Spring Forward, Fall Back

I just looked at the last post I wrote which was Friends Without Benefits, on the 15th October. Eleven days ago. I’m sure you’re all wondering what has been happening in those eleven days, so I’ll do my best to fill you in. As you’ll remember, I blocked my male friend on Facebook and What’s App, which was hard but a necessary enforced separation for me.

Spring forward.

It took him almost a week, but once he realised what I’d done and he read that last blog, he sent me a very heartfelt email. He understood the reasons why but still felt hurt that I hadn’t explained to him before cutting him out of my life completely. That is one of the downsides of this blog; while I may have posted a blog about what is happening in my life, how I feel, what has happened, sometimes I forget that not everyone reads my blogs, or just because I’ve written a blog it doesn’t mean that is the end of the conversation.

His email ended with the offer of friendship, should I really need it, and the hope that we would one day become friends again. He also said that he would respect my wish for distance, and after the email would not contact me again.

I suppose I should have expected him to react rather than just go along with it. Unfortunately for me, the arrival of his email coincided with the monthly work pub quiz. I read it during my first pint, but two pints and two large glasses of red wine later meant that I did what comes naturally to me when sober. I called him. Two drunken voicemails later, he called me back, a conversation which somehow lasted 55 minutes.

Mostly it was me crying and him talking, I don’t even really remember everything that was said. I do know however that one conversation opened up the floodgates again.

Fall back.

The few days after that all I wanted to do was call him, to talk to him again. Not to let him go. Not to go back to that horrible separation that left me feeling so alone. I did call once but it went to his voicemail. He tried to call back but by then I had started to regret the call, so I didn’t return it.

Every so often I get a pang of longing for our friendship, especially when I get stressed, which happens a lot lately. But I know that there is no other way it can be. The distance is helping. Although today is the one day of the year that you can turn back time (at least in the UK), there is no turning back time for this relationship. The foundations are crumbling because we tried to build them using different materials; he used friendship, I used friendship mixed with hope and that hope is what brought about the deterioration of those foundations. Perhaps in the future once all the hope is gone I can bring something that will solidify those foundations for good. Until then, I will do what I can to live my life without him.

Spring forward, fall back. Hurt is a necessary cog in the clockwork of life. The hurt may push you back, but in it you find a way to move forward again. Like the clocks that go back and forth twice a year, the action of one completes the other.

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Friends Without Benefits

I have written before about how Billy Crystal was right about men and women not being able to be friends, and how he was right. Well, in case you wondered, he is still right.

Recently I parted ways with a male friend after I finally decided I couldn’t deal with just being friends. It started out with a sort of agreeing to not talk or meet up. We still stayed Facebook friends, and he would like statuses or pictures I shared, and every time his name popped up on my notifications my heart skipped a beat, knowing he was still there. It became though that I would open up Facebook to look for likes from him.

On Saturday, I was making lunch when I had this sudden urge to unfriend him on Facebook. I get these feelings sometimes, you could call it a kind of sixth sense, an intuition which is trying to tell me something, and in fact has happened with him on more than one occasion. It also happened with the last guy I was really into; I dreamt that he left his wife and was seeing someone else just a week before I approached him to find out where I stood with him. Of course, he had left his wife and was seeing somebody else, and wondered why this crazy girl was sat in his office asking whether anything was ever going to happen between them, when “nothing had happened”. He was right, of course, nothing had. But he had given me a tiny bit of hope some two years before, and believing that he was my soulmate, the one I was supposed to be with since I was 12, I had gripped that hope so hard for so long my knuckles were white. I couldn’t let go until I was far away, in a place that didn’t remind me of him. A place where I could move on. But I didn’t move on, not really. Because a few months before I had that conversation with him, the first face-to-face conversation we’d ever had, I had met the man I truly believed was “the one”. And that guy was my male friend.

We met on a dating website on Christmas Eve. A few days later, we had a wonderful first date over coffee, and I remember how he kissed me for the first time, and told me how he wasn’t disappointed at all in meeting me. It’s funny how I remember him saying that. Perhaps it’s because internet dating is full of disappointments, and I’ve had so many unsuccessful dates since that I cherish that one date where the guy was so positive about meeting me.

