I Dated My Best Friend (A Cautionary Tale)
Have you ever been broken? It’s irrelevant what breaks you—when you’re that crippled by your own absolute misery everything bleeds together anyway. A gulf forms, splitting distance between your body and the reality around it. The ground beneath you (that once felt so firm) is eroding in a rapid succession of violent landslides until you yourself are sliding into the void, picking up speed and rubble on your way down.
I’ve felt this way before. I was crazy with it—out of control, lost and frustrated. I’d been shot through the heart and it was a melodramatic, self-indulgent moment but it was mine. I cried and I drank for months. I vomited up my tears and the drink and all the stupid pills that I thought would make it easier. It was all the same though—being fucked or not fucked—the pain was consistent.
But he was there. He was there to hold back my hair as I lurched into the porcelain, to embrace my convulsing form on the bathroom floor as I sobbed wildly and to tenderly wipe away my tears with the gentle tips of his fingers. He was the one answering the phone at 3am when I’d wake, panicked, breathing in a dangerous staccato, needing to hear a voice, any voice, tell me it was going to be OK.
He was the one who would stay the night when I was too scared to turn out the lights. He was the one who listened to my fears, my regrets and my longings. Everyday he was there—in the mornings when I woke up, in my lunch breaks and work, and in the evenings before I went to bed. And I was everything to him that he was to me—his confidant, his savior, his best friend. We were completely intertwined in each other’s lives—from the everyday mundanities to our inner clockworks—the only thing we didn’t share was sex. That was until the night we kissed.
It was hot, summer—we were visiting his hometown and he threw a party at his family home. The night was a blur of dancing, skinny-dipping, alcohol and drugs. But we were more intoxicated by the way we loved each other. We laughed so much that night, and in a movie perfect moment, sitting on the arm of the couch in his living room, we both fell back, the nape of my neck resting on his upper arm, our noses almost touching. It took a moment as we smiled into each other’s eyes—and then our mouths met somewhere in the middle.
I discounted it the next day. It was the alcohol, I’d say. It was the drugs, I’d say. It was how terribly I love you, an expression of sheer lunatic affection, I’d say. And every time it happened and every day after when I’d make my excuses he’d have the same expression on his face. I passed off his outward acceptance as honesty, but I always knew better.
I was so desperate not to lose him then. And I did love him. Wildly and passionately, as one loves a best friend—but never as one loves a lover. So when he gave me an ultimatum—be my girlfriend or be nothing more—what could I do? I fell into his arms with a sense of foreboding, but I kept talking myself out of it. He’s my bestfriend, I’d think, we spend every moment together anyway, and I love him more than any other boy in the world. What could possibly go wrong?
Over the course of the next 8 months I found the answer to my ominous musings—everything. Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong, and in the most awful, heartbreaking way. We were riddled with insecurities. We couldn’t let go of each other’s pasts—we knew too much.
Had it been years? Yes, years—it had been years and years of listening. Our darkest thoughts. Our deepest romances. There were things we had stubbornly committed to memory that had no place in a blossoming relationship. And so we’d fight. We’d scream and we’d cry. And every day we chipped a little bit of love from the mettle of our friendship and threw it on the scrap heap.
He grew to resent me, and I him. We tormented each other, unable to bridge our idyllic friendship into this new romance. But what of romance? There was none. We went from nothing to everything—there was no courting, no nervous glances, no will or wont he text me? From the outset it was the same as it had always been—videogames, pizza in our underwear, can you please sleep in the spare bedroom because your snoring is annoying me?
With no discovery, and nowhere to go, we became trapped in the past. There was no present for us, and we turned violent in rebellion. We broke up on a beach in Greece—we cried and held each other in the perfect sunshine for hours. We swam out into the warm ocean and cried in the crystal blue. We cried with relief. We’d wanted so badly for our relationship to work we had almost completely ignored the fact that it quite simply, was not.
And now? We don’t speak. I haven’t spoken to my best friend in months, aside for him to abuse me childish taunts that border on unnecessarily cruel. I’ve fucked up in a million ways, cut him in more ways than I’d have liked to—and he’s done the same to me. Yet I miss him immensely. I want to know if he’s doing OK. I want to know what’s up? I want to know if we can find a way to erase the past year, because none of it—not one second of that goddamned bullshit—was worth losing my best friend over.
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