We say the word so often in so many different contexts. We love our parents. We love shoes. We love tv shows. But what does it mean to be in love? What does it feel like when you truly love someone not for who they are in the eye of the public, not for their talents, not for the things they say to you, but because of who you are when you’re with them? What does it feel like to love someone because of the passion they give you or the genuine kindness they show when the weight of the world rests on your shoulders, and insist on sharing the load? What does that feel like when someone seemingly loves you as much as you love them?
But, how do you move forward when you endure pain beyond description because of that same love?
Crystal Taylor, 25, has not only felt this same pain, but has proven to be one of the strongest young women I know as she endures it. As I begin my 100-day journey into understanding dating, happiness, romanticism, marriage, and divorce, Taylor reminds me of what it is like to be blissfully happy with someone. She also reminds me of the sometimes unforgiving process of happiness – the reality that nothing lasts forever, including love-filled relationships.
In a series of candid interviews, Taylor opened up to me in light of this project in an effort to give insight on the healing process after one of the hardest decisions she’s had to make – letting her greatest love go. As she pours into me, I reflect her words onto this page, and together we create the lyrics to her pain as well construct hope for her future. This is her story.
Tell me about your love life. Are you single? Dating? In a relationship? Married? It’s complicated?
I am single. I’m currently single. I’m newly single, but I’m single. It’s not really complicated. It just ended, essentially. There’s not much to say about it. It’s pretty tragic actually, but to answer the question, I’m definitely single.
Are you single by choice?
I don’t know if I would say it was my choice, but it was a choice that was made. I feel like a choice was made for me, and I kind of just had to move with the gradient, because moving against the gradient wouldn’t have helped me in the long run. The decision was made without being said that it was made on the other party’s account, and I just pretty much, had to flow with it.
Tell me about your greatest love. What did it feel like to be with him?
My greatest love was the relationship that I was just speaking on. How did it feel to be with him? It was a great feeling. I had some of the best moments of my life with him. It was a safe feeling, definitely fun, liberating, very free.
Do you still feel free?
No. With him? With him do I still feel free?
With myself, no. Right now, I actually feel like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders. I guess I’m just trying to cope with the whole breakup or how it happened or how abrupt or I guess how not abrupt it was. I don’t feel free anymore. I feel like I stopped feeling free maybe seven months ago. But I was holding on to what was and not what is.
Do you remember the moment you fell in love? Could you recall what happened?
The moment I fell in love and the moment I said I was in love were two different times. I didn’t just jump into it like, “Hey, I love you.” The moment I fell in love, we were in the car, oddly, sitting in the car, actually not too far from my house. We were just having a conversation, and I was literally bursting with laughter. Then when I looked up, I saw that he was staring at me, and then I was looking at him. We had this little awkward stare, and I just kind of looked away like okay. I was just thinking about it. In that very moment, we continued to talk, but then of course my mind was still wandering and I was just thinking, “Man, I really love this guy.” I love the way I feel when I’m with him. I love the way I can just be myself. I love who he is. I love how friendly he is, how positive he is. Always really good vibes, always positive vibes.
I loved how encouraging he was, because I was actually having a bad day. I had a horrible day that day. Just like that, that moment of freedom, I guess you could say, just how liberating that felt in that very moment, the fact that just his presence and literally us being in a car of course could not necessarily erase the day that I had but just make me feel like I was in another place and time. That’s just when I realized that I loved him, just the fact that he had the power to do that.
You mention there were two different times, what was it like when you said it?
I was actually super nervous to say that I loved him to his face. It’s so funny, because I actually, maybe two days before I said it, was in my room practicing saying it, like, “I love you. I love you.” But I never said it, because I was getting nervous when I was around him. Then another time, once again we were back chilling in his car, and we kind of had a disagreement. At this point in our relationship, we had always promised each other, even if we got mad at each other, we’ll talk it out, we’ll have conversations and we’ll always make sure that communication is on point.
We were just having a conversation in the car and I guess we were disagreeing about something, going back and forth. He ended up saying it first. I was like, “Hmm?” I was like, “Wait, did you say?” He was like, “Yeah, I said it. That’s how I feel or whatever.” Then I was like, “Oh, whatever.” I was like, “Yeah, I love you too.” Then that was how we said it. Actually saying it was like, “Ah!” I was screaming inside like, “Oh, my God.” But it was good.
Did you say it at all any of the ways you had practiced before?
No. It was so different because we were actually joking. Even though it was a serious moment, we were both laughing like, “Oh, my gosh. Ha, ha, ha, I love you too.” It was actually funny. It was a funny moment. It wasn’t as uptight and serious as I thought it would’ve been. I thought it would’ve been like a sit down, like, “Oh, my gosh, I love you,” and I would’ve had to wait for him to respond or not respond or whatever, but it wasn’t like that. It was just pretty much a reflection of our relationship that we had, fun. It was a fun moment.
