After A While I Learned To Stop Reading Signs That Weren’t There

God & Man

After a while, I stopped getting excited about things that didn’t matter.

I used to get excited seeing you like a picture on my Instagram.

But then I realized that’s all it was. You liking a picture but not liking me.

After a while, I stopped snapping things hoping you’d care enough to look at my story.

Because I realized if you cared you would be with me.

After a while, my heart stopped racing when you’d snap me or text me.

Because I realized all I was doing was allowing myself to be the person you turned to when you were bored.

After a while, I stopped inviting you places because I knew you’d never make me the priority I needed to be.

It was either you canceling and rescheduling and I couldn’t keep hoping maybe I’d matter one day.

After a while, I stopped texting you first.

Because I realized that’s all it was, was texting.

I learned to stop making you a part of my routine even though you were always my favorite part.

My loudest laugh staring at a screen. My biggest smile.

You were almost everything I wanted but couldn’t be. But that wasn’t enough.

I needed something more than social media validating how you might have felt.

I needed someone to be there.

I needed someone to show up.

I needed someone’s words to match their actions.

And I couldn’t find that with you.

There were moments where it was 3Am and we were the only ones up and talking turned into careless flirting we didn’t say anything but we both knew it was there.

Moments where we’d be standing there next to each other out and there wasn’t company I enjoyed more than yours but you’d look at me and I could tell you wanted me to be someone else.

As much as one person could try to convince another to care I did that.

I cared more about you than I did anyone in my life for a very long time. And I feel grateful to have cared about anyone that much even if you didn’t fully feel the same way.

But neither of us could be what we each needed and I think it took me a little while to realize that.

I think I’ll always care. I told you things I didn’t tell anyone. I trusted you both with my secrets and my heart and I wouldn’t take any of it back.

My friends say I wasted time reading signals.

But I felt it. Even if nothing came of that it. Even if nothing was ever declared. There was something undefined between us. I think when you’re lucky you find that with connection with very few people.

I can be bitter about time wasted and uncertainty and potential mixed signals. Maybe you liked the attention. Maybe you liked knowing someone cared even when you didn’t. Maybe I played the role you needed at the time and that’s okay. Or I can be happy you gave me the time and attention you were able to even if it wasn’t what I needed.

I gave you my best and when you do that, you can’t ever regret it.

My face still lights up sometimes when your name appears on my phone. But it’s never going to mean what I want it to.

But I learned that’s it’s okay. TC mark

Kirsten Corley

Kirsten is the author of But Before You Leave, a book of poetry about the experiences we struggle to put into words.

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