If You Were Never Mine, Why Does It Still Hurt So Much?

Once, I wanted to believe you were mine. We exchanged glances, we had a cause and effect, you and I. Every action of mine received a go to response from you. I played the game as good as any, although secretly, I liked to believe I was different. I told myself that by being above it all I’d never get hurt. By acting like I didn’t care, by treating it like it was nothing more than a physical affair, it became just that. Meaningless. To you, it was all fun and games. To me it was anything but. You didn’t question more than you had to and anxious to not know, I kept quiet about the turmoil within, not too far beneath the surface. You had more of an impact on me emotionally than anyone I’ve ever met. I always thought we’d have more time. I should have known your affections and your attentions were fleeting from the beginning. You were once all I had.

From the beginning, I disillusioned myself that we had a bond — it was a twisted idea of mine. What we had were extremes. Our “acquaintance” and our “drunk hook-up” phases that were contrasting inversely left and right so often, so hot and cold I felt at the precipice of a cliff leaning, always unbalanced. On edge was a constant for me and kept me invested. Disbelief that you ever chose me. But then you didn’t really, did you? We were never friends. Something so simple. Our lack of ability to communicate was at the heart of it all. We could exchange meaningless flirtations in our group of friends but one-on-one left us with all the embarrassment we had pushed to the side, everything we had jumped past as we rushed to get our need out of the way, crashed back into us. Neither knew how to navigate how much to care about the other or, more importantly, how much vulnerability to reveal.

We were never in any Facebook-worthy relationship, never anything respectable — but make no mistake that it hurt any less. It was definitely hard to remember that when you sped past me a month later and took another girl into your bed. Hard to remember when you chased after one of my friends. I should never have spoken with you as if everything was okay. As if we were strangers. And we hadn’t seen each other naked. I’d never spent nights in your room. We’d never hung out, just you and me. I never knew you. You never knew me, never as much as you thought you did at least. You pretended like it mattered. Like I mattered. I should have asked with all my being, should have made it clear. What I felt, what I wanted. I should have found out where I stood with you. That’s the biggest regret I have with you. I never showed the slightest interest on the outside or pursued finding out why you didn’t want me.

Listen though, I didn’t think we’d last. I didn’t have any illusions that we’d ever be in any relationship — I wouldn’t have wanted that. I did assume that I would be in your proximity long enough — I was content in my fascination with you — that I wouldn’t mind. You were the only one I wanted. I held you so much above other boys. Why? Why did I pretend that you were different or that I was different? I wanted so much to imagine we weren’t a typical “just acceptable for college thing.” I wanted to think your texts, your smiles, your gestures meant more. When your facade was lowered, I refused to see you for you. I blocked it out of memory, excusing it as some temporary misfire. Those hissing and shouting from the sidelines — I didn’t heed them — they didn’t know — they couldn’t grasp what I was feeling with you, what you made me feel when I was in your arms. When I was the object of your affections.

When it ended, and a painful end it was — I found myself in tears almost every weekend; I would blast songs that reminded me of our drunken nights together knowing all the while that something was scrambled and aching deep inside. More times than not, I wanted to just leave. Leave your proximity. I avoided you, I isolated myself from my friends. I blamed myself, tortured myself with the thought that if I had done something differently you would still be texting me every night. I wrote over and over in anger, in hate I wished I felt that I was over you, that I never wanted to see your face and that I would stop caring. I tried desperately — anything. In turn, my bitterness was mistaken for hate by others. But I still would have done anything to be in your good graces. I was still disillusioned into thinking that weekends held potential-that you’d be mine for one more night. I never told you. I liked to believe I was confrontational but whenever there was opportunity — I pushed it back down afraid of what I might find out if I dug too deep.

Yet not even a few months later, I pushed my summer resolution against you to the side in five seconds. If even. I would give up anything for you. My dignity. My self respect. My body’s self worth — if you just said the word. I would be yours. Even after I found out the worst about you. You were irresistible to me. I wanted you more than I’d ever wanted anything. And that never stopped. I cared about you more than you’ll ever know. And when your smile alighted on me, I smiled back as if everything was okay. As if you hadn’t brushed past me after you promised to change, promised to treat me better, promised to make an effort to be friends. I should have known better. What made her different? What set us apart? Was I already tainted for you? Was she a way to escape your past, your slew of mistakes and the destruction you wanted to leave behind? I would never know.

You made my blood rush, my head pound, my stomach go numb. No one else did that for me, to me. I wanted you to be wrapped up in me. I wanted to end every night with you. I wanted to discover you. You were fascinating. I never understood how you ticked. And that irked me to my core. I pretended I always wanted nothing more than friendship — really, I think I wanted proximity to try to figure you out. You were always this above-earth thing in my head. Something I wrote about and thought about that ingrained you and made you something of a legend in my mind. You’d leave me breathless when I would see you across a room. My heart would melt at your smile — that you never hesitated to shine at me. In your bed, we were alone together but we were never together alone. I wasn’t resentful you took my innocence, although I cry for the lost innocent girl that once was. Who knew nothing of how to act and what to expect in the chaos that was college.

And now? You don’t mean anything to me. I could never go back to that naïve, ignorant mindset I once shamelessly carried around. I’ve grown up. I never loved you. You have to know to love and I never knew. Every day it slips, you slip farther back in memory and a few days a week I force myself to remember. What it felt like, what you felt like. It kept something alive in me. It made me feel. Even the heartbreak, the pain, my shattered mind. Any semblance to me that you cared was only half-formed, half-carried through. I would always overanalyze, overthink what you meant — trying to make it seem more than it was. There were days where your pictures would make me sick to look at. There were days I would avoid seeing you or would see you but never say anything. I remember once we stood side by side, never greeted each other, never exchanged a word and it stuck with me all day.

You told me I should have said something, that morning after, sitting on my couch together. That I should have told you how angry I was when I avoided you the year before. The thing is, I tried. Not as hard as I should have. But my apathy towards appearing vulnerable and desperate steered me clear from acting on instinct. You were once my one and only. You were my darkest corner and my highest high. But nothing more than a childish dream, a half-thought idea. You were all in my head. The mind of a innocent girl who never knew any different — who was blinded with how much you appeared, never truly looking back to see how much you weren’t. TC mark

featured image – Bhumika Bhatia

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