The Unrequited Love Saga Pt 4

Red has always been a good color on me. I chose it to be festive, of course, also appreciating the way the shirt complimented my figure. It was a Christmas party, after all. One that George would attend, and I had the feeling that tonight might just be a crossroads for him. A chance for him to see that there was another option, another path that was coming into view already as he moved forward. And maybe, just maybe, he would see the opportunity that the new path was and change direction.

That evening, I allowed myself to believe in that possibility. I still knew it was only a maybe, yet I chose to wield the hope of it over doubting thoughts.

It’s all in your head. He’d never choose you over her. She’s got that thing. The thing that Gleam had. He wouldn’t like you.

But my hope responded, why not? There’s a chance. I actually care about other people’s feelings. She’s just using him to get over her ex. He might see that I really care. He might make a better decision. Besides, if he doesn’t, it’s his loss. But I’m not going to pass up the chance that he might.

My hair was straight and I spent a little extra time on my makeup. Lara joined reader and I as I was getting ready for our party and immediately noticed.

“Oh, you’re looking all hot. Dang it, now I’ve got to put on makeup.” She left my room and Reader and I looked at one another, puzzled. Lara hardly ever put much effort into her appearance. She really didn’t have to. She was petite and beautiful, yet unique in her beauty…like something of the Fae in Irish folktales. She had long dark lashes that showed whether she wore mascara or not and she never broke out. So her comment and subsequent sprucing were definitely out of the ordinary.

I got a bad feeling in my gut.

The feeling deepened when, upon receiving some very encouraging attention from George, Lara suddenly began to compete with me.

The party was not fun. Not for me. Reader and Gamer were furious on my behalf, noticing how she fought to silence me and passive-aggressively put me down at any opportunity. She wouldn’t risk that I might be noticed. Even when we were playing games in a group I couldn’t have a turn at something without her loudly inserting her own jokes or diverting his attention in that moment. She blatantly flirted with him. The bad gut feeling quickly turned to hurt and anger that she was acting like that. It was childish and unnecessary. She was a picture of jealousy. The kind of jealousy I never wanted exhibited in our friendship.

I didn’t compete back. I let her have all the attention, which he gladly gave, at last getting the confirmation of what he’d “known” to be true. This was exactly what I had been trying to avoid when I asked her to tell me if her feelings had changed. How many times had she insisted that she didn’t like him? How many times did I assure her that if she would just have a conversation with me then I would be fine if they were together? But after two and a half years of friendship she either still didn’t trust me or she was too selfish to care about my feelings.

He was the last guest to leave the party. After cleaning up I passed her room and uttered a quick goodnight. She was sitting in his lap, their arms around one another, as he showed her something on her computer. They said goodnight, probably seeing on my face the hurt I tried to hide, and I went to my room where I finally let myself shed a few tears.

The next day our other roommates left to go home for break and she avoided me by staying in her room. I called George to see if he needed any help packing, because regardless of who he was with, I was still his friend. Right after, he accidentally sent me a text that was meant for her, explaining the phone call I’d just made to him. He tried to backpedal by lying that it was meant for his mom. Trying to cover for Lara eavesdropping on my phone conversation.

She finally came out that afternoon and I asked her what happened between them. She tried to avoid answering.

“I’m not exactly sure.”

I hate lying. I’d rather someone hurt me with the truth than keep it from me. Not only did she keep her interest in him a secret from me, he’d also lied about his texting mishap, and now she was still trying to avoid telling me anything.

Again I realized she didn’t trust me. What on earth had I done to cause this? She didn’t trust that I actually wanted both of them to be happy, and I loved them both enough that any feelings for him and disappointment for myself would heal. I guess her own wounds made her unable to trust that someone would really be capable of that. I don’t know.

After similar questions and evasive answers, I finally asked, “So, did he leave with the idea that you don’t like him or that you do?”

“That I… do?”

“And do you? Because the last I heard you didn’t.”

“I don’t know. I think I do?”

I felt a pang and my jaw clenched. How could this be happening? How could she use him like this and how could he not see it?

