There are many times when I have looked back on decisions that I’ve made and wished that I could hit “redo.” I’m witty and sarcastic, which is often times a recipe for disaster, and suddenly I’m hit with a wave of guilt and “I can’t take this back’s.” This has always been a problem for me, so much so that my mother used to say that I could cut someone down with words in an instant, and needed to be constantly aware of what was coming out of my mouth. At a young age I didn’t understand what she was babbling on about, but it didn’t take too long for the silent treatments and unspoken angry glances from those closest to me for me to understand what she was talking about.
There are photos that I’ve seen where I wish someone would have told me how ridiculous I looked in an outfit; that wind pants and Olympia Sports t-shirts were never a fashion statement, turquoise strips in my hair made me look like a mermaid, and that perming my bangs was a massive mistake.
There are friendships that I’ve lost throughout the years that have devastated me, times where I have been horrible to those closest to me, and have put myself in unhealthy situations more times than I can count.
In college there was this guy that I worked with that I adored. There was never anything between us, but he was always there for me. The type of guy who brought me medicine when I was sick, held my hair when I drank too much and threw up in the bushes outside, hugged at while I cried and cried and cried after yet another breakup with my at-the-time boyfriend and always insisted that I could do better. He meant the world to me, would constantly make fun of me for preferring Ray Allen over Paul Pierce, and would make me play “Horse” outside at my apartment complex until it was so dark I could no longer see the hoop. It wasn’t until he asked me on a date that things changed for me. I immediately knew that our friendship was about to change; the carefree times together were going to be different, because I just didn’t feel the same way. I wanted to, I mean, who wouldn’t want to be with someone that great? But I just didn’t.
And I was right. The air between us shifted and I found myself avoiding him, making excuses not to hang out. I told him that I didn’t feel the same way, and the reaction on his face broke my heart. Then, one night I invited him over and a group of us went to the local boarded up mill across town to investigate the broken down building. We had to roll through dirt and busted boards to make it inside of the building, and it was dark, late, and terrifying on a warm night in the middle of May. I hate being scared, and this place creeped me out as I walked through tools, wood, graffiti and clothing from a time way before my own. I remember not even thinking as I grabbed his hand, and he held mine right back. I thought that maybe I could force myself to have feelings for someone who was so nice to me, because I wasn’t used to it and it made me feel special.
Later that night we drove home, and I smiled even though I was nervous and uneasy and knew what was going to happen. He kissed me and I felt nothing. Nothing. All I could think about was what I could do to get him to leave, what an idiot I was for hurting him like that, that things didn’t feel right, how uncomfortable I was. But I let him kiss me anyways because I was selfish and knew that by asking him to go, that I would also be saying goodbye to my friend for good this time. Eventually he did leave, and I spent the whole night tossing and turning wondering how on earth I was going to tell him that I just didn’t feel the same way, that I had messed up, that I was so, so sorry. I knew I had to.
I didn’t mean to hurt him, I didn’t know that by kissing him I would get all the answers that I was looking for. That sudden pang of no, this isn’t supposed to happen that I didn’t know would be so strong. I thought that maybe if I tried hard enough, that maybe I could develop feelings for him, that maybe I could fall for a guy who I knew adored me and was so good to me. I loved him, just not in the way that he wanted.
Because when you find someone that you feel that strongly for you just know. There are signs, connections made even before that first kiss that you can’t ignore. Similarities, an easiness between two people that’s just there. An instant desire to talk to someone all the time, hear their voice, kiss them, touch them. You sort of lose control of everything you’ve tried so hard to keep together.
As much as I regret what happened on that night in college, there are times where I think that if that hadn’t have happened, then I wouldn’t be where I am today. We all have to have bad dates and relationships with no spark to realize when something good comes along, to get that reassurance of, “oh, this has been what I’ve been waiting for this whole time.”
Maybe I wouldn’t be as independent as I am today, or have that ability to tell someone that things just aren’t going to work out after all if I hadn’t gone through that. Maybe I needed to make those mistakes to learn more about myself, what I desire, what I’m capable of. I never would have realized the impact of telling someone that you don’t feel the same, how heartbreaking it can be coming from sides, because trust me, I’ve been there.
Finding someone that you actually enjoy, can more than tolerate, that challenges you every day is really fucking terrifying. But it’s so magical to me, that there are people out there that are just as attracted to you as you are them. You make them feel weak and you feel it right back. That bring out the best in you, and they don’t really see the worst, and if they do, they don’t care.
And if those moments are going to be out there for me, then I guess I don’t regret anything that I’ve been through that’s helped me get to this point.