By: Lanisha D. Porter
"....Although he was nothing to me he was very much something to me. It was almost sickening how loyal I had become to the potential we had even though the potential never promised to be a commitment."
Whenever I tried to polarize my emotions I still didn't feel like I was making a good decision. If I completely dropped him I could be missing out on a good thing; comparatively if I stayed unclear about what we were and if we were headed anywhere, I could've just wasted good time and energy. Confused on whether to pull myself left or right I just stayed in the middle...in the gray. In the gray area we existed by no set of rules, accountability or obligations but mostly by season. Whenever he felt like reaching out I answered. I went months at a time without hearing a whisper from him and with 900 miles between us it was always a pleasure to hear from him while I was away at college. I was hopeful but not sold on this idea of us because there were fundamental differences between us such as our age. To renew my hope I started to convince myself this was alright because it was happening very slow and slow was good. Slow was good in my mind because when you can delay instant gratification you make it to a deeper place and it lasts longer with a richer appreciation. If good things come with patience I believed this could very well have been a good thing.
Before I continue, let me catch you up on this guy. I met him my senior year of high school when I was 17 turning 18. Being pulled in every direction almost nearing insanity, he became my “thing-to-look-forward-to” each day in the height of preparing for graduation, and life-after-high school. I really liked this guy and all his conversation. For me he was exciting and new because he had a mysterious reserve about him. We built a friendship through phone and an entire year went by before we ever even made plans to hang out. When I left to New York for college I shared with him that I really liked him and had hoped to build something. His response to me was to focus on college and enjoy it and that we couldn’t be because we were in different places in our lives. That was hard to accept because I already had emotional convictions about this guy. What made it hurt so bad however, was that he kept making sporadic entrances and exits in my life.
I'm a very black or white person who doesn't really like gray areas so it's even bizarre to me to explain why I stayed there for two years with this guy. Although he was nothing to me he was very much something to me. It was almost sickening how invested I was loyal to the potential we had even though the potential never promised to be a commitment. So, in between two years of complete gray area I allowed myself to fall in love with all of these ideas and possibilities of what I could have with this guy. Oddly enough, he wasn't mine though; he was just a figment of my imagination. He probably didn't even know how enamored he had me. Although we were “friends” I always felt like it spilled over into being more but I never wanted to stake a claim because I could be wrong… I could get my feelings hurt if he didn't feel the same way.
Angry with his emotional unavailability, I had my days where I would just delete every trace of him and tell myself that I wouldn't go through with this “situationship” that was only nurtured through text messages and social media. But then I would get a “thinking of you” message or a photo-like that would completely captivate me again. Out of sight, out of mind is what I thought but every time he galloped his way back into my life he dominated my thoughts. Now, I know what you’re thinking but it should be duly noted that I never ever shared any physical intimacy with this guy—not even a kiss. So why was I so high off of this man? Well that’s what I’m still trying to figure out to this very day; he had touched me without even ever touching me.
Though his appearances in my life were awkwardly sudden I still interpreted that as his way of saying wait for me. He wasn't telling me yes but he wasn't telling me no so I just found some middle ground for us. I gave him tacit approval that I would wait because even after he would text me "hey stranger" I’d willingly jump back into elation. Clearly I wasn't the stranger but I'd let it flow but deep down inside I was keeping tally all of this.
“I didn’t stay unclear for 2 years because I was dumb or naïve, but because if love is patient, kind and keeps no record of wrongdoing—how 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 professes it to be—I wanted to be in line with that and not my own pride. ”
I decided this situation could be very good or very bad. Maybe the lesson was to wait for what you want or, the polar opposite which is, never wait for a guy. I continued to push my boundaries and accept things I normally wouldn't accept like inconsistency and minimal communication. Why? Because I thought if I do something I've never done I might get something I've never had…a real relationship built on patience, kindness and perseverance. I have always been that very black or white girl leaving little to no margin to be confused in my affairs. I was always in control demanding form and structure. Sometimes it worked out for me and other times it didn’t so this time I decided to relax a bit and “go with the flow.” I didn’t stay unclear for 2 years because I was dumb or naïve, but because if love is patient, kind and keeps no record of wrongdoing—how 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 professes it to be—I wanted to be in line with that and not my own pride.
