41 days after I poured my heart out in a letter, I finally received a response.
“I needed to put myself back together again,” she wrote, “and jumping into a relationship was not the way to do it. If I regret anything, it’s that. I should have known I wasn’t ready.”
And a few weeks later, she suddenly was, with someone new. How a person can write these things and live totally different is beyond me.
An excuse was easier than the truth, easier than honesty. When we love people, romantically or as friends, we’re honest with them, even when it hurts. Sometimes it becomes clear in retrospect that a person didn’t love you, not even with friendship love. This was one of those times. The excuse of “timing” and “circumstances” were used to veil the simple fact that she had lied and was leading me on in order to spare her own guilt. And yet, had honesty and openness prevailed from the start, a friendship would still be intact, instead of nothing. This hurricane-force destruction will continue on to the next person, and the next, and the one after that. Will she have no regard for them as well or was abandonment reserved exclusively for me?
We expect the love we give, and after almost 28 years growing up in American society, I have yet to experience a relationship with someone who has cared about my feelings or loved me back. I’ve heard the words said and written, but never actually practiced. I want to know what it’s like to be loved back.
“But if there’s one thing I’ve learned from you and our friendship, it’s faith,” said one of my closest and most loyal girl friends. “Faith that good things will happen and come when you’re least expecting them. You were the one who taught me that and you can’t just give up all hope because of one chick.”
What freaked me out the most was the fact that I had always been able to read people so well and tell if they’re lying. How I could be deceived for so long scared me. I started questioning whether or not I had some kind of silent stroke and lost the innate ability to discern people.
If she meant any of the words she wrote, if she was telling the truth and actually loved me, even just as a friend, a relationship would be the last thing on her mind. “Know that there was never anyone else” she wrote. But there was, and although I don’t know the timing of these events other than they must have unfolded within at least a couple of weeks of the letter, it was clear now, more than ever, that the words were simply untrue. Perhaps there was someone else for awhile. Maybe she was seeing other people when she was with me. Who’s to say what’s true and what’s not?
And yet, it was my own overwhelming compassion that was so stirred and moved when I met her because she played the role of a vulnerable victim, when all along, that person was actually me.
“Some people are just really good at being manipulative, I’m afraid,” said another friend who had recently endured the same exact scenario, except probably much worse.
Each of us deserves someone who doesn’t lie, doesn’t ignore, doesn’t walk out of our lives and sever relationships and friendships with us, who appreciates and cherishes all of the time and effort we put into planning and loving, who finds us worth loving, worth being a friend to, who appreciate when someone rearranges their entire life and turns down jobs and does everything in their power to be closer to them.
How one person could tear down my self-confidence and make me feel so worthless was never something I thought could happen to the once so strong and confident me. But it was a tumult time in my life when I started dating her, launching myself into the risk and uncertainty of starting my very own business. Perhaps I was too vulnerable, and I made her out to be someone she wasn’t, someone I hoped she was beneath her piercing silence.
The most painful experience of my life was having the person I loved and wanted to do life with, who deceived and convinced me that she too, wanted in on a life with me, walk out entirely, feeding me excuses of “I need time to myself” “to figure things out” instead of the truth, that she was done with me, ditching me for good in a cold, Albany parking lot one winter evening, driving away to never see me again, to go seek new people who weren’t me.
It took her a few short weeks to get over me and move on to someone else, which my gut believes must have been the true intention anyway. How her heart could possibly be in that place at this time rehashes the searing pain and leaves me to face the terrifying truth alone; that she did not love me. Not even as a friend.
Is she aware of the lives she’s hurt? Does she believe this kind of superstorm destruction is worth it? My whole life I held onto something I treasured and valued so much, a part of me I wanted to share with someone who loved me back, and instead it now feels taken from me by someone who placed no value on it, who wasn’t considerate of my feelings. I’ll never forget the day we tried it, I was so hesitant and fearful, because I was afraid to share that kind of intimacy with someone who might leave me, who might lose interest. I let her know and she assured me that would never happen, that she wasn’t going anywhere, that she had never been so happy, and had “finally found me” and wanted me to be her best friend.
True love is a choice and a commitment. It’s loving people for who they are, for their flaws and insecurities, and failures. True love is how, even now in the midst of what has been my life’s worst pain, I still love her, even though she does not love me. I’m convinced she doesn’t know what it is, and may not have ever experienced it yet.
My friend told me people are afraid to be real with me. “Why?” I asked. “Why do I make them afraid to be real with me?”
“Because you’re a man,” she said, knowing girls, not women, want boys.
“You can’t live your life in fear, because there’s someone out there that is going to take away all of the pain that has been inflicted upon you,” my other hurting friend said. “It will all be worth it in the end. You can’t let those people win and take the best of you with them.”
I may not know why the story continues to repeat itself, why anyone I ever get close to or love, suddenly and unexpectedly walks out of my life for good, but I do want to believe I deserve someone who is truthful, who won’t ignore or discard me or sever a relationship with me, who will cherish all of the time and effort I put into planning things and loving extraordinarily. I want to believe I am worthy of someone who will, at long last and for the very first time, love me back.