I Should Have Known That You Weren’t Going To Stay

Adrian Sava

I feel like I am the butt of this long, elaborate and dramatic joke nobody told me I was a part of. So, I acted as if I wasn’t. I acted as if I deeply cared for, and quite possibly, loved you. Only it wasn’t acting. For the first time in god knows how long, I wasn’t acting at all. I was the truest version of myself. It was exhilarating and gut-wrenching all at once. I thought we both echoed the same feelings for one another, but I was horrifyingly, and embarrassingly proved wrong.

I wish I would’ve paid closer attention to your actions, and your words that were so full of hesitancy and doubt. I thought you were just scared, because fuck, so was I. I knew you had been burned in the past, and that there was even a divorce. Your mother left when you were young, and I know that probably ate at you and chipped away at your sense of self. You fished for compliments so often that under any other circumstances, I would’ve tired of it and simply walked away. But, not for you. I thought if I just reminded you, or showed you as honestly as I could, how wonderful you were, you’d eventually believe it to be true. What I should’ve been doing is reminding myself why I mattered enough and that it wasn’t and isn’t my responsibility to help fix you. Although even as I write this, the thought of you out there in the world still so unsure of yourself breaks my heart.

I believe you’re not inherently bad nor did you mean to hurt me. I simply think that you didn’t even think of anyone else besides yourself to have bad intentions. We played a game of on again, off again, on again for so many months that any normal, self respecting woman would’ve known it was time to cash in her chips, but not me. I hung in there. Even when you would never directly make the plans to see me, or even if I always felt a sick sense of uncertainty every time you left.

I clung to the memory of the one time you actually took the initiative. After a drunken night of me texting you relentlessly to come find me at a bar near you, and you seeming to be “too fucked up” to do anything about it, I told you this was it. That I was no longer going to be the one to ask you to hang out or to try and get a hold of you. You seemed to be really hurt by that, and to genuinely understand why I had felt so frustrated. When you texted me a few hours later, telling me that you would be taking me to dinner that Wednesday, I was elated. I thought we were finally on the same page. I had never been vague about my feelings or intentions with you, so for you to take the lead, I felt relieved. What I should’ve realized is that it had taken months of embarrassing myself to finally get you to even somewhat meet me in the middle.

After dinner we of course ended up back at your place. We pretended to be innocent, and even sat on opposite sides of the couch. But after I smelled that familiar scent of your body wash and cologne my resolve completely weakened. I put my head in your lap, and you stroked my hair, even held my hand. I remember thinking how safe I felt in that moment. That if every Wednesday I ever had for the rest of my life was spent exactly like this, I’d be stupid lucky. When you finally leaned into kiss me, my heart was pounding so hard I could hear blood coursing through my ears. Your hand slipped up my thigh and I quickly stopped you. You were so embarrassed and so apologetic about it, and I found it so endearing. I thought, this is it. We’re not people who are just fucking. It was a stupid, wishful thinking type of thought, but it felt real in that moment. Of course this only led me into thinking that I wanted you closer to me, which of course led to sex. The sex was different this time. It was tender and sweet and not just 2 people prying awkwardly at each other and trying to figure out what the other one likes. I was even on my period, and you were still gentle and attentive, all of course adding to my mental inventory of why this had to be finally real.

Before I left you asked to come out with me that weekend, and told me you wanted to meet my friends. I pretended to mull it over, but I felt such a sudden pang of pure joy, I am sure it ruined any allure I was trying to have. We went out that weekend, we had fun. I was so nervous, even though at this point we’d known each other for months. I drank way too much in an effort to feel cool and not clingy. When you said you were leaving I asked to go home with you. We sat in your car holding hands while you told me you wouldn’t feel right bringing me home. I was too drunk, and you just didn’t feel good about that. I am sure I protested, and in my head I like to think it was cute and endearing, but I am sure it was sloppy and came across as whiny and like a little girl not getting her way. You kissed my forehead, and dropped me off at the door.

I couldn’t wait to go back in and hear my friends’ opinions of you. You had gotten along so well with my best guy friend, and I was so eager to hear what he thought. Often times, the fact I have a heterosexual guy best friend bothers so many potential dates, but not you. Of course I took that to conclude that you so deeply cared about me, when really I think all it meant was how little you did. Who would be jealous that I had a straight male friend I was spending so much time with, when you had no plans of investing in any real future with me.

I am not sure why, but waking up the next morning I knew it was different. That somehow last night had been the beginning of the end. You texted me, told me how much fun you had and asked if you could join us next weekend, if you didn’t have any other plans. So many times the plans we made were always pending that you didn’t have any others with your friends.

Why couldn’t I have been the plan? Why couldn’t I be the one you had to reschedule around? Looking back, I think that should have been my biggest red flag.

All day that day I felt so uneasy. I was nervously tip-toeing around having the whole, “what are we?” conversation that I was desperate to get answers to. I am not certain how I phrased anything, or if I asked the question outright, but I do remember seeing in your text, that you said you needed to be a better friend to me.

Uh-oh. Friend. That’s where we were again. That I was just your friend. As if we didn’t spend all day texting and flirting with each other. As if we didn’t tell each other we missed the other person, or that we hadn’t spooned one another while they slept. Nope. We were just friends.

