During that summer after the house-fire, I worked for a neighbor who made spinning wheels. Things began to look up for me. I had somewhere to go certain days. I even had a bit of a boyfriend. We started seeing each other in August. He was a friend from high school.

In late July into August, the man I was working for (let’s call him “G”) started to act funny. At first, in June, he was a like a father-figure. G was nice old man of mid 70’s. He helped me make a chest to replace the one I made in high school. He taught me a little about spinning wheels. G and I talked about books and movies. He told me that I was an old soul.

One day, he asked me if I wanted to go to bed with him.

I thought he was joking so I laughed at him. The question was so ridiculous. Honestly, I didn’t know what to do other than laugh. I was never told what to do if some crazy old man asked me to have sex with him.

He didn’t do anything to me. He just would look at my expression – searching for a consent. After an awkward pause, we would turn away. A while after, he would tell me that he was just joking.

But he would ask me again. Then, again.

I was very naïve nineteen to twenty year old. I didn’t understand what was going on. I wish that I left, but my body and mind just froze. When I came home, I blocked the sexual harassment out.

One day, G called the house and wanted to know if I wanted to go out shopping with him.

We came home and I helped him unload the groceries. We had a nice time. It was like we’re friends again. After the groceries were away, I stood there, ready to say goodbye and leave. He walked towards me and kissed me on my lips.

I didn’t know what to do, and even if I did, I don’t think it would have done any good.

After he kissed me, without asking about my pay, I got out of there.

Since that time, I’ve become suspicious and fearful of every man. It didn’t matter if he were a panhandler on the street or a guy packing my grocery bags. I always assume that he wants more from me than what he’s asking.

It was all too much. To find a sanctuary, I asked my then-boyfriend if I could move in with him. I didn’t know this too could be a bad decision.

For three years living with that boyfriend (let’s call him “R”) and his mother, I was fighting depression. Because he thought that I should want the same things as he did, I was unhappy with him.

Every day was a struggle. R and I didn’t have much in common and would argue about my religion (Neopaganism) and my social-political views (feminism). In the times that we did get along, I kept quiet about the things that were important to me. Every time I mention that I wanted to go to school, he would brush it off. While exploring other avenues of belief and practice within Neopaganism, R would make fun of me.

The only thing that was keeping me going was my blog.

I was stuck. I still didn’t have a driver’s license or a car. I had a full-time temp job, and I was afraid if I moved in with my parents (who couldn’t bring me to work) I would miss a great opportunity to get a full-time job. So I stayed unhappy.

After about a year, I felt nothing for R. At first, I didn’t understand and I shrugged it off. I’ve never been in love before or with R, so I didn’t see what was wrong.

To make matters worse, towards the end of the three-year relationship, I was dealing with an identity crisis. Since I was 13 years-old, I was a Neopagan. After living with someone who argued with me about my personal belief system and finding out online that Wicca was not what I thought it was – I didn’t know who I was anymore.

Things looked bad for us, but I felt terrible about not having any feelings for him.

I wanted to move out and get our own place, but as soon as we looked at the nice place close by my work, R decided that he didn’t want to move. He wanted to stay with his mother.

I needed to move back with my parents to get a car and start school. Instead, I helped R buy a car so that he could teach me how to drive. I didn’t think the lack of feelings were were important.

It took me a long time to realize this, but we simply weren’t right for each other. We weren’t supposed to be lovers or even boyfriend and girlfriend, we supposed to be friends.

Come to find out the Nisssan didn’t fix anything. After buying our car, one day, R took me to work and struck up a conversation about marriage and joint bank accounts. It was then I knew I made a mistake.

I was still unhappy and very, very badly wanted out.

When I moved into my apartment, I felt bad – guilty even – that I refused to “work things out” between R and I, but when I thought about him, all I could think about was how unhappy I was. Because he felt hurt and angry, R – and this is a great example of his character – called me at 9:30 at night knowing that I was going to bed. He was willing to make me just as miserable as he was.

Living at the apartment made me realize how much my environment can affect my anxiety and depression. R’s house was always a mess – cluttered with things we didn’t need and dirty with cat fur. I longed for cleanliness. I always kept my apartment clean and I felt so much better for it.

I was also living alone so I didn’t have someone there to make fun of me or argue with me about my personal beliefs. I felt so happy for a while…

I want to say that my luck in love changed, but it didn’t.

After R, I became involved with a jealous emotionally abusive man who was always unhappy and insecure (let’s call him “B”).

B gave me a roller-coaster of a relationship. Throughout the relationship, he manipulated me. He made me think that what I decide to do was my decision. When in reality, he inserted the thought into my head.

B got jealous and suspicious when I mentioned a friend, checked my cellphone or Facebook, looked at a guy walking on the street, wore a short skirt or makeup, hung out with a friend, or talked to anyone while we were out. He broke up with me twice because he thought I was cheating on him with a friend.

One time, because he thought that I was cheating on him, he threatened to leave me on the side of the road several miles from my home.

One time, before he moved out of my apartment, B was nice to me all day. We went out for the day visiting yard sales and looking for treasures. That night, he told me he was moving out of my apartment tomorrow morning. I cried and cried, but it didn’t make any difference.

I have a bit of a speech impediment. Even though I’m thinking of saying the words, sometimes I can’t get them out. B would make fun of me. I’m an outgoing kind of person who likes to be funny. B hated it when I was goofy.

B made it very difficult to be with him. He either was jealous of people around me or insecure about himself.

Two years of that, I didn’t know who he was or what he truly wanted from me so I had to break up with him. Honestly, I wasn’t mad at him, I was just done with all the bullshit.

To this day, when a friend especially my boyfriend is nice to me, I worry that they are planning to leave me.

To this day, I worry about saying/doing the wrong thing that would cause jealousy.

I moved out of my apartment to my parent’s new house. I started school in January 2013. I bought a car in April 2013. I broke up with him in June. I got my driver’s license in August 2013. Two-thousand and thirteen was a good year for me!

I felt relieved that the nightmare was over, but the scars still stayed with me.

This is the time in my story when everything changes.

At game night, in January 2014, I met Tom. To this day, I’m surprised that, after all that I’ve been through, I was willing to date another man, but Tom was genuine, polite, funny, smart, successful, and very easy-going. At the time, I was willing to throw everything in the ring and date this man (to hell with my past!).

It was something about him that made me feel comfortable. I felt like I could be myself around him. Unlike other guys, he would laugh at my jokes and my goofy faces.

On February 8, 2014, we decided to go on a date and we’ve been together ever since.

Having the right person in your life makes a lot of difference. I had people in my life who gave me reasons to fear. I was with a person who exacerbated my depression and made me miserable every day. I was with a person who made me anxious and fearful. Tom never hurts me in any way. In fact, while with him, my anxiety and depression have eased their grip on me.

I still deal with anxiety and depression. When I first moved in with Tom, I was so worried that our relationship wouldn’t last and so went into a deep depression. I thought for sure that this wonderful thing in my life wouldn’t last long.

Gee, was I wrong.