Often I found myself hopelessly rereading text messages and looking at pictures when I felt myself distant from him. This somewhat helped the void. This somewhat kept me in “like” with him. It was something small but easy to revive my dying feelings. Sooner or later my worst fear dawned on me…maybe he wasn’t my guy. Possibly he wasn’t the guy I idealized him to be through stolen glimpses, text messages and Facebook pictures. I knew all the surface things about him but I didn’t know the details about him which drove me completely insane.
One day I just got really bold and I declared to know what “this” was…I wanted to know what we were...or at least, what did we have potential to be. I needed clarity after these 2 years filled with anxiety and quiet expectations. Before heading out to my Philosophy class I sent the text message that could either endanger “what we had” or certify it. He responded but he was still talking in gray language—he said something along the lines of “it’s not you, it’s me. You are perfect but the age difference… we live two different lifestyles… our career paths differ… I don’t want to mess up our friendship...I want you to enjoy your college years…the long distance makes it hard.” As you could imagine that’s not what I wanted to hear; I needed a clear answer. I needed him to stamp my walking papers so I could make a graceful exit and be sure I wasn’t missing out on anything. I wanted to be sure there wasn’t any potential in the 2 years I spent quietly waiting for him. I don’t think he understood that though being that his answer kept me dangling.
Moreover, I was disappointed because if he studied me as much as I studied him and the possibility of us, he would’ve seen clearly how much we complemented each other and how our career paths actually didn’t differ. Being that he missed that observation made me suspect he wasn’t nearly as interested in me as I was in him. Therefore I took control to end what was never really started. I was completely tired of feeling like an afterthought. In the end I felt I got the short end of the stick because I never got any closure; I never got to express my anger, my hurt or my frustrations.
It was hard to explain my situation to people because I always sounded like the fool...wasn't it my own fault that I allowed myself to get this carried away with the idea of us when he already warned me that he had reservations. I always gave him my best attention and energy because for me that was a courtesy but it was hardly ever reciprocated. I can't say that he's a bad guy because he did tell me he didn't want a relationship but in our sweet exchange of romances I thought that would sway.
After my decision to let it go (or at least I wanting to let it go), I made it my business for five weeks to stop going on his pages, to stop looking at his pictures, and to just stop thinking about him period. I wanted to reset my attachment to zero. But one day I got a text message from an unknown number and it started all over again. I felt ambivalent...upset that he thought he could just pop back in but happy that he wanted me to be a part of his new beginning. You don't give someone your new number unless you want them to have a means of communication with you so I digested that as yet another subliminal hint screaming “I want you.” However, that didn’t make it any easier to talk with him. Each time we went sometime without speaking I felt I needed to reacquaint myself with him, I couldn’t just pick up where we left off last.
Saying these last two years makes me dumb would be admitting to defeat, so rather I say these two years have been an honest adventure. Suspending everything I knew to see if I could find something new was just me growing and wandering. I was once told that growth doesn’t always happen through leaps and bounds but sometimes through ups and downs. I delayed my own instant gratification and in the end I came out empty handed but still full hearted and wiser. Maybe he's not the one and I have to accept that. There’s no doubt in my mind we truly could have had something extraordinarily beautiful if we worked at it. There was just enough difference there to keep it interesting, and enough similarities to have perfect symmetry. But you know…one person can’t want it. Both persons have to want it unconditionally. So in short that describes my situation with my "nobody."
As I close I will say I learned everything in love is a wager; it’s very difficult and you can never be completely sure of the outcome. If you try to protect yourself from getting hurt you are also keeping yourself from being happy. In finding your “one” there's nothing else you can do to make yourself more available. You can’t make yourself older, richer, prettier or less scared. It's a matter of having learned all the lessons you need to in order to be ready for that moment; It's a matter of knowing how to nurture, honor, respect and cherish that very special love the way you probably can't right now...because you haven't learned all your lessons. This lesson will make me an even better woman for the man who is supposed to cherish me and get drunk from my breasts as his wife. I'm not a victim and I will never look at myself as such. It was a bitter-sweet pain that bore me new wisdom to advance on with. I will never forget this experience where I opened myself to be vulnerable and go against the odds. One day I will somehow see how it all worked in my favor even if it’s with a different man than I had imagined.
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