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Yesterday I wrote part 1 of day 3 of the 30-day writing challenge about my awkward first kiss experience and the painful experiences that stemmed from that. Today I will finish the writing prompt with part 2 about my first love, who just so happened to be a con artist out for more than just my heart.

My first love obviously wasn’t my first boyfriend or my first crush even and as I stated yesterday, definitely not my first kiss. But those who really know me will not at all be surprised when I tell you the name.

It was the one and only, Casey Fraites.

I’ve written about Casey one hundred thousand times over in the past. I explained about how much it hurt when he left me and I explained why, despite the fact that he hurt me, I still loved him.  I also detailed my frustrations with him and how I was “done trying” (which we all know was an outright lie.)

I met Casey online in 2011. At the time I was finishing up my last year of college as a dual English/Writing Arts major, working full time, and interning for a few companies like Bit Rebels in hopes of building up my writing portfolio and landing a decent job post-college. I wasn’t a fan of online dating at the time. I just got out of a terrible, abusive relationship with someone I met online and I thought that online dating was for the desperate/weak and I thought it was “fake”, mainly because that’s everything that my relationship with Alec has been previously.

But with Casey, it was all different. I didn’t meet him through online dating. I met him through my writing — my greatest joy, love, and passion in life. And I didn’t throw myself at him or he at me. Nothing was rushed or forced at all. We never had any intentions of having things work out like this…or at least, that was never my initial intention…

When I first “met” Casey I didn’t really see him as anything more than a fan. I was starting to write more and more for Bit Rebels at that time and I had a few articles go viral. I was definitely beginning to succeed in “getting my name out there”. A few of my fans followed me on social media. I didn’t really think anything of it.

But Casey was the only “fan”that really talked to me and seemed to really pay attention to me beyond just my Bit Rebels articles.

It was hardly anything at first, but then we got talking more and more frequently about more and more things. He was becoming a very good friend to me, despite never had met him in person. And I liked him. I liked him a lot. And I was beginning to sense that he liked me too. But I just dismissed it. I was 22 and Casey was 33. I also lived in NJ and Casey lived in Florida. It’s not like anything could ever happen between us…right?

Even though I knew I had feelings for Casey, I didn’t think it made any sense to act on them or that anything would ever come from it, so I did what any other 22 year old would do…I left myself open and available for  anyone else.

In the Fall of 2011, I found my someone else.

I’d rather not say the name of that person because it’s someone who is still a casual friend of mine and that person is engaged and expecting a child with someone else right now. I don’t want to focus on our past and cause any drama or anything. I’ll just say what’e necessary to say here: we dated for a month. We had SO much in common, but when it came to our morals and where we were in life, we clashed. Probably because I was 23 and he was 32. He lived and experienced so much in life and I was just a kid. So we broke up.

Breaking up with he who shall not be named was the best decision we could have made, but the timing was awful. We broke up less than a week before Thanksgiving and it seemed to have come from nowhere. I wasn’t really expecting it. While I’m fine with it now and we’re sort of friends, I was pretty pissed about the breakup when it first happened. Who dumps their girlfriend unexpectedly right before the holidays? (Okay, lots of people do, sadly, but it doesn’t make it any less awful…)

Casey came to my rescue right after I broke up with he-who-should-not-be-named.He backed off a bit when we were dating. I think he was jealous and a bit hurt by my actions, but he’d never come right out and say that. How could he? I mean, he lived in Florida and I lived in NJ and I was single and free to date whoever I wanted, right? Age was no longer an issue…he-who-should-not-be-named was about the same age.

I missed Casey when I dated he-who-should-not-be-named. Casey and I were beginning to talk on a nightly basis and were growing really close. It was never like that in my relationship with he-who-should-not-be-named. I wished he was Casey the whole time, if I’m being honest with myself.

I remember a few days after announcing my breakup, I admitted to someone, I’m fine. It sucks and I wish it could’ve waited until after the holidays…but he’s not Casey. I want Casey. God, why does he have to live 1,000 miles away?

When you love someone though, distance really doesn’t matter, even if it is 1,000 miles.

With my newly single status, Casey and I were free. Free to feel whatever we wanted. Free to talk whenever, wherever, and however we wanted.