“Why didn’t you just tell me?”

“I didn’t want you to be mad at me.”

“You guys lying to me is the only thing that is really going to make me mad. George lied to me earlier today. I’m not stupid. I just want you to be honest with me. Keeping me in the dark is what hurts me more than anything. Can you just give me that courtesy? That’s all I ask.”

She nodded and I added, “That and…just be sure that you really do care for him. Don’t lead him on. He deserves better than that.”

Though the bulk of the awkwardness between us was sufficiently resolved and she departed for Christmas break, my trust in her was now damaged. Not because she was with the guy I liked, but because of how she’d handled the whole situation.

That evening George called me and asked if we could talk. He came by that night and apologized for lying about the text.

“I’m not an idiot, you know.”

“I know. It was stupid and I’m sorry,” he said from his seat at the kitchen table.

I nodded and leaned against the counter, arms folded. “You know, don’t you?”

“What,” he said, playing dumb.

“Oh, come on. You know.”

I really don’t.”

I sighed, “You know how I feel…about you. I’m sure it’s been obvious.”

“Yeah. I knew,” he said kindly.

“I’ll be fine, I promise. I just want you to be taken care of.”

I’m still proud of myself for not saying a word about the daily selfishness her roommates had to put up with, or her using him or her flakiness about her feelings for him. I wanted to, but I didn’t. I’m pretty sure it’s proof that even in that dark time in my life the Holy Spirit was still doing His work in me.

I recounted the night I did laundry with him from my perspective and he groaned and laughed with me about it. He enjoyed scriptwriting and agreed that it was gold…painful..but gold.

He told me he’d stop by the next day to say goodbye. I think he knew that, though he and Lara would stay in touch after he moved to Chicago, things wouldn’t be the same between me and him.

I began to pack the next day, frustrated when I saw that my roommates had left a sink full of dishes, a fridge full of food, and loads of trash to carry to the dumpster. Seriously, sometimes they were the worst.

He stopped in after his graduation. I gave him a book as a graduation present and then he hugged me. I listened to his heartbeat and fought back tears and we just held each other.

After a long time he said, “You are awesome.”

“So are you.” Then he let me go and I opened the door. He walked through it, turned and said, “Bye,” and gave me that warm, winning smile.

“Bye,” I returned, though, at the moment, I wasn’t capable of smiling quite so big. I watched him get in his car and as he pulled away I shut the door.

I locked the deadbolt and my hand blurred in front of me as sudden sobs overtook me. I sank down the door and sobbed and sobbed.

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned before, but I don’t cry often. Perhaps…3 times a year? I might tear-up during a movie, but real crying, from my own emotion and not just theatrical catharsis, is rare.

That December day I cried as I had never cried before and haven’t cried since. Not even when people have died. Like…my grandparents. Parting from George was the only time I can recall being inconsolable.

I wept on the floor in front of the door for a while and then decided I needed to pull myself together and do the dishes. Then, as I was doing the dishes with tears still pouring from my eyes, the fact that I was having to do dishes made me sob all the harder to the point that I couldn’t even do the dishes anymore. So I gave up and went to my room to pack my clothes and somehow ended up curled up on the cold hardwood floor. I wept so hard that I literally (yes I am using the word correctly when I tell you this) cried a puddle of tears on the floor. When I splashed my finger in it I started laughing but then resumed crying all over again.

I don’t know how I managed to finish everything and pack my car, but eventually I was on the road and headed home. I cried the entire two-hour drive. Then I went inside and sat on the couch with my parents and cried more as I told them what had happened.

“I know that God has someone for me and I know I’ll get over this, but for right now this just sucks!” By then my body really couldn’t produce anymore tears and decided instead to start giving me awful rending pains in my chest. I could actually feel something for once. Not just hints of emotion but something strong and real.

“I’m going to milk this emotion while I’ve got it.” I went to my room and wrote a whole song. It’s super depressing and not very good but I still kind of love it to this day. (My fellow INFP’s totally get this paragraph, haha).

I told the woman who’s like a second mom to me about my chest pains.

