So, last week, I was talking about how I always manage to push everyone in my life away; I’ve become an expert by this point. I don’t know why I do it …
Actually, maybe I do. I remember very vividly a day in the sixth grade when I told a boy in my class that I liked him. Everyone else in my grade seemed to be getting into relationships – well, if you can call “saying you’re boyfriend/girlfriend and then never talking to the other person again” a relationship – so, of course, I wanted to be a part of that. But when I told this boy how I felt, he completely rejected me. I guess, from that moment on, I’ve always just lived with the mentality that it’s better to show none of your feelings than to have those feelings exploited and made fun of.
I’ve definitely noticed myself doing this in the last couple of years especially, when I’ve been “talking” to guys (don’t even get me started on the whole electronic, “modern” version of dating; that topic could be a post in and of itself!). We’ll be joking and having fun and then he’ll try to get serious and I completely shut down. I hate that I do this, but I don’t know how to turn it off. I don’t know how to let myself open up to someone when every time I’ve tried to in the past, I’ve gotten completely screwed over and humiliated. I am notorious for letting in people who turn out to have had no right to know those things about me. Here’s just the latest example of my complete idiocy:
Being the naive little girl that I am, I thought I had finally found one of the few good ones left in the new guy who sat in front of me in my Grade 12 Religion class. He was cute and smart and outgoing and he seemed to not have a care in the world about what anyone thought of him. Of course, for the first few weeks I was way too shy to say anything to him, but gradually, as the weeks passed by, we started talking and getting closer. At this point, I refused to admit my feelings for him – even to myself – and claimed we were just friends. Then, one night, I was working at my pizzeria job and he came in with his new girlfriend – so that settled the “friends vs. more than that” debate for me.
Over the next six months, their relationship got more serious and I continued to watch from the sidelines and convince myself that I was okay with it, that I never really had any feelings for him in the first place … and then, we went for a drive one night and ended up staying out until 2am just talking, and that spark inside of me was reignited. They were having problems and I basically talked him into ending things with her (which seems so much worse now that it’s typed on the screen in front of me). I didn’t think anything I had said had actually gotten through to him – he defended her actions the whole night – but over the next couple weeks, I saw little changes in our relationship. He started to tell me things about himself and his life before I met him, and he consulted me every time he and his girlfriend had an argument. I started to let myself admit my feelings for him and feel a hope that had never been there before.
And then she went on vacation with her family for two weeks and that time apart made him see that their relationship was unhealthy (I mean, c’mon, he knew that she was thinking about cheating on him and did nothing about it!). We spent a lot of time together in those two weeks and he told me that he had liked me from the beginning but didn’t think that I had felt the same (because I stubbornly kept all my feelings to myself!) so he had moved on – like I’ve said, refusing to let my guard down has not exactly worked in my favour. When she got back, he ended things with her, and I thought I would have been happier when he told me. The idea of it had made me giddy for weeks, but now that it had actually happened, I felt more confused and uncertain than ever.
He started trying to get serious with me, and I suggested that we wait awhile before we started anything because he had just gotten out of a relationship – and I was trying to buy myself some time to figure out how I truly felt about him. Had the fact that he had been unavailable to me for all that time intensified the feelings I actually had for him? Was the fact that he had technically broken up with his girlfriend for me clouding my judgement?
I continued to dodge his attempts to take me out over the next couple of weeks. I told him that I was scared that, if we did start a relationship and something went wrong, then I would lose his friendship – which was something I had come to depend on. I always said that I would much rather have my best friend than get into a relationship and risk that, and he was always very good at convincing me that would never happen.
And then the “Prom Debacle of 2016” happened, and I lost everything I cared about in the span of less than twelve hours. We went to prom together, and it was amazing and fun and easy – exactly like every girl dreams about. We went back to my house afterwards to get ready for the after-party and we were taking pictures and hanging out with my family and laughing and I finally started to believe that maybe we could do this; maybe he could fit into my life and not break my heart …
Then we arrived at the party and he completely changed. He had told my parents less than an hour before that he didn’t drink, but as soon as we got there and he realized it was open-bar, that changed (I don’t care that he drank, I just don’t understand why he would lie about it). He got a couple of drinks into him and decided that Prom Party in the quarry was the perfect time to have a deep heart-to-heart with me – I just wanted to relax and have a good time for a night! He kept asking me to open up and tell him things about myself, but that night was not the right time. It got to be so much that on one of his trips back to the bar, I made a beeline for the exit and called my parents to come get me.
