We’re talking, but I barely listen to the words. I’m too busy reading between them. The smiling, the head tilting toward him, the hair touching - the smug satisfaction plastered all over me. But I’d dimly noticed those things about my body language before. This time, I pay attention to his. The lowered cap, cast down eyes, his body angled straight forward and slightly hunched...keeping me, and everyone else, out. This time I’m looking for the “Dead End” signs, deliberately not thinking about how he pressed me up against a wall shortly after we stopped recording, and became someone completely different.
I shred the skin from the corner of my fingernail, leaving a red open area that hurts. Yet I continuously pick at it; dig into it with my other nails, actually liking the tiny flickers of pain. I click the delete button with regret.
It’s not usually in my nature to erase the past. I prefer to wallow in it, pick at it. These might not be the feelings I want, but surely they’re better than nothing. After all, I can’t write about nothing.
My biggest regret is not that I let him in. It’s not sleeping with him or even falling for him. I’m not embarrassed (anymore) that I ignored warning signs that were always there.
What I regret is that I was ashamed of how strongly I felt, because of our circumstances. When I wasn’t delirious with feelings I’m not exactly accustomed to, I was hiding them from everyone because they might think it was not only weird, but impossible.
I regret downplaying my emotions to save his feelings, because it made me resentful. “I’ve always been brutally honest with you”, I said to him. But that’s not entirely true. I fell just short of that every time I bit my tongue to make him happy, every time I bitched about him instead of to him when he hurt my feelings or pissed me off, and every time I refused to call him on his bullshit. It’s the strangest thing – I wanted him to hurt, to feel raw and betrayed like I did...but I couldn’t bear the thought of saying or doing anything to cause him pain. And too, I was afraid that if I rocked the boat, whatever tenuous feelings he seemed to have for me would fade.
And finally, I regret that a friendship that made me so happy for so long is over. Not necessarily because I want it to be, but because it has to be. Not because he didn’t, as he said, “feel as strongly for me” as I did for him. Though it hurt terribly, I would have eventually gotten over the fact that I wasn’t what he wanted romantically. It’s because I can’t trust him anymore. And because I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forget feeling not only used, but pitied.
Six months later, though they are getting fewer and farther between, there are still days when I’m so angry at him that I can’t see straight. There are days when I miss him so much its inexplicable and days when, after something notable happens, I catch myself dialing a number I can’t seem to forget.
He once told me that he was glad he met me, that he needed to meet me. At the time I was upset and the last thing on my mind was using heartbreak as a learning experience. I thought, “Sure you’re glad...you got laid.” But maybe he was right – maybe I should be glad. Maybe one day I will be.
Maybe we did need to meet each other. Not just to see if what we’d started through words would translate physically, but to push ourselves out of the rut we’d both been in for so long. I may have gone about it in an unconventional way, but I’ve never allowed anyone to get to know me on such an intimate level before. And he’s definitely struggled with putting himself out there. So maybe we were always meant to be standing right where we are now.
Maybe, in the end, he was always meant to hurt me. And I was always meant to write about it.