“You’re broken-hearted, Ace. Emotional pain can be so strong it’s physical. That’s why it’s called ‘heartache.'”

I wondered how long it would take before Lara threw George aside or if he would wake up to her flaws first. But I was wrong.

A few years ago they married and are still married to this day.

It didn’t take me long to realize I didn’t actually want to be with him. And now I’m so glad I’m not and never was. I’m glad I was wrong about her and she didn’t hurt him the way I was so sure she would.

As I write this, reliving these memories has been painful, and not because I regret how things played out in the long-run. It hurts because this experience drove the wound much deeper.

Ace, You’re too intimidating, too reserved, too opinionated, too awkward. You’re not enough. Not charming enough, not mysterious enough, not flirtatious enough, not cool enough, not approachable enough. You don’t have it, whatever that thing is that makes you worthy of pursuit by someone you actually desire. There’s always someone shinier, and it doesn’t matter if you wear a blue sweater or a red shirt, you will still be unseen.

 

 

(To Be Continued…)

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The Unrequited Love Saga Pt 3

Headlights on the road, backseat full of laundry, and my heart resisting the continual urging of my brain to beat at a normal pace, I made my way to George’s apartment.

Our dryer was broken and he’d offered his to me.

George and I had spent hardly any time without Lara. This was exciting and nerve-wracking all at once.

The evening started out just fine. We talked and chatted as my clothes tumbled about in imitation of my insides.

Then he changed the direction of the conversation.

George: Ok, ok, so I’m going to pose a hypothetical question.

Me: ….ooohhhkaaay…

George: Ok so hypothetically, what would be the chances of you…telling me…if someone in your house liked me?

Me: That’s funny because I was actually about to ask you how long you’ve liked Lara.

George: No, no, no, no! This is hypothetical! (looks at me very intensely and says with emphasis) What are the chances…of you…telling me…if someone in your house liked me?

Me: Uh…good I guess?

George: So, then, my next question. Does someone in your house like me?

Me: So, you’ve got it pretty bad for Lara, huh?

George: Ace, no no. Does someone in your house like me?

I’m sure I just blinked a few times as he continued staring knowingly at me.

Him:

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Me:

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My thoughts: Holy crap, he knows! Why is he asking this way! This is so weird!

(George continues to stare. He can see right through me.)

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My thoughts: If he knows about my feelings I might as well be honest.

Me: Maybe a little?

George: (With a satisfied smile) I knew she did! I knew it! I could just feel that there was something there!…

My Thoughts:

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George:   I could tell by the way she looked at me and I just knew she had feelings for me! It’s in her posture and everything! You know, I’m really good at reading people….

Me:

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(George continues to go on and on for a few minutes about sensing her “feelings” for him and how he liked to go to the mall and just people watch and try to pick up on things about them and how good he was at that)

Me:

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My Thoughts: I have no idea what to do in this moment. Not a dang clue. He’s not very good at reading my distress! She expressly told me she doesn’t like him and now he thinks she does and I can’t just interrupt him and say, “No. I meant me,” now that he’s gone on and on about how right he was. What is happening. What is happening…

Have you ever had a moment where the narration in your head would make J.D. from Scrubs proud? Or where you wished you could freeze the world around you with a Zach Morris-style time-out in order to say to the camera, “IS THIS REAL LIFE!?”

There have only been a few times in my life that felt more like a movie or a TV show than reality. This one was supremely surreal. I just kept thinking that it had played out like a script. Could a worse miscommunication possibly have taken place!? I had no answers, no knowledge of how to fix what I’d just done. I don’t remember what we talked about until my clothes dried but I laughed/groaned all the way home at the insanity of what had taken place.

I confessed to Lara what had happened when I arrived and she was very alarmed. I don’t remember either of us doing anything to correct what I’d told him. I guess we figured that if he made a move she would just turn him down…but I really don’t remember the in-between very clearly.

I just remember that not long after, he and I got to hang out again and we talked about deeper things and got to know each other better. And not long after that, we had a party at my apartment.