We’d talk throughout the day and every night was like our “alone time”. We talked about everything. I’d vent about my frustrations working as a cashier at Walmart. He’d tell me about the great things he was grilling. We’d talk about the future, all of the places we wanted to go, things we wanted to see. I’d talk about my writing and he’d talk about his film. We had one big thing in common – we both loved social media and SEO. We both wanted to work in the field.

Casey seemed perfect to me. He was everything I ever wanted in a man, and I was suddenly falling in love with him.

I was going through some hard times in my life, too, and Casey was always there to listen. He was always there to make it better. Often times, he seemed like the only one that could make it better.

By March of 2012 I knew I was madly, wildly, and passionately in love with him.

I don’t remember exactly how it happened, but on April Fool’s Day – April 1, 2012, we made it official. He was my boyfriend. And I told him I loved him. He said he couldn’t say it back but I didn’t care. He just was too scared. He didn’t want to hurt me. But I knew how I felt. I loved him. I loved him with all my heart and soul and every fiber of my being. I loved him more than anything in the world. I didn’t have to know him IRL to know how I felt.

We started dating on April Fool’s Day. It was the perfect metaphor for our entire relationship. The joke really was on me. Now I think I will forever hate April Fool’s Day. Casey ruined it for me.

Casey loved to travel and would do it often. I was beyond thrilled when I found out he planned to travel to NJ to see me. He managed to book a flight and a hotel for my birthday week…the week of May 8, 2012. His first day in NJ would actually be on my birthday.

My parents were a bit less than thrilled by the news. My friends were excited for me though. They knew it was completely insane, but they also knew how serious I was about Casey and that I really did love him. Some of my friends even though it was oddly romantic – like the crazy kind of love story you’d only find in a Shakespeare play. They rooted for us from a distance.

There were a few complication with Casey’s travel plans. Everything with his rental car kind of fell through, so he didn’t have a car the entire time. I didn’t have a license or drive either, so we relied on my parents to drive us around. We were kind of limited on where we could go for those reasons. Casey also booked a hotel in Cherry Hill…a little far from my house and in a high-traffic area, to make things worst.

Despite some changes in plans and unexpected, unfortunate events, my birthday still ended up being okay. I met Casey for the first time and he was everything I thought he would be — exactly as he said he’d be online. I’ll admit I was a little disappointed that he didn’t buy me a gift or flowers or even a card for my birthday, but I tried to dismiss it and just tell myself that him being there for a few days was my gift — the hotel, flight, etc. had to be expensive, and I didn’t pay him anything at all for it.

Casey spent three days with me in NJ. They were simple, but at the time, they were the best three days of my life. On the first day we went to the mall and then my favorite diner. We spent most of the time just talking and I remember we sang and danced to “I Want It That Way” by the Backstreet Boys when it came on the radio. My parents didn’t like Casey. When we went out to dinner, a war almost broke out between my dad and Casey. He said something stupid my dad didn’t like. I never knew what it was. I didn’t have my cochlears and couldn’t hear well at the time, but I could see the look on my parents face and knew it wasn’t good. At all. My mom gritted her teeth and told my dad to shut up because it was my birthday and she didn’t want him to ruin it and she also knew how much Casey meant to me.

For the rest of the time, my dad tolerated Casey, but he never liked him. He’d drive us back and forth for our “dates”, but he was never particularly happy about it especially since it meant getting stuck in heavy Cherry Hill traffic and Casey always managed to be late. How someone could be late without a car living in just a hotel for three days is beyond me…but considering the type of person I later discovered him to be…maybe it’s not so strange after all…

On the second day Casey and I went to a book signing for some of my professor’s at Rowan and listened to them speak. Casey was fascinated by Rowan. It was a University, which I get the impression he never went to before…he’s only been to like trade schools, community colleges, etc. He bought me a Florida state shirt, too. It was like we were exchanging pieces of each other. I didn’t even care that it was baby pink, a color I’m not usually particularly found of. I liked it because it was like a piece of him, and wearing it would make me feel like he was with  me, even when he was more than 1,000 miles away.

