Henry could see how nervous Emma was. He could also see how hard she was trying to keep it a secret. “What’s wrong, Em?”
She looked up, startled. ‘No point postponing any longer’ she told herself.
“There’s something I’ve been meaning to tell you. Something about me. Something I should have told you a long time back.”….
“What is it Em? You know you can tell me anything,” replied Henry.
No longer able to look into his eyes, Emma concentrated on her food. She took her time. She knew Henry wouldn’t hurry her.
Feeling much calmer than before, she finally began her story.
Staring off into the distance…
The guy we met that day at the restaurant. He’s, umm… his name is Ben. I met Ben in my first year of college. I was in the Marketing Programme and he was studying Management. We met at a party. He was a friend of a friend.
He seemed like a very nice guy. He was charming and friendly and talked to everyone there. It was almost like everyone there loved him. And well, they actually did. He was that charming a guy. We didn’t really get a chance to talk that day other than when my friend introduced us. I pretty much hung out with Ryan the entire time.
After that day, we coincidentally ran into each other at school a couple of times. After a while, he was almost a regular face I saw every time I went to the Management block. I… I got used to seeing him around.
We never planned and met, but each time we ran into each other, we talked a bit. We gradually got acquainted, we became friends and we would talk and catch up every time we met.
About a month later, he asked me out on a date…and I said yes.
We dated for a couple months before he asked me to be his girlfriend. I automatically said yes. Up until then, he had seemed like an extremely nice person. From word around the university, I knew he wasn’t seeing anyone else. Everyone thought he was a nice guy and I agreed. It was almost like there was just no reason to say no.
Looking back now, I know I got lost in my emotions. Despite Ryan being right there in University, we were studying different things. Things got hectic and busy very soon and I barely got the chance to hang out with Ryan. I mean, of course, if I had asked he would have definitely made time. But I always felt guilty for asking him. I knew that his was a much more difficult course and I knew how much work we had. We still managed to meet at least once a week, but I couldn’t shake off the loneliness I felt. I always had a group of friends with me, but I had never managed to get close to any of them.
Being with Ben had always made all those feeling disappear. He always managed to capture all of my attention. He encouraged me to push my limits and still make time for fun. He made me stop feeling lonely.
In hindsight, I know now that what he was doing, was taking over my attention. He subtly made sure that he was the only thing I thought about when I was with him. I hated it when he got possessive, he always managed to make me feel guilty for it, so I obliged without thinking about it too much.
Ben and I were in a relationship for the next 2 years, right until I finished university and things went completely downhill. He was all I thought about the entire time. He still encouraged me to do well in school. In truth, he was the reason I made that much of an effort and passed with a distinction. I wanted to please him, I wanted to make him happy. I owe him that.
He was smooth. It took him cheating on me and leaving me alone to realize that what I had gone through in the last two years was not love…it was abuse…