I'd been with UConn for almost a decade. It was nice to be around someone famous. Someone who had been successful. Someone I could look up to and hope to be like someday, with his BCS bowl and all those basketball national titles and his College Cup and his Super Regional and his field hockey and his ice bus.
But you know, he was really mean to me. Not like hitting me or anything like that. Just cruel. Any time I tried to make a name for myself, he'd ruin it with a buzzer beater, or he'd sit back and watch me fail. I'd make a bad decision or have some awful luck. One time I even fell apart because I forgot to pack hand lotion. Instead of feeling bad and trying to pick me up and support me, he'd laugh and make fun of me. Tell me I'd never be good enough for him.
It got so bad that I guess I believed everything he told me about myself. It was such a dark period of my life. I didn't know if I would ever get out. But then things started to pick up for me. Little things. I got some good new coaches. I had a little bit of success, first in one sport, then in some others. I started to feel better. Hopeful. Positive. I realized I would probably do just fine on my own. And I wasn't going to listen to some bully tell me I couldn't do it anymore.
I called UConn and told him to meet me at our favorite lunch spot.
As soon as the glasses of water arrived, I started my speech, the one I had rehearsed in the mirror. "I'm tired of you treating me like dirt," I said. "We're through. Maybe I won't ever be as famous as you or as rich as you or as successful as you, but I don't care. I know I can do well enough to feel good about myself. I'm not letting you rule my life anymore. It's over."
UConn was quiet for a second. Then he tried everything in the book to get me to stay. He said I didn't know what I was saying. He said I'd be sorry for leaving him. He said he'd given me everything I had and he could take it all away. He said I was a nobody before him and I'd be a nobody after him. I wasn't buying any of it.
Finally he got desperate. He stood up and pointed a finger at me with one of those gaudy championship rings he always wore everywhere. "That's OK. You can leave. I don't need you. I already moved on to a civil conflict with your hotter friend. With all respect and admiration, she's better than you anyway. Good luck, toots." He threw down a wad of money on the table and walked out.