I denied it.
Not only to others, but to myself as well. I acted as though those feelings I had for you were no longer there. I pretended that they were far in the past, buried by acceptance and new love interests and schoolwork and other fucking problems that were “more important” than some boy who couldn’t love me back.
I invalidated everything I felt about you because I didn’t think I had the right to feel it. You were my friend and that was all you were ever going to be. I had your answer, I knew my place, and so there was no point in continuing to acknowledge the aching in my chest and the longing in my heart.
And so, I didn’t talk about it.
I dodged your name in conversations, and expertly did not flinch when someone did bring you up. I acted unfazed, aloof. Totally stable and healed. We were friends, after all. I was fine! You were fine! We were fine! I just saw you last night!
To prove it further, I went on dates and hooked up with other guys. I promised myself before each of these encounters that I would not think of you while sitting across from another man. I would not wish it was you when the lips of someone else were pressed against mine.
And I broke my promise every damn time.
After all, you always came back. You always came back because you never really left.
Because the truth is that you can’t push away your feelings. You can act like they don’t exist, you can ignore the pain, but you can’t play make believe forever. Reality is relentless and will always comes knocking at your door. Eventually you have to let it in.
That time finally came earlier this year. I opened myself to the pain and the truth that we were never going to become something real. That you weren’t going to change your mind.
I let myself hurt and feel and cry and torment myself with what ifs and could bes and self blame and wishing I could have done things differently. I ricocheted between hating you and loving you and acceptance and back again. It was exhausting, but it was healing.
And this is how I got over you.
Slowly but surely, in bits and pieces and tears and denials. In admitting to myself that yes, I loved you deeply, and no you didn’t love me back, but you weren’t my only chance at finding happiness. You weren’t and you aren’t.
Someone else is out there. Many other people who could feel the same way.
Today I feel okay about you, about us. I don’t know if I’ll slip back into the pain, but it’s getting harder to go back. I still feel the sadness every now and then, I still feel the longing for things to be different, but my heart doesn’t ache the way it did before and the tears don’t flow how they once did.
And I think that’s a sure sign I’m getting there. Getting to the other side of you.