I could tell something was bothering a friend of mine, and so he and I decided to take a walk so he could tell me about it, and we decided this while Gamer was in the same room so I figured that it was fine to just leave because Gamer knew where I was going and who with.

I should have realized that Gamer’s head is in the clouds 90% of the time and he was not paying any attention to me and my friend. We were gone for probably an hour and when I got back George was absolutely furious. He was legitimately angry (which I’d never seen) and gave me an earful about disappearing without my phone. Reader told me after that she’d never seen him like that. She said he realized I was gone early on and he searched and searched and kept making her call me and was really worried.

I apologized to him. I was touched that he cared about me that much. And for the rest of the night I noticed that he was giving me more attention than usual. There was a slight change in him toward me after that night. Was it possible that he was starting to have feelings for me too?

 

(To be continued…)

The Unrequited Love Saga Pt 2

High school passed with a few crushes rolling by like tumbleweeds in the barren desert that was my love life. Two years of college produced little more than a friendship my freshman year that was almost something more until I realized I didn’t want it to develop beyond that, and meeting a couple of guys I would have considered had they not already been taken. Women outnumbered the men at my school, which made the odds worse. So I studied and socialized and worked hard, with a gut feeling that I wasn’t going to meet my future husband at college. Or even that anyone would catch my interest. I was right and I was wrong.

I saw him first perform in an improv show my junior year. He was cute and absolutely hilarious, but not cocky about it, and I was immediately attracted to his warmth and liveliness. I’ll call him George.

Some time later that fall, my roommate (whom I’ll call Lara) brought George back to the apartment and introduced us. They invited me to hangout with them. This turned into the three of us together quite often that semester.

My time out of class was mostly divided between hanging out with Lara and George or hanging out with my two best friends – the guy I turned down my freshman year (I’ll call him Gamer) and Reader. In the midst of this very busy semester I was blindsided when Reader announced one day that she and Gamer were dating… as in not just going on dates but actual boyfriend and girlfriend. It totally threw me. After the somewhat short conversation I skipped my next class and walked the campus to try to wrap my head around it. These were my two best friends, the people I considered closest to me in the whole world at the time, and suddenly they were dating!? How had I not known? How had I not seen it? Were we not the close trio that I thought? And then came the shameful thought of, how could he choose her over me? Even though I knew I had no right to that thought since I had passed him up. He really was over me. And then the realization that Reader! Awkward, abrasive READER had a boyfriend before me!

After a few hours I was able to accept it and get over myself, but felt a sense of loss. Things wouldn’t be the same anymore. Their dating had changed things.

And in this I was definitely correct.

Reader was a very selfish person. In many ways she was a bully. And I am naturally a peacemaker, and at that time in my life I was one to a fault. So having a differing opinion from her was something I tended to avoid unless it meant enough to me to be willing to argue with her. She almost never lost an argument.

Part of what had made me realize that I didn’t want to be with Gamer was that he put the people he cared for on pedestals and saw them, not as they were, but as glorified versions that he made them out to be. His love was extremely blind, which scared me because I wanted him to see me for who I was, not as a paragon of something I could never live up to. What was scarier was that his brand of devotion gave me way too much power, and I knew I would take the lead in the relationship and could steer him however I wanted. This was not the kind of relationship I was after, and not the kind of love I wanted.

Add the two together and throw me in the mix and our trio quickly became all about Reader. Gamer would never back me up on anything now that she was in ownership of his unwavering devotion. We did only what she wanted, catered to her every desire, and I lost my voice even more. I didn’t know how bad it was until I got out of those friendships, how much I was loosing myself to cowardice. Looking back I don’t wonder that my college years were the worst of my life so far.

And so I lost my place in the trio of my best friends and became a third-wheel. A lesser party. I watched his need to give and give devoured by her insatiable selfish taking and felt so unseen.

So I spent more time with Lara and George, who weren’t solely wrapped up in each other but welcomed me. I saw that George liked her. It was obvious. But when I asked her about it she annoyingly denied it, stating that they were just friends. The more time I spent around him the more I liked him. He had such a great sense of humor and not at the expense of others. Nor was it to gain attention for himself. He simply loved to make people laugh, enjoyed bringing a smile to their faces. He was interested in their lives and an active listener. His mere presence brought me joy.

