It’s not the kind of love where you fall fast and out of nowhere. It’s the kind of love that you didn’t notice at first, the kind that gradually built up, until one day you realize that the person with whom you have the strongest friendship with is also the only person that can make your heart beat faster.
Your friendship started in the most natural way. You know his face and his name, but aside from that, you two are complete strangers. One day, you’re put in the same class, and he happened to sit right behind you. From that moment on, it was history.
You start to know more about each other – likes and dislikes – and after that, small talk turns into talking every day, and you will come to know that you are comfortable around him, both in loud, happy moments and in silent storms. He will make you laugh until your stomach hurts, but at the same time, he will be your rock in hard times; He will be there during your toughest days and his mere presence will turn a bad day around. He will tease you but he knows his limits, and he will say sorry when he needs to, and he will be genuine about it. He will listen to your endless stories and to your problems, but he will not feel obliged in any way to take your side at all times, and will even call you out on certain things, especially when you are at fault. You will show annoyance with this but you will secretly like it because you knew that he was not only being unbiased, but he was also being a real friend.
You know that both of you just get each other; and that there are parts of yourselves that only make sense when you are together. You will find yourself finding him attractive in more than one occasion, but you won’t tell him that unless it’s in a moment of passing or in silly conversations. You will find yourself the most disappointed when your plans with him do not push through. When you get cross with him, you can never stay that way, even when you have the right to. Any ill feelings for him will diminish once he reaches out to you. You will talk to him about finding him a girlfriend, and then suddenly you find yourself not wanting to. You also get curious at the extent of his closeness to other girls. At first you wave it off as being a jealous best friend. But then you realize that you are jealous because you don’t want to be just a best friend; from then on, things were never really the same.
He was your best friend, and to you, that was both the worst and the best thing. Yes, you were one of the people closest to his heart, but still not the one who was inside it. “But this is a good place to start, isn’t it?” You tell yourself. A relationship rooted on friendship is an ideal set up, so that if ever you did get into a relationship with him, you would have someone you love in so many different layers. With this in mind, you try. You try your best to get through to him even more. Sometimes, it seems as if you are getting where you want to; soon he gets comfortable lending you his clothes, and isn’t afraid to speak his mind when he has a compliment or two. He reassures you that he enjoys your company, be it 2 am or 2 pm, and no matter how many times he declares that hugs are not his thing, he gives you one when you need it anyway. You are smitten by these things among others, and you are happy. You think that maybe what you want for the both of you is just around the corner.
But it isn’t.
Even if you look into his eyes to let him see the galaxies of your emotions and tell him how you feel under the clearest skies, he will still not love back, at least, not in the way you want him to. It isn’t enough. How can he return something he doesn’t feel? You twist the words around in your mouth, feeling it on your tongue. Best friend.
“I always thought you just saw us like I did – as best friends.”
Certain things have a way of sticking out to you. They can go on and on for hours in your mind. The day you told him about your feelings, what stuck out was how earnest he was when he said he thought both of you saw each other only as best friends, so earnest that you almost believed it too. Almost, but you couldn’t really. You always thought the two of you lingered on your words too long when you were together to be just best friends.
But when he said how he felt, you knew you were wrong no matter how hard you believed it. You were wrong because he didn’t love you back. He didn’t feel any relief or happiness over what you told him. He felt confused and he felt sorry. You hated how sorry he felt because he only acknowledged the fact that he could not feel for you what you feel for him, and that you were someone for whom he should feel pity for and God knew how much you didn’t want that. It only made you feel smaller than you already felt.
This was the cost of loving your Best friend when he didn’t. Naturally, you found yourself in tears a little later. It’s not at all like in the movies, where the world is suddenly stopping to give you time to mourn and cry silent, perfect tears in between poised sobs while occasionally closing your eyes. It’s more of the tears wherein you just have to keep pouring them out because if not you might explode or your chest might cave in or you might not be able to ever breathe again. You cry in unrefined sobs and when you think you’re done, it sinks in again and it’s like you just can’t stop. The world, however, doesn’t stop even if it feels like yours did. People will go on with their days and the days will go on regardless of how you feel. Nothing stops for you, and that is when you realize that you can’t just keep on being stagnant either, doing nothing worthwhile because something didn’t turn out the way you hope for. After all, when you feel as if you’ve hit rock bottom, the only way to go is up.
You tell him that you don’t want to see or talk to him for awhile. For awhile you say, but even you’re not sure how long it would take to talk to him again and not feel a pang of pain, or simply not feel anything past friendship for him. You’ll just have to see if you’ll be ready to talk to him in 2 weeks or 2 months, or if that time will ever come at all. He agrees to this, but doesn’t end it with a goodbye, because he knows the finality in one. So instead of goodbye, he gives you an “I’ll see you around in the future” This gives you the tiniest sliver to hold on to. Maybe someday the two of you can still be a friend to one another. You have always valued your friendship first, and even more than wanting to be in a relationship with him, you wanted him to stay for a long time as your best friend. Ironic how staying away from him now can possibly keep him close in the future.
Keeping this in mind, you do it. You cut off all contact with him. You know that in a way, you are doing this for him; so that he doesn’t have to feel uncomfortable around you and so that he can still keep you as a friend at least.
But more than that, you know that you are doing this for you. Because happiness is a choice, and it never came from trying to hold on to something that wasn’t there in the first place. You decide to let go and move on. You busy yourself and try new things. You don’t notice your progress at first but you’ll see it seep out of the littlest things. Days pass. You learn and you grow and you heal.
Somehow, it’s easier now, and you realize how loving your Best friend even though he didn’t love you back changed the way you saw things.
Then it hits you; this isn’t the end of the road for you, or any road at all. It’s only the beginning.