On our last night we went to the movies and then had Applebees for dinner. He held me so tightly when we said goodbye and promised he’d be back for his birthday which was less than 2 months away.He kissed me on the cheek. It was the most action I’ve gotten from him. I tried to kiss him prior, but he wouldn’t let me. Sometimes we’d hold hands, but even that was ehhh. He didn’t want me to touch him much, which was kind of weird because I was technically his girlfriend and he lived 1,000 miles away…it wasn’t like I was going to see him again anytime soon…

Casey said he had a great time with me. He told his mom (he still lived at home) all about me. He thanked me for being a great host (which was kind of weird because I mean I thought I was more than that…I was supposed to be his girlfriend, right?)

When he went back home though, things with us started to drastically change.

He started interning for a digital marketing company and he went back to school, or so he claimed. He suddenly wasn’t available for me anymore.

Our conversations got less and less frequent.

Then they stopped altogether.

The next thing I knew, Casey was gone.

I was deleted from Facebook. Unfollowed on Twitter and Instagram.

He wouldn’t answer my texts.

I had a nervous breakdown. I went insane.

He never told me he was breaking up with me. He never gave me any explanation at all.

I found out he was fired from his internship. I tried to reach out to his friends, but they didn’t know what was going on, either. Some of my friends said he sounded like he might be suicidal, which scared me to death.

I blew up his phone. I tried to reach out to him on social media. I blogged. I emailed him.

I was so confused. I was so hurt. I was so lost. I was angry.

My anger prevailed the most at first. I would scream at him through caps lock about how screwed up his actions were and how he knew it was wrong and how I deserved an explanation. Then I’d apologize profusely for getting so angry. I just wanted to know what I did wrong to make him leave like that.

A few weeks later, he emailed me. It was a very short email. It basically said, “I’m sorry but this isn’t working. I’m busy and this distance thing sucks.”

I begged him not to leave me. I told him I could handle the distance, we could work it out. But it was useless.

I went completely insane.

I destroyed everything. The shirt he brought me? Shredded it. Destroyed the toy he bought my cat. Ripped up and destroyed all of the pictures. When I was done I layed in the middle of my bedroom floor with all of the destroyed things around me and cried. Hyperventilated. I felt like I was dying. I wanted to die. I imagined death to be a pleasure compared to the pain I was feeling.

I didn’t have any more physical products to destroy, so I spent the next few months destroying myself. I was horribly depressed. I just wanted to die. I was living for Casey. Without Casey in my life, how was life possibly worth living? I was so sure he was the one for me. God put him in my life so randomly, I believed it had to be a reason. He was meant to be my husband. I saw it…but why couldn’t he? He was making a huge mistake.

I tried so hard to get over him. I did so many things I am not proud of. And it never worked. Because there was only one Casey Fraites. But he was gone. I lost him and I had no idea why or how I lost him. I had no idea where I went wrong. But I spent every waking moment of my life over analyzing everything I ever said to him, trying to find out. I never came up with anything.

I couldn’t and wouldn’t give up on him or give up on us. Every couple of months, I’d try again to send him another e-mail or Facebook message or Tweet, hoping to get a response. But I never did.

That is, until December 31, 2012. Just a few short hours before the new year.

Suddenly, I got an email. Apologizing for everything. Wanting to be friends again. Begging for my forgiveness.

You should never start a new relationship on April Fool’s Day. That was my first mistake with Casey. You should also never take an ex back or forgive one or talk to one for the first time in over 7 months on New Year’s Eve. That was my second mistake.

Everyone tried to warn me that I was making a huge mistake. My mom was furious with me. “THE MAN DESTROYED YOU. IS THIS REALLY WHAT YOU WANT IN 2013? IS THIS REALLY HOW YOU WANT TO START A NEW YEAR — MAKING LAST YEAR’S MISTAKES? YOU WEREN’T GOOD ENOUGH FOR AN EXPLANATION FOR THE LAST 7 MONTHS, NOW IT’S NEW YEARS EVE AND HE’S PROBABLY BEEN DRINKING AND HE WANTS TO APOLOGIZE? SCREW THAT.”

But I didn’t listen. I never do. The heart wants what it wants, and at that moment, my heart wanted Casey.

I told him it would take time, but I’d do my best to forgive him. I knew I still loved him with all of my heart and soul, but I was still so hurt from before and terrified of getting hurt again.

