Where do I even start?
If you knew him you’d understand. He was that guy in high school who could do no wrong. He got good grades, not because he was exceptionally bright, but because every teacher loved him and made leaps and bounds to make sure he passed. Everyone loved him. He played bass in our church’s youth band and served on the leadership team. He never missed a mission trip or a church event. He showed kindness to people, to everyone.
He was athletic and a starter on the football team but he didn’t identify with the typical jock persona and everyone knew it. He knew it. He avoided drinking and partying. He proudly held a reputation of purity and dependability. He prayed over the team before big games and gospeled to fellow players on the bus rides home.
He was funny. He was confident and charming. He had that long, shaggy brunette hair in junior high but once he got older, he cut it short. It was kind of like the whole Jim transformation in season 3 of The Office.
He was the kind of guy that all parents hope their daughters bring home. Any time he came over or my stepmom saw him at church, she swooned. She constantly asked about him, saying that someone in my friend group needs to date him. Telling me to date him. “He’s a good one. So kind. So godly.”
And I think that may have been one of the hardest parts, after my 21st birthday. My parents kept asking about him. “Why don’t you hang out with him any more? What’s he been up to? He’s a good one.”
But he stopped hanging out with our friend group after my 21st birthday. This was a group of people from my high school that had bonded as a result of our involvement in church youth events. They were all inseparable, hanging out every night. The boys had all been long friends and the girls joined in junior high, maybe 8th or 9th grade. I had my crazy band obsession so I’d really only join in occasionally. I’d see them all at church on Sunday’s and Wednesday’s and at church events, but I had other friends and was pretty shy. I didn’t like hanging out in big groups of people much. So I didn’t start to find my place in this group until college.
He worked for the University of Arkansas Football team. He worked crazy hours as a football manager because he dreamed of being a football coach some day. He rushed a fraternity his freshman year and claims to have chosen Kappa Sigma because he heard it had the worst reputation and he wanted to be a good influence on the other guys. Boy, did the moms swoon at that one.
Alaina and I moved into our dorm freshman year over a week before classes started. We were in marching band and had “Hell week,” which consisted of rehearsals 10 hours per day. We were giddy and excited and looking forward to all of the exciting things ahead, like any freshmen would be.
Since he worked for the football team, he had been in Fayetteville all summer. He was a year ahead of us and lived in an apartment with another mountain homie from our friend group. Alaina and I met up with them our first night in Fayetteville after getting settled into our dorm. It was so nice having friendly, familiar faces that first night away from home. It really set a great tone for the semester.
The two of them would randomly show up to our dorm a lot my freshman year. They were always around and always wanting to do something fun. So many great memories from freshman year are held with them. They threw me a surprise party at their apartment when I turned 20. They got a cake and put a big sombrero on my head. They decorated with streamers and were so excited. I still have the card they wrote me.
Alaina and I lived on campus again our sophomore year. Between class, marching band, concert band, working at the HPER, and studying, we spent all of our time on campus. It made the most sense to live in a dorm again.
We moved in a week early, knowing what to expect for our second “Hell Week.” One night near the end of the week I leave our room to grab my laundry and when I come back, they are in our room. It wasn’t an unusual occurrence for them to show up unannounced so I wasn’t surprised and just walked in holding my laundry basket full of clean clothes. But Alaina was video taping and Rach started playing “My Heart Will Go On” from Titanic on her phone. He asked, “Will you marry me?” in a serious voice, and I said “Where’s the ring?” as if it was the most normal thing. We had made a deal that if we both made it to 35 years old and we weren’t married, then we would marry each other. They were complete goofballs and always pulling little charades like this. The guys were always goofing around.
He referred to me as “Wife” every time he greeted me after that and it became another little joke in our group. I’d tell him to go study so he could support our family and he’d tell me I looked beautiful as the day he’d married me. I told my parents about this little bit and they loved it. They probably wished it were true. I know that I sure did.
I had a huge crush on him. I think every girl in our friend group did at one point. He and Nicole almost dated. Others in the group admit to me at points throughout the years that they had a crush on him. It was so hard not to like him. He could charm his way into any heart.
Sophomore year continues and he seems to let loose a little more. Looking back, there was definitely a shift in him. He’s still actively involved in C3 and Cross Church, his fraternity, and football. But you can tell he’s stressed and a little overcommitted. We are similar in the way that we never stop going and like to keep busy. He goes into what he refers to as his “wild stage.” We have a few parties at their apartment and he continues to joke and call me wifey and slip that charm into every interaction.
We start to get closer that spring, my second year. I was very invested in all of his girl troubles and there were times he showed up to the HPER, when I worked crazy hours, with sonic or coffee to vent to me and ask advice. Sometimes he’d visit me at work just because, to say hi.
Sophomore year ends and we all get together at their apartment to drink and play games. We play a game of truth or dare and he and I are dared to kiss. We drink a little too much and he and I fall asleep on one of the couches in his living room that is much too small for two people. We got cuddly but it was all still pretty innocent and harmless. I actually apologize to him the next morning in a text saying that I was sorry things got a little heated. Always apologizing. It’s always my fault.