I made the grave mistake of initiating that conversation with you while I was at work and got to spend the remainder of the evening crying in the bathroom and trying to look like my heart wasn’t completely broken. You said sorry a dozen times, and asked if you could still be some part of my life. I made so many mistakes along the way with you, but I wasn’t willing to make that one. Keeping you in my life would mean further continuing the torture. It also meant that of course we would sleep together again, of course we would pick up old bad habits and fall right back into our old routine. I told you I couldn’t let you keep hurting me and that I couldn’t understand how you were so ok with doing it. I asked you why you kept coming back to me. Why would a few weeks, or maybe even a month go by and you’d text me again, wishing me luck at an important event at work, or referencing some artist we both liked. And although I am thankful for your brutal honesty, this is where the punch line comes in.

You confirmed what I had always known deep down in my gut. I was your security blanket, your ego boost. Feeling sad, lonely or horny? Text me. I’ll be there to cheer you up, make you laugh or maybe help you not feel so alone. What I had stupidly thought was you simply not being able to fight how you were feeling about me, or not wanting to lose me, it was really just all your own selfish bullshit you were satisfying.

What we had was never real. While I was busy re-reading your sweet messages or replaying the last time I kissed you, you were just merely using me to satisfy whatever need you had in that moment. I had been so foolish, and so tricked. I thought you liked me.

For years I’ve been so guarded and so good at keeping myself safe. I can’t let anyone down if I don’t let anyone in. I can’t get hurt if I don’t let anyone close. I know its cliché, but that’s what I was good at. In those years I had developed a strong relationship with myself. I didn’t mind being alone, or doing things by myself like going to movies or even just driving aimlessly while I chain smoked and listened to music. It helps that I am also a staunch commitment phobe to everything including all relationships, even platonic or professional ones. It all had finally seemed so lonely once I met you. It felt like someone had finally turned on a light in my dimly lit little universe. Suddenly I wasn’t the one letting a guy down easy, or insisting to him were better as just fuck buddies. Now I was wanting all those things with you while you kept me firmly at arms length.

It doesn’t take a therapist to conclude that that might have been the basis of your appeal. A scared and scared little girl who dreads any serious commitments falls for a guy who seems even more scared than she is.

So much of my life has been spent playing a part. At work I am laid back and easy going and most certainly “the fun co-worker.” I make jokes and I am quick witted and charming, but I work hard enough that it comes across as endearing instead of lazy. In my family, I am the baby so its ok that I don’t have my shit together at 27, but also frustrating. I walk around being the token black sheep, with my tail between my legs. Even though my siblings and other family members have made other mistakes and fucked up just as badly as I have, its somehow more severe when I do it. With my friends, I am the giver of sage advice. The die-hard truest definition of a friend. I will drop what I am doing in a moments notice to come cheer you up, or take the weekend off work just to stay with you.

I’ll make you laugh, plan “girls nights” and remind you of the 100 reasons why you’re perfect and that the boy you’re crying over isn’t worth it. With all these roles, I never feel like myself. Just a version of what I am supposed to be. With you, it didn’t feel like an act. It felt like I could be my weird, awkward, emotional, obnoxious, loud, and sometimes just downright bitchy self. You seemed to like it all, I mean you had to. Otherwise you wouldn’t keep coming back, right? I had mistaken the time we had spent together as us “building something” and not just as you taking advantage of my feelings.

When I was with you I felt like I was so smart, hilarious and sexy even. I thought you had looked at me and what I had to offer and thought it was good and that you had to do what it took to continue to have it. How naive of me. I wish that even now I would remember the bad stuff more often. Like the fact that I always felt stuck in between with you. Or that although when I asked you if you were sleeping with other women and you said no, I had no real way of knowing. Or that even on just a random Tuesday night when you were free you didn’t want to make plans with me. Instead all I can seem to remember is everything I’ll miss about you. I’ll miss how you made me feel and how silly you’d be even if it meant embarrassing yourself. I’ll miss the smell of you when you’d hug me, or the way you tasted when we kissed. Mostly I’ll miss that rush of excitement I felt when your name appeared on my phone. Even now, every time my phone dings I desperately hope its you. I fantasize its going to be you telling me you’re sorry, that you do want to be with me and not just as your friend. That you miss me just as much.

But you haven’t texted or called and I know I should be glad. I should keep moving on with my life and telling myself that a boy who constantly makes you doubt what you mean to him isn’t worth your troubles.

But I miss you. So, so much. Just because we miss someone, doesn’t mean we need them back and that is a lesson I have spent a lifetime learning. I guess I am still learning.

In the sick way we often torture ourselves, I drunk texted you this weekend and you didn’t respond and now I feel like I miss you even more. But this isn’t real and it never really was. You were lost and lonely and I was just a port in the storm. You knew that my feelings for you were real and intense and you still had no problem abusing that so you could get your ego stroked or so you could get laid.

Maybe in this moment I don’t genuinely feel as if I deserve more, but I am trying to teach myself. Relationships and happiness always seem so out of reach for me and I have a long history of settling for ones that only leave me alone and confused. Sometimes I think I’ve done too many bad things, and fucked up my karma too much to deserve genuine goodness.

Maybe I’ll be single for life, maybe I’ll adopt 100 cats, I don’t know. What I do know is that I am tired of being your safety net, your back-up plan, or your booty call. I am scared and I am lonely, but I do know, in my deepest and truest intuitions, that you’re not good enough for me. TC mark

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