different.
He will stop doing drugs, and he will be nicer.
He will see everything I have done for him.
He will choose me.
Love conquers all, right?
I can’t wait to be Mrs. Cooper.