They came, and I started getting texts asking where I was. I understand that he was worried about where I had gone, alone and in the dark (and I loved him for that), but at that point, I was so irritated about how the night had gone, that I snapped at him and said he could find his own way home (which I know was bad, and I felt terrible afterwards, but what can I say? I do idiotic, impulsive things sometimes).
I texted him the next morning and apologized for how I had left but I made it clear that I wasn’t sorry for actually leaving. He told me he understood where I was coming from, so I thought we were okay. But school rolled around on Monday and I couldn’t have been more wrong. He completely ignored me the entire day – even though we sat right next to each other in class – and would not give me the time of day when I tried to talk to him. I went home that night and typed out a huge message explaining what I had been feeling, saying again that I would rather have him as my best friend than my boyfriend if it meant I wouldn’t lose him. He responded with something along the lines of “I understand, but I just need time”. I was disappointed that things had fallen apart so quickly but I said I would give him whatever time he needed … and then I woke up the next day to find that I had been deleted and blocked from all of his social media. I thought this was a pretty immature move and decided right then that I would be just fine without that kind of person in my life, that I could get through the next month of school and then never have to face him again. It broke my heart that I had somehow messed things up with us so completely, but I couldn’t keep apologizing for the same thing … especially when I had no way to contact him.
So, I finished my last year of high school with no friends, just praying for graduation day to arrive. I walked out that night with my diploma with every intention of never looking back – even when he made eye contact with me across our senior class in that church, I refused to cave, no matter how much I wanted to. No matter how many nights I wanted to call him and beg him to forgive me, I went on with my life – without him. I started my summer job and kept myself busy with family and planning for the fall.
And then, late one night, two months later, I was babysitting and I got a text saying “hi, how are you?” I played the game at first, I responded politely, even though all I wanted to do was curse him out for completing cutting me out of his life when I made a mistake, for turning his back on me when he had promised me the exact opposite. However, the conversation took quite the turn when he started telling me that I was a shitty person and I had turned my back on all my friends when they had only ever had my best interests in mind (I know I could never write down all the reasons that that statement is incorrect, but let’s just say there was a lot of back-stabbing and lies in my high school clique). I am not the kind of person that can just sit back and keep my mouth shut when something like this is said to me, so I did lose my cool. And, of course, when I get mad, the water-works start, so that was fun crying alone in another person’s house. I understand that he was hurt because I hadn’t reciprocated his feelings, but it baffled and hurt me that this person who I had been so sure of could turn out to be someone who could say those things to their supposed best friend (no matter what kind of a falling-out we had).
The following is the last thing I ever said to him and, though the whole situation makes me more sad and angry than even I can comprehend, I will forever be sorry for the fact that my inability to open up led to such a tragic end to one of my favourite friendships…
“You took this so much farther than it needed to go. You see, the difference between you and I is that I never intentionally tried to hurt you. You could have just left it alone instead of saying good morning to everyone in English except me or having everyone sign your yearbook (even the people you weren’t friends with!) in front of me or blocking me on Facebook or waiting two months to message me just to tell me how shitty of a person I am. I noticed all those things because you were the one friendship that I actually cared about losing. But you did all those things because you knew they would hurt me. And you succeeded. I did believe that I was in the wrong and that I should try to fix things, but you’ve shown your true colours tonight. So I’m glad I don’t have to live with the regret of having dated someone who isn’t the type of person that I can respect.”
I have been going over the conversation from that night for weeks, the conversation that I cried myself to sleep over, and it makes me sad that he didn’t turn out to be the person that I thought he was, and it makes me angry that I can’t seem to get out of this cycle of choosing guys that turn into completely different people the second I do something that they don’t like. Mostly, that night makes me question myself – maybe it was all my fault, maybe I did lead him on (no matter how unintentionally). The only good thing that did come out of that night was that I realized that I do need to work on myself before I can let anyone else in. I want to be the best version of myself for the next person that I let into my heart, or I don’t think I’ll make it out in one piece.