“We accept the love we think we deserve.”
Here we are in the month of February, where Cupid is busy, slinging arrows here and there in preparation for St. Valentine’s Day. Ah, to love and be loved in return.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower is an intense story, surrounding the life and times of a teenage boy. These are the times when love, lust and infatuation all seem to become one and the same. Infuse the other types of love – familial and friendship, and life becomes extraordinarily complex.
One of the most profound statements made in the book is “We accept the love we think we deserve.” When I was younger, my greatest fear was the fear of being alone. It was an intense feeling that couldn’t be shaken. I had spent the first six years of my life primarily alone, due to life’s circumstances. So, I knew what being alone was.
Ironically, in high school I didn’t chase after every boy who turned my head. Nope, I was looking for the one. I, like Charlie in The Perks of Being a Wallflower, was looking to fill that enigmatic something that just couldn’t quite be named. Maybe it was a void left by the absence of my father. Maybe it was the loss of one my best friends. Maybe it was just a need for a sense of self-worth in a society that had labeled me long before I even knew they existed. Maybe…just maybe it was a combination of all of that and more. Being a teenager isn’t easy; for girls or boys.
My first real, true and honest kiss was magical. I can remember it like it happened just last night. We had sat on the old wooden merry-go-round on the playground at the elementary school. It was December 1984. I had turned 16 that past summer, and I had met the magical kisser the following October. We talked for a long time that night, as we had many a nights before that. It was warmer than usual for December, so I hadn’t dressed for being outside for long. Big flakes of snow had begun to fall from the overcast sky. We stood up, and he placed his leather jacket around my shoulders, and then he kissed me. In that one moment the whole world stopped, and became much smaller, including only him and me. He was the one. I told you it was magical.
Love is many a splendored thing, blinding being the greatest of these when you are sixteen. One magical kiss and the gates to hell opened wide. I overlooked the fact that he was an alcoholic and a pothead. I overlooked every red flag that presented itself – because he loved me. He doted on me, and gave me everything I thought I didn’t have.
We broke up about a year and half later. He went back to the East Coast, and I went to on to college, where the loneliness got the best of me, and I called him, just to see how he was. It was magical again. We picked up just where we had left off. The next thing I knew, he surprised me and showed up on my doorstep in October. After all, he loved me.
We spent eight years making each other miserable. I was trying desperately to make him into the man I had dreamed to be the one. He was trying desperately to be who he was. The friction became too much for both of us. He lied, cheated, and fed his addictions. The more I pushed back about his behavior, the more he indulged himself, now blaming me. He never hit me, he didn’t have to - his words were enough.
The most common question people ask me about those eight years is why did I stay? The answer is because I had accepted the love I thought I deserved.
In The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Charlie and his friends learn that they were doing the same thing I was, only in a different way.
I’m not afraid to be alone anymore. In fact, I prefer to be alone. I don’t go looking for the one. I’m not sure the one really exists, but I maintain the hope that the one is looking for me.
WARNING: There are a lot of triggers in this book.