My assignment was to try to journal every day and say everything I feel like saying – whether it’s an unsent letter to Schmoopy (or anyone else) or just my thoughts and feelings. There are no concrete rules, just a commitment to write. Today I’m allowing myself to go ahead and say some things that feel bad and wrong to put into writing. The admission isn’t one I’m proud of, but it’s the truth. And if I’m not going to be truthful here, then this whole “tool” to help me is pointless and won’t help at all. So today, even though I’m embarrassed about my behavior, I’m going to let some things out. Then hopefully I can put this part in my past forever.
The confusing truth is that whether or not either of us want to admit it, for much of the time we were talking we weren’t just friends. But we were also not more than friends. We weren’t anything to each other, but clearly we were also not nothing. You were special to me and I was to you. I know this because you told me so. You told me many times how much you cared for me. If we were just friends, you wouldn’t have felt that twinge of jealousy when you thought my bucket list was something that it wasn’t. If we were just friends, you would have been as relaxed with me in front of Mrs.Schmoopy as you were when you were home alone. If we were just friends, you wouldn’t have encouraged me to send you those pictures. You loved them. You told me so. You told me you didn’t think you’d ever wanted anyone in the way that you wanted me. You told me you couldn’t get me out of your mind. Yes, that was in the first couple of months, but you said those things. And I think you meant them. We quickly became very close, but only when you were completely alone. Otherwise we had to pretend like we were merely co-workers because you were certain that no one in your world at home or at work would understand why we were so close. And I got it. I understood why it had to be that way. I was in. I just wanted you in my life. Obviously we both knew we shouldn’t have ever been more than friends. We knew that, but we were. We shouldn’t have been more than friends because we’re both in loving relationships of our own.
I can’t speak for you, but I know that I rationalized our attraction because we knew it was all a fantasy. It was fun and exciting. It was a hot escape from our everyday routines. It would never cross the line in “real life”. In the midst of playful remarks and photo exchanges and stories and plans I found myself really caring for you more than I ever intended to. I didn’t want anything in either of our real lives to change, but I looked forward to talking to you more than anyone else during that time. All of this even though I’m in a relationship with the man I love more than anyone else on this planet. I’m completely in love with him, attracted to him, and crazy about him. All of that makes everything I’ve said prior to that sentence complete nonsense. I know that. But it’s all true.
We went to each other to laugh, vent and validate ourselves by soaking up the kind words exchanged. We went to each other to share our passions and dreams and even our fantasies and secret desires. And sometimes we even shared tears. Granted, 98% of them were mine because I was going through a whole lot physically (and as a result of that, also emotionally). But you cried, too. Once in the airport when I was being a compete witch and once in the parking lot of Panera Bread. We had talked for 3 hours and had one of the most precious conversations I’ve ever had with anyone in my entire life. You told me you felt the tears coming when you thought about how happy you were that we had worked things out and we were going to be in this thing for the long haul. We were finally going to put a definition and boundary on what we were: friends. We were going to force ourselves to stick to that script and no longer play with fire. It wasn’t worth any consequences that might come along if we were ever found out, and our friendship meant more than all of that anyhow. You were so real with me and you told me you weren’t that way with anyone in your life. You actually told me you had never been so open with anyone ever. There was so much love exchanged in that conversation and we both knew the decision we had made about the boundary of friendship was the right thing to do.
So there we were. I really did want to figure out how to settle into this nebulous existence of being your “sometimes” best bud, but nothing more. I wanted to be okay with being the one you would talk to when she wasn’t around, or when you were bored or annoyed with people at work, or when you just wanted to laugh. But still, I carried those “not lover” but “not just friends” feelings with me. I wasn’t able to shut them off immediately. I thought it was purely physical desire at the very beginning, but the emotional side of things snuck up on me way faster than I thought they would. Because let’s face it – when two people meet and connect over the ways they feel they’ve been missing, it’s very hard to turn back. You and I shared moments of closeness that don’t occur between people who are just friends. Especially if that’s what we intended to stay in the long run. But I lost track of our intention. Of both of our intentions.
When I said I was in and that I wanted only the friendship, too, I meant it. I really did. But here’s the thing – I struggled to find a happy medium between two paradoxical facts. I really was glad to know you valued me enough to want to protect and preserve a friendship with me before anything stupid ruined it. I wanted to be one of your best friends. But yes, sometimes I wanted more. Sometimes I missed the flirting and the pictures and excitement. It was a really difficult situation to navigate. I tried so hard. I fought so hard. I really did. I wanted the friendship, I just didn’t know how to get from Point A to Point B very gracefully or quickly. If I would ever try to walk a fine line during this period of time you were respectfully and cautiously receptive. When this would happen we’d get off the phone and I’d be filled with renewed happiness and excitement while I realize now that you were likely filled with regret when we hung up. There was a disconnect between how we were both processing things and moving forward. You were cautious and aware. I tried to be those things, but emotions and excitement seemed to override good sense at times. And then as quickly as I’d get those happy feelings the burning passion was soon replaced with feelings of despair and sometimes even tears when I’d feel you retreating out of guilt. I’d wonder what I’d done wrong or why I wasn’t enough. And those were my issues. They weren’t yours at all. My feelings were and are my own responsibility. And in my mind even those times I felt safe. I felt in control of my emotions because I knew we’d never cross that line. But there was no way for you to know that for sure. That had to be so hard on you.
I complicated our relationship in ways I wish I hadn’t. And getting over whatever we were (nothing, but something) is such a confusing and difficult process. Especially since I singlehandedly wrecked everything in a brief moment of emotional nonsense, complete irresponsibility and a lack of self-control. I’m sorry from the bottom of my heart for my behavior. I wish I could go back and change it.
I don’t know if anything I’ve written makes any sense, but in my head it’s cohesive and meaningful. I really did want the friendship. I allowed my insecurity and fear to take me to a place I shouldn’t have. Then I said things I never dreamed I would say (even though I didn’t mean them at all even as I was typing them into my phone). I’m a really sentimental person. At the end of every relationship I find myself looking back and longing for what was lost, what will never occur again, and I grieve over the separation. But as much as it sucks and as deeply as it hurts, I know I have the opportunity to take what we went through and come out on the other side of it as a better person for the experience. I don’t know how to get there and I don’t know when I’ll get there, but I have faith that I’ll grow from it. God’s refining fire can be so painful, and yet sometimes that’s what it takes to bring about a heart change. Clearly I needed to be refined. And I desperately want to be more like Him. I know I wasn’t reflecting His holiness and His peace and His love by acting the way that I did. I take full responsibility for where we ended up. And I’m sorry.
In case it isn’t obvious, I still miss you.
Currently playing in the soundtrack of my mind: We Are Young by Fun. Because I just talked about refining fire. Then this part of that song popped into my head:
Tonight, we are young. So let’s set the world on fire! We can burn brighter than the suuuuuuun…