I asked Lara if she was interested in him.

“If you are please tell me, because I’m starting to have feelings for him and if you like him I want to reel them back because he likes you and I don’t want to get in the way.”

“We’re just friends. I really don’t think he likes me.”

“He definitely likes you, but that’s beside the point. Do you like him? Please just tell me and I’ll take care of my feelings. I won’t be mad at you at all. I just need to know.”

“No, I don’t think of him that way.”

“You sure?”

“Yes.”

“Ok, well if that changes please just let me know and I will be fine, I promise.”

“Ok, I will.”

“Thanks.”

I’m not one to compete. I don’t play games. I’m honest. And I valued her friendship and her feelings too much to compete with her over a guy. If she liked him then I wanted them to be together. George and I were very unlikely due to his crush on Lara, I knew that. And what’s more, I wasn’t blind to his flaws and would have to seriously pause if he did ask me out. I never expected him to, anyway. And lastly, he was graduating that semester and moving far away to Chicago so there wasn’t much point.

Yet my feelings did grow and I stopped fighting them.

In the years previous, I’d started wondering if it was even possible for me to fall in love. I think it was mostly because I had friends who fell in and out of love constantly, and also (now understanding myself better than I did then), I think I was suffering mild depression during my college years.

My feelings for George showed me that my heart still beat and it could love. My love for George wasn’t like the crushes I’d had before. Infatuation fueled by my overly romanticized imagination. I didn’t care that he and I had no future together. I just wanted what was best for him. I wanted him to find peace with his faith and see himself as God saw him. I wanted him to go after his dreams and succeed and I wanted him to keep laughing and making people smile. I wanted him to have joy and for his life to be full, whether I was in it or not.

And I think I would have been fine if things had continued this way, but things didn’t. Hope intervened.

People dogmatize hope. Scripture places it amongst love and faith in importance and I believe that.

I also know that hope can be one of the most painful things in existence.

 

(To be continued…)

 

The Unrequited Love Saga Pt 1

My periwinkle blue sweater brought out the color of my tear-filled eyes as I watched the desire of my 8th-grade heart walk hand in hand with another girl under the starry October sky. I’d bought the sweater to wear to the bonfire because I knew he’d be there and I wanted to look pretty. I was taken aback and pleased when he said hi to me and our mutual friend, Molly, with a, “Hey! Nice shirt!” at the start of the evening, but I had no chance to be around him after that. He was spending all his time, energy, and efforts on her.

A year older, Gleam was the girl who had that thing about her. That elusive thing that made her irresistible to the guys and envied by the girls. Never seeming to go through an awkward adolescent phase, at least by all appearances, she had it made. He felt about her the way I felt about him, but until that evening I thought he was simply dreaming. She was gorgeous. He was a year younger and round with baby-fat. She wouldn’t be interested in him, right? But I stepped away from the party to sit on the front porch swing for a moment to myself, and witnessed them walk through the yard hand-in-hand, laughing and speaking softly. Apparently Gleam saw what I did. A guy who was fun and kind and easy to laugh with. Someone who actually cared about people. And just like that I was crushed by disappointment. My little dreamer heart was shot out of the sky to come crashing down to the reality that I didn’t have what she had. That I was passed over for something better. That in order to attract the kind of guy I liked, I needed that confidence or that personality or that type of beauty or whatever that damned thing was…and I didn’t have it.

What’s more the magic of my shirt/eye combo didn’t work. I mean, he actually noticed my shirt! Which meant that he saw me at my most beautiful and it had no effect on him.

Molly confessed to me the next day that she’d told him that I’d bought it just to impress him. I was angry and embarrassed both at her lack of discretion and that I’d been so excited that he’d complimented me in the first place.

To this day the incident sticks out in my mind. I remember so vividly sitting on that swing in my blue sweater and the heartache I felt hearing their laughter.