As I’m watching you tell the stories of your past, you light up again from those memories. Do you enjoy remembering?
Sometimes I do. But today, no. Today I was deleting all our pictures out of my phone, and I’ve never really done that before. It was lots and lots of memories. I literally deleted 900 and something photos.
Why did you feel you had to do that?
I feel like when two people have their lives and they’re so engulfed in each other, moving on is so much more difficult when everything you do, everything you say, everywhere you walk, scents, people, remind you of that person. If I can control the immediate things next to me to not remind me of him, I’m going to try to do that. The simple fact that he bought me this laptop annoys the shit out of me, but I’m not going to get rid of my laptop. I’m going to keep using it. But the pictures of him that were on my mirror, I took them down today. The ones in my phone, I deleted them. I deleted our message thread, which is something I actually didn’t want to do it, but I was just like, “Just delete it, girl.” I deleted the thread.
As you were deleting the pictures and somewhat erasing what it is that you guys had, can you describe what that felt like?
It was hard, because when I actually saw one of the videos, I just wanted to call him and send it to him, like, “Nah, what were we thinking doing this video?” He was actually twerking in the video. It’s mad funny. It was in my living room and he had his hands up. I was like, “No, you got to bend over.” We were both so skinny in the video, because I got up and started twerking like, “Oh, my God, am I doing it?” I had a lot of different emotions. The launch of the business that we both created, that made me angry because I was just like, “Why were we doing long-term things for something that you weren’t even certain of?” Stuff like that made me angry.
That funny video made me laugh, made me actually want to contact him. There’s pictures of us from our first anniversary that made me laugh. I guess I went through a whirlwind of emotions, so many happy ones, so many jokey ones. At one point, maybe for 10, 15 minutes, I was weeping, snot coming out my nose, bad weeping. Didn’t have any tissue on hand. Everybody was in my living room, so I had to use my scarf, which is now in the dirty laundry, because there was a lot in that scarf. It was a whirlwind of emotions. When I was done though, when I actually deleted it, and deleted it out of the recently deleted, because you know that’s a whole other life. When I deleted out of the recently deleted, I cried for a half an hour until I fell asleep, which only lasted for five minutes, honestly, my sleep. Then I woke up, anxiously.
When did you tell yourself you were over it?
Today at work. Yeah. After having a conversation with a friend of mine. I feel like there’s certain people in your life, you just value what they say, you value what they think. I was just having a conversation with a friend and just pretty much just asked her to give me her full advice, like, “What do you think I should do?” She gave me her honest opinion. Beyond just her opinion, we just spoke about life and love and pretty much when someone’s not ready, you can’t make them be ready, essentially. She just advised me to not wait on something that wasn’t even set in stone. I guess in that very moment, I just realized that the person who I thought I would’ve been with or I thought I would’ve I loved for a longer time or a lifetime just honestly wasn’t the same person anymore. That revelation made me realize, yeah, it’s about time that you walk away from this table.
In the good, the bad, and the ugly, there are always lessons to be learned. What do you feel you’ve learned throughout this entire experience?
Oh, I’ve learned a lot. If I was to write down a list of things that I’ve learned, there would be categories and subcategories and sub-subcategories, subcategories to the sub-subs. But I guess one thing that I’ve taken with me from this relationship, and this can go for people I guess who are both religious and not religious or whatever the case may be, but being equally yoked. Not only in a religious aspect, is super important when it comes to a relationship. I feel like in friendships, you can have that diversity, but a relationship with somebody that you plan on being intimate with is super important.
I didn’t fully understand or even the concept of that I guess as younger Crystal, but being older and actually thinking about a life with someone, kids with someone, going on vacation, living with someone, it definitely changed my view on that, because things as simple as me being raised in a single-parent home and him being raised by his mother and his father brought up so many differences in our relationship. Because he was used to the male being the alpha in his home, and I was used to the woman being the alpha in mine. You can’t have two alphas in one home or one relationship at that. That was a huge issue in the beginning of our relationship. I didn’t know how to just not say anything. I didn’t know how to sit down and let him be the man, the alpha, take charge. That’s definitely important.
I learned the importance of communication. But the biggest lesson for sure is just learning how to walk away, even though that’s something I’m still trying to learn. But for sure, that would be the biggest lesson that I’ve learned throughout this relationship, just learning when to be still, when to not say anything, when to not do anything, and when to walk away. Yeah, biggest lesson for me is learning to be still, and that’s something that I feel like I could use with me in all aspects of my life and my career as a student, as a wife someday, as a mother someday, as a friend, as a mentor to somebody, when to be still, and the importance of that in all relationships.