Junior year starts. The weekend of my birthday was laid out perfectly. My 21st birthday was on Saturday, September 3rd which held the first Razorback football game of the season. It was labor day weekend so we got that Monday off of school, so more time to procrastinate schoolwork too. This was my first game not being in marching band so I was so excited to actually tailgate and wear something other than a wool suit. I picked up a shift for that Saturday morning because the pay was time and a half and I would be able to go straight to the game afterwards.
Because I had this shift, I hadn’t originally made any plans for that Friday night. I am the oldest in my friend group so no one would be able to go out anyway and I had big plans for the rest of the weekend. My friend Sarah was in town and I was meeting up with her and a bunch of others Saturday night for dinner and margaritas and then Dickson Street.
However, my roommates and I decided spur of the moment to go to Dickson Street Pub. We sat on the patio so they could join, not being 21. I ordered a drink at midnight when I turned 21. I was really tired from a long week so I planned to finish one drink then come home so I could wake up early for work. Then he arrived and things didn’t really go as planned.
He and his friend showed up fashionably late and he immediately went to the bar. They came back with four shots. Two with tequila and two with bacardi rum. My eyes were probably huge when he told me that they were all for me. I’m not sure if it’s obvious yet, but I have no idea how to handle my alcohol. I have no tolerance whatsoever, especially at this time because I had cut out alcohol in training for my first full marathon. But he assured me, “If you remember your 21st birthday then you did something wrong.” So he encouraged me to take all of them right there at once.
After taking all four of the shots, I continue to sip on my first drink and I start to feel it fast. To be honest I don’t really remember much from this night.
While up late writing, I was actually concerned with how little I remembered after those shots. I had a general idea, but I had drank so much that night I wasn’t confident about how it played out. I texted a friend who was there that night at 1:30 a.m. not even realizing how late it was because I started to get anxious. She replied the next afternoon.
After hearing this other side of the story, I was kind of angry that they let him just come into my room like that when I was drunk, but I didn’t realize that he said he was going to check on me. Of course he did, so kind. And looking back, I also realized no one would have any reason not to believe that. I mean its him. He’s a good one.
I threw up in our driveway. Before I even made it into the house, into my room. I immediately went into my room to go to bed, rightfully so. I drank too much and needed to sleep it off. But he still found it okay to come in and get in bed with me. I don’t remember a lot of details here, but I remember that I kept having to rip his hands away from my waist and tell him to stop. And then I remember us kissing and I had to stop him because I was about to throw up again. He got up to get my trash can and I immediately threw up. And I was crying. And he walked out.
I have no idea what he did after that. I don’t know how he got home or where he went. But I do know that the next morning I texted him and apologized for being a “shit show” and he says it’s okay and not to worry about it. Why did I apologize so much? Why do I always think everything is just my fault?
I wake up and recover before work. Tyler, my coworker, picks me up, and immediately hands me a birthday gift when I get in his car. I open up the box and it is a beautiful wine glass with my initials engraved into it. I am shocked at this gift that is one of the most thoughtful and personal gifts I’ve ever received from someone outside of my family. I tell Tyler about my night and what happened and he got really quiet and told me, “You deserve better than that, Olivia.”
But the guilt and the shame and the embarrassment of yet another drunk night of stupidity was heavy. And of all people. One of my best friends. How was I going to look at him ever again? He probably thought I was so crazy and gross and never wanted to speak to me again. I threw up while we were making out. Ugh. I’m disgusting. I avoided him at all costs. I slowly stopped attending cross church and the bible studies. And he never came and visited me at work any more or offered to go get coffee or really ever talked to me. This amazing, kind, wonderful goofy selfless guy. The guy who leads my bible study and my parents love and who makes everyone smile and laugh. I lost him. Man, you really messed this one up.
I don’t know, maybe I really built this up in my head to be worse than it was. It wasn’t as bad as the other situations I experienced. But why is this the hardest experience to write about? Why does it bring up so many emotions when someone mentions him or I see him pop up on social media? The other guys hurt and they took a part of me and they were traumatic in their own way, but for some reason this one hurt me the most.
I think it is just because in my mind he was so good. He was all things good. He was all things perfect and kind and exactly what I wanted. I don’t want the drunk one night stands or the pushy guys who take advantage of me. I don’t want the physical stuff. I want good. I want kindness and selflessness. I want connection and friendship. I want the little surprise parties and visits to work and random gifts and compliments. I want the sweetness and I want the good and I want love.
And I think that when he didn’t live up to my ridiculously high expectations, I didn’t see it as him not being good. I saw that as me again messing up, failing. I saw that as me messing up the good, losing the good, not deserving the good. Losing love, not deserving love, not being enough. I think that this just solidified that idea in my mind that I don’t deserve a guy like him. It solidified in my mind that idea that I deserve all of this. I deserved what Brad did. I deserve the heartache and the abuse and the mistreatment. If that is what this kind, good, Godly guy, one of my best friends, gives me then I must deserve it.
You aren’t good. You aren’t worthy. You aren’t enough. It’s your fault. You deserved it. No wonder this voice kept getting louder and louder.