It used to be hard to talk about this without getting this ugly feeling lodged in my throat, but I’m getting better at it. Even though I hate to admit it, I know firsthand just how much of a total b*tch unrequited love can be.
I was a freshman when I met him. Tall and blonde with a slightly crooked nose, he was ridiculously hot in a nerdy, laid-back kind of way. I was completely gone for him. When we weren’t having paper ball fights on campus, we spent a majority of our time bickering over what should be considered the superior sport (because, priorities!) or having conversations strictly using Jack Johnson and Kanye West song lyrics in what was clearly a battle of “Who is the bigger music snob?”
The closer we became, the more convinced I was that he was into me, too. (If you’re thinking this ended up in total disaster, you’re right.) When I finally got my sh*t together and decided that I’d put everything out in the open, my friend beat me to the punch and just told him how I felt—in front of all of his friends and his entire team.
The look of disgust and betrayal he threw my way stayed with me. I was thrown headfirst onto an emotional land mine and had to scrape my dignity off of the floor.
I think that out of all the reactions I imagined him having, storming off in a fit of rage (and completely cutting me out of his life) wasn’t one of them. He was my first love, but—clearly—I wasn’t his. And when the dust settled and I shoved down the shame, I realized that losing his friendship was more heart-wrenching than being rejected.
1. I questioned my own judgement.
I spent months tracing my steps, trying to figure out how I was so off my game that I read his signals wrong. I never admitted this to anyone, not even myself, but being cut-off ripped the balance from right under my feet.
2. My self-esteem hit an all-time low.
We had a good thing going, and I royally screwed it up. All for the sake of what? A distant glance in the hallway? I traded his friendship for his indifference and it will always be my biggest regret.
3. I isolated myself.
I found myself falling into a black hole. After “my friend” put my feelings on blast, I trusted no one. Slowly, I closed in on myself and would avoid all public gatherings, especially if I knew he was going to be there.
4. And then I lost everyone, even my best friend.
I don’t blame them. After all, you can only try to wake someone out of their self-imposed funk so many times before being infected by it. But even though I acted like I didn’t care that my best friend (who would tell me years later that she had a secret “thing” going on with him) stopped talking to me, I did. So much.
5. Now I’m a bit of a cynic.
Safe to say, my love life is plagued with skepticism. But even though I hit rock bottom (hard), I’m trying to find my way up again every single day.