A good deal of time ago, I fell in love. She was a beautiful girl, full of fire and with the hair to match. We both had our problems, but being together seemed to fix everything that was wrong in our lives. Before I met her, I had a generally dismal outlook on life, but all of that changed when I was around her. Life was flowers and sunshine.

I was in school, and doing well, but not great. Most of the time, the girl came before the homework. The girl came before almost everything, in fact. Friends began to drift away. School got worse. I still had the girl, though. Flowers and sunshine.

After a year, my relationship with the girl began to degrade. We had shared many of the same interests, but my dedication to some of these interests became less and less. I decided I'd rather study computers than theatre. This made the girl somewhat angry, so I tried to continue with theatre and do computers on the side.

Eventually, more choices were made to keep the girl happy. These were big choices, the kind that tend to affect your life for long amounts of time. I moved out of my parent's house because she didn't feel we had enough freedom there. I got a full time job because she would complain that I never had money (which, I suppose is true... but only because I was spending it all on her).

Eventually, my relationship with the girl became sour. I'd finally given up theatre altogether and moved to computers. She'd gotten a job also, and it was difficult to find time to see each other. We went through a horribly painful breakup. Dirt and darkness.

For a year, I gave up on women. I had been so perfectly convinced that she was "the one" that I couldn't see myself with anyone else. I talked with her occasionally by email or by phone, tried to keep in contact in the chance that there might still be an us.

Then, she decided she wanted to start spending time with me again. Joy! Happiness! We started doing things together, and I thought that maybe there was a possibility...

...until I found out that she had been dating my roomate (and for a good while, my best friend) behind my back. Disgusted, I moved back in with my parents, away from the whole situation. I was determined to start anew.

Through all of the pain, hate, and other nastiness, I discovered I was happier than I had been in 3 years. 3 years it took me to realize that I had not been living my own life. 3 years it took me to realize that behind the flowers and sunshine was decay. Love had twisted my world, and now that I was seeing with my own eyes, making my own decisions, I was quite disoriented. I wasn't quite sure how I had gotten where I was.

Love is a wonderful thing. If it weren't, we wouldn't all be searching for it constantly. But it shouldn't come at the cost of living. This I've learned the hard way.

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