We’d talk. We followed each other on Twitter and Instagram again. It took me awhile to be ready for Facebook. We didn’t talk nearly as much as we did before. I was scared.

I felt like he was playing games with me and screwing with my help. He was horribly manipulative. One day I thought he loved me and that we were getting back together. The next day I thought he couldn’t care less about me and I was ready to permantly swear him off.

I went off on him and told him I was totally done. I couldn’t stand the confusion and the mind games anymore.

In less than 24 hours, I wrote him a heart-felt apology and begged him to take me back. He did. And promised to make more of an effort.

Actually, he took it a step further. He made travel plans. He was going to come to NJ to see me during spring break in April. I was totally on board with it, but I knew better than to tell anyone. NO ONE would support this, especially not after what he did to me the last time.

But then the plans changed. Casey didn’t have quite enough money to get to NJ. He’d meet me a little more than halfway – he’d come to D.C..

I never been to D.C. before. It wasn’t the closest place in the world for me, but compared to Florida, it was. I could get there by train. I could do it. No one would support it…so it would have to be a secret. I planned it all out. I had a friend volunteer to get me to the train station and help me to meet Casey there. I wrote a note for my parents to leave on my desk explaining where I’d be, for how long, and why I was doing it. “I know you don’t understand…but I love him and I have to do this. He’s the one. I know it. One day this will all make sense.” I wrote in my letter.

The trip never ended up happening. Casey told me his grandmom was sick and he had to stay home to take care of things and help his mom. But I didn’t buy it. I was so mad. I was so hurt. And I was so tired of hurting. I knew it was time to permantly write him off. But it wasn’t easy.

My mom did find the note. She wasn’t pleased.

She said she never ever would have allowed it. She knew more about Casey than I did. He wasn’t the great hero I thought he was.

Casey went bankrupt many, many times in his life. He was the business owner for many different businesses  which always failed. He worked many jobs, but none for ever more than a year (most were for less than 3 months at a time). He also went to many different schools.

Casey was a professional liar.

He was a con artist, and I was his victim.

Casey scammed me.

But he didn’t steal money from me or anything like that.

What he did was far worst.

He pretended to be the man of my dreams.He studied me as I wrote for Bit Rebels and he got to know me and what I want in life.

And he became that person for me. He was a phenomenal actor.

But it wasn’t real. None of it was.

I fell in love with the most beautiful lie in the world.

Oh, and Casey’s grandmom wasn’t sick. He actually did something huge in his life the weekend we were supposed to go away in DC.

Casey got engaged. To another random, hopeless girl from Ohio.

She didn’t live all that far from me, compared to the distance between Casey and I. She didn’t even look that much different and her age was closer to mine than his. She was very similar to me.

And I don’t believe he loves her, even though they’ve now been married for over a year. I don’t see love in him at all. And I feel so bad for that girl. Because I was her. But she’s even more far gone than I was. And her situation will be much more costly to get out of.

I didn’t necessarily get catfished from Casey. He was physically who he said he was, just not emotionally or personally.

But what happened to me was worst than being catfished. I fell in love with the man of my dreams — someone who was so perfect for me in every way possible…except for the fact that he didn’t exist. He wasn’t real.

But that person exists in my mind and I’m so in love with him. He is the standard in which all else will be compared to.

I have dated since it all went down with Casey and I’ve been in love with someone since him. I had my longest relationship that lasted for over a year with someone else that I loved very much. But I was never really sure if I loved him as much as I loved Casey, if I’m being completely honest. It was definitely close, but with Casey I felt this strange sense of hope that we could conquer the world together. I’m not sure I always felt that with Larry…sometimes I felt a bit of doubt that we could ever be like that.

It’s so frustrating. To have this feeling, to have this person, in my mind and in my heart that I’m in love with…who doesn’t even exist. I am holding out for the person who can make me feel what Casey made me feel…or something even better…when what I felt wasn’t even real. It’s probably not right to compare everyone to Casey…but I can’t help but do it. I can’t even explain it. It’s just how it is with me.

I can only hope and pray that one day, the “REAL” Casey will come around.

It won’t be the first love in my life, but maybe, if I’m lucky, it will be genuine, real, and the last love of my life.

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