This is part four in the story of how Terry and I ended up together. This carnival has been a lot of fun, and I've really enjoyed reading all the love stories. To catch the beginning of the carnival, go here.
To read the beginning of my story you can go to:
Part 1 or Part 2 or Part 3.
So I had gotten through one date with Terry, but the agony of nerves just about had me convinced to embrace the single life. I told my sister there was no spark, and then I turned Terry down the next three times he asked me out. I didn't even use an excuse, just a straightforward "no, thank you." But I was beginning to feel guilty. He was a really nice guy. And I did want to get married to someone eventually. While I struggled inwardly, a mutual friend asked me why I kept turning him down.
"I don't know," I answered. "I just--I don't know." Clear and concise. You can't get much better than that.
"If he asks you again would you say yes or turn him down again?"
I hesitated. "If he were to ask again, that's really persistence. I guess I'd have to say yes, wouldn't I?" I felt safe in my answer. After all, what guy would ask a fourth time?
I was totally humiliated to find out later that the mutual friend told him, "Jill says to ask again." At any rate, he did and I said yes and that was the start of our dating. About a month later, Terry started hinting around that he loved me. Well I had determined a long time ago that I would not say those three words except to the guy I was going to marry. And I didn't love Terry. Of course, I was basing my opinions on the fact that I had only know him for a month and you couldn't possibly know if you loved someone in a month. I never actually analyzed or addressed whatever feelings I actually had. (Did I mention that I ended up married in spite of myself?) So he would say I love you, and I would answer that I liked him a lot. Or that he didn't know what love was. Or I'd make some silly off-the-wall observation. Before school was out for the summer we did exchange class rings and agree to go steady. That seemed safe to me. Terry was going to be working as a counselor at camp all summer and I was going home to work an office job. We exchanged letters through the summer and he came to visit for a week during July. I felt both thrilled and confused with every letter. I didn't know what to do with all these emotions swirling around in me. I enjoyed our week together and then cheerfully waved him off when he left to go back to camp. We planned for him to come back the week before school started and stay a few days with us. Then we would go back to school together.
Terry showed up earlier than we planned, and somehow that threw me completely. I walked in after work to find him already in my mom's living room. And suddenly I didn't want to be there. The whole relationship just made me completely confused and I didn't want any part of it anymore. I knew I couldn't break up with him while he was staying with my parents, but I determined that I would end this as soon as we got back to school. In the meantime, I would simply make sure we were never alone together.
The evening he came we went to prayer meeting where I saw my married sister. She asked me how things were going with the boyfriend. I don't know if it was the shrug, the half-hearted "Okay, I guess", or the near tears, but somehow she figured out that something was wrong. She quickly hustled me into another room and asked what was going on. All the confusion and fear I had over our relationship came pouring out. I ended with saying that I thought it was best to just break things off. My sister started her advice with a keen observation.
"Well you can't break up with him while he's here."
"And you can't break up with him right after you get to school."
Now wait a minute--
After some arguing my sister convinced me that the first few days of school, with registration for classes and getting settled in, were hard enough. It would be cruel to break up with someone then. She made me promise to wait until we'd been at school for two weeks before I broke it off. I wasn't too happy about this. I'd already made my decision and I wanted to get on with it. But I agreed to the two weeks. Back at school, I still kept Terry at arms' length. If we hung out it was usually in a group, and I tried to keep from having any personal conversations. I was determined to put in my time and then be done with the whole thing.
Obviously a blind man could have seen that I had a problem. Terry finally asked me about it one afternoon. I hemmed and hawed, but finally all my confused feelings came pouring out. That I didn't know what I wanted and I felt pressured and I wasn't sure that I would ever love him and I even told him about my promise to my sister. "I'm just so confused, and I think we should break up, and I didn't want to talk to you about this right now, and I feel really bad because I dumped all this on you and now I have to go to work."
It was true. I had about a minute and a half to get upstairs to the office where I was working part time that semester. "It's okay," Terry told me, looking stunned. "Go on to work and we'll talk about this after supper."
He looked as miserable as I felt. This was what I wanted. Why did I feel worse now than I did before? "I feel like I just slapped you in the face."
He shrugged and gave a little smile. "I feel like I've been slapped in the face. But it's okay. Go on to work. We'll deal with this after supper."
Tune in next Monday to read Part 5!