How do you feel about dating or meeting new people?
I feel like a week ago, when I was still in my hoping phase of hoping that this was temporary between myself and my ex, I was like, yeah, I could talk to somebody, I could date somebody. But now that the reality of three years of my life not necessarily being wasted but being thrown away essentially, I don’t know if dating is going to be a thing for me right now. Maybe not for the rest of this year. I genuinely feel like courting someone is super important. I don’t want to waste my time. I tend to put myself in these vulnerable situations with men who I think are worth it. I also know that I’m not going to be talking to someone I don’t think is worth it.
I do know that the next person I do date or talk to, I want to be pretty certain that he is worth it. Even that in itself is a struggle. Honestly, dating, courting someone new literally scares me, just because the pain I feel dealing with a breakup, I’m not sure. I feel like I would have to get this cast off first before willing to jump off a bridge with somebody else again, because right now it’s still a matter of healing. I feel like if I start dating someone else, I’d be going into it with one foot and one arm, which isn’t healthy for either of us. I definitely want to be more stable, and I don’t know how long that’s going to take, because this is a different kind of pain. It’s different.
You mentioned in order for you to make that next step, the person would have to be worth it. How would you know? What are the qualifications of being worthy?
I don’t know. I feel like that’s something that I’m still trying to figure out, because if anybody would’ve asked me, I would’ve said that my ex was worth it. He’s worth the pain. He would’ve been worth me literally pouring all of myself into his cup, feeling empty. But he wasn’t. I don’t know if my judgment is even a thing to follow right now, in saying somebody’s worth it or isn’t worth it. But I will say that I’ll definitely be praying a lot more about whoever I decide to date, so I won’t be really moving on my own accord at that point.
I feel like I did a lot of stuff on my own in this relationship. While I love him, I wasn’t always asking God for guidance. I kind of always felt like, no, this is it for me, he is it for me. God knows it. I know it. But I feel like the next time around, the next person that I decide to court with, God would have to take a more active part in that. I would allow that to happen, just so I would have a little bit more guidance, because I don’t know what I’m doing. I won’t be able to know what I’m doing without that, so yeah.
Do you know what you want?
From a guy?
I have a lot of requirements. If I could pick the top three things that I would want from a guy right now, it would probably be loyalty, honesty, and consistency. Yeah, I would definitely need them. Those are the three things that ended my last relationship.
Do you believe in compromise? Maybe if somebody has two of the three?
Nah, I don’t. I compromised a lot with my ex, and I don’t know if I could do that again. I feel like maybe when I … No, even when I heal, I’m not compromising those three things. It’ll be like me walking into the same hole again, so no. Loyalty, honesty, and consistency, you can’t bring those three things to the table, then no. I’m not compromising it.
As you continue to move forward, with or without this person or just figuring out your next steps, happiness should always be at the core. How would you describe being happy, alone as well as in a relationship?
Honestly, happiness alone, I’m not sure what that is like yet. It’s actually a scary thought for me.
Why? Why are you afraid to be happy alone?
Not that I’m afraid to be happy alone, but I’m afraid that maybe I won’t find happiness alone. I don’t know. It’s a worry.
What is being happy to you?
I think happiness for me would be having a peace of mind. Having a peace of mind doesn’t mean that everything needs to be peaceful around me, or everything needing to be going perfectly. That’s not happiness for me. Happiness for me doesn’t mean not having struggles or roadblocks, but just having a peace of mind, knowing that I’m on the right track, knowing that I’m working hard, knowing that the people around me are working as hard as I am, and that they’re all loyal, they’re all honest. Yeah, it’s not even about the things I have, but for sure having a peace of mind. That’s happiness alone.
Happiness with someone else. If I could put my past relationship, the first two years of it, if I could get that into a picture, a photograph, I’d give it to you, because I was super happy, uncontrollably happy. Everybody knew it. When I pulled up and he pulled up, I was so happy. I don’t know if he was happy, but I was for sure happy. My relationship in the first two years, if I could get that in a picture, I’d give it to you, just so you could see it. I don’t really know how to put it into words, but I was definitely getting those three things. I was getting his loyalty, I was getting his honesty, and he was super consistent.
Which allowed you to be free.
Allowed me to have a peace of mind. I could go to sleep. I could wake up. I knew he had my back. I had his back. I was never afraid of anything. If something went wrong, I knew I could call him. I knew that he would listen to me. I knew he would be honest with me. He would tell me, “Nah, you’re fucking up.” Or, “Nah, you’re right. Don’t bend. Don’t fold.” Yeah. It would be him.