I remember a time when meeting someone who was just as damaged was a bit of a relief. Everyone walking…
I have done my fair share of awful things in relationships over the years. I won’t go into too much detail because no one really like to know how the sausage is made but rest assured, I am not proud of these moments of weakness. Through it all, there has been a bit of a code. Like bank robbers who don’t steal from patrons – we are the ethical outlaws, the ones with the underlying sentiment of goodness even while we commit sins.
I was never in love with her. I loved her, she was my best friend, but I knew there was an expiration date. And while I have always told people the worst crime you can commit is to give someone hope and waste their time (because time is the most valuable thing we have), sometimes there are extenuating circumstances. Sometimes you feel obligated to stay because they were there for you during your low times and to leave them when they are at their worst would be cruel and selfish at best. Sometimes you stay because it is what is right at that time – even if you know it will never last. And even temporary relationships have validity. Whether it is a matter of weeks, months, or years – each one teaches us a little about ourselves and human nature in general. And if we are perceptive enough and we care enough to learn, hopefully, we use these moments to teach ourselves to communicate more effectively. The idea being that we become the best versions of ourselves so when the right person falls into our life, we will be ready. Because we practiced.
So no, I wasn’t IN love with her but I learned so much from her. And I stayed because she had earned that from me. And if I was to leave her at the lowest point of her life would have been a betrayal. So I did what I thought was right as an ethical outlaw and I stayed for her because even if I wasn’t IN love with her, I still loved her and she was still my best friend. And that’s what friends do for each other. We carry the load to make your journey a little easier.
Now on the other hand, you could say that I allowed her to believe this would evolve. That maybe one day we would move in together, or have children, or get married and fade away together in our golden years watching sunsets from our porch swing. But I knew that wasn’t a possibility so I did my best to hold her at bay. I didn’t tell her I loved her. I didn’t do all the sweet things that is second nature to me. I attempted to keep it as friend-based as possible and only doled out affection in small and brief doses. It made me seem distant, aloof, and common. And I hated it because that wasn’t truly me. What I really wanted to do was grab her and tell her all of my secrets and fears. I wanted to trust her with every flaw and open my chest so she could understand my intentions and abuse. I wanted to fall into her and relax in her arms and listen to Red Sparowes and feel genuine our touch.
But I didn’t. Because I couldn’t do that to her.
And while I may have been robbing her bank, I wasn’t going to go that extra mile and steal her hope. And I did everything I could to preemptively cushion the blow before I dropped the bomb. I started to come over less often and made my texts back even more brief in hopes that the distance would make it feel as if we were just naturally growing apart. But the problem was, I knew we had never truly come together.
But I will tell you a secret that I have never told anyone. Late at night, long after she had gone to bed leaving me in the living room to catch up on late night television, I would quietly sneak into her room and slide into her bed. I would wrap my arms and legs around her, and gently rub my feet on top of her feet, and tear up knowing that I couldn’t give her everything she deserved. Then I would whisper the words into her shoulders that she deserved to hear. The words she earned. And I don’t think she ever heard me or would have even remembered, but I said them because even if it was just in my brain, I needed to know that I gave her a little bit of what she deserved because she certainly didn’t deserve a guy like me. Because I had it in me – I just didn’t want to give it to her. So maybe she did deserve a guy like me. But I certainly didn’t deserve a woman like her.