Anyway, less than a month later and it was over, and though we made an agreement to stay friends, we didn’t live nearby so our friendship was mainly limited to the occasional game of Words with Friends. It wasn’t until we both found ourselves living in London that we really spent more time together. Too much time really; a lack of other friends and direction in life for both of us chained us together. I poured my heart out to him about all my problems living in London, over living situations, work stresses, even disastrous dates. He was always there for me, offering advice and a shoulder to cry on. It became more than that for a while, although it was nothing more than friendship and sex. But very amazing sex, certainly the best I had ever had. But that came to a stop when I had to admit that I harboured feelings for him, feelings that he could not return. Once again we still remained friends, and I clinged to the hope that one day he would realise that I was the one he loved, the one that was stood right before him. He was only supposed to be in London for a year before moving back up North. As the end of the year approached, I started to feel panic that he would leave without me, and I would have to face up to the fact that he still didn’t have feelings for me. It started affecting me in a big way. But then his contract got extended by two months and he started talking about staying in London. And panic was once again replaced by hope. And this time the hope was big.

But hope was not enough. Because I couldn’t shake the feeling that I had to face the facts. That he didn’t feel that way about me. Whether he stayed or not, it was becoming time to face reality. Sadly, this realisation coincided with him meeting somebody else. And I realised that I had been so wrong, because he had never felt about me the way he did about her.

Back to Saturday. As I opened Facebook to unfriend him, a photo came up that he had shared. One of those stupid memes like the ones I myself have been sharing lately. And this one made me mad, so I made a snotty comment. He made one back, then I made another. Twelve words later, and I had unfriended him over handbags. And I found myself wondering why I hadn’t listened to my intuition and just unfriended him in the first place, before our already fragile relationship could deteriorate further.

Since then, I have been ok. Mostly. I still think of him though, and worse, I think of him with the girl he has met.

Last night he sent me a message on What’s App, asking how the flat hunting was going. I replied, he wished me luck, and I replied thanks. But today I have found myself checking What’s App, seeing when he was last online, hoping for another message from him. And I realise how hard this separation process is going to be. Because I have to be the one to walk away. Staying friends is not an option. Facebook friends is not an option. What’s App friends is not an option. So with a heavy heart I stop writing this blog to block him on What’s App.

Enforced distance is the only way I can get over this. They say absence makes the heart grow stronger, but I disagree. Absence makes you forget. It numbs the pain. And removes all traces of hope.

I listen to the heavy rain outside, and know the same rain pours in my heart. I have lost a friend because I can’t deal with the pain of feelings unrequited. The friend who always offered me an umbrella when it rained. Now it pours, and it is all I can do to stop myself getting soaked to the bone.

How Am I Supposed to Live Without You – Michael Bolton (1990)

Restless in London

I woke up this morning, as I have many times in the last week or so, with a sinking feeling. At least it’s not as bad as it was last Saturday. I woke up in my friends’ flat in Manchester, ready to help pack boxes ready for their move to London, but I could not shake the feeling I woke up with, and this will sound dramatic, but it was the feeling of impending doom. Luckily the move came off without a hitch, and the feeling had disappeared by the following day.

Today all I want to do is call you. To check if you are ok, for you to see how I am. I miss our morning phone calls.

But I guess that was part of the problem. Even though it’s been a long time since we physically shared a bed, you were there most mornings, to cheer me up when I was down, or to just be there to say good morning and share our feelings on the day ahead. But I am a single girl, and I should get used to the fact that from the time I wake up until the time I say “Morning” as I walk in the office, that the only person I will speak to is my cat. I have a housemate but he is never up before I leave for work.

One of the reasons I’m in this pickle is because for all intents and purposes, I made you my surrogate boyfriend. You were the man I turned to for everything. When I won tickets to see Ryan Adams, you were the first person I asked to go with me. You already had other commitments, and of course, I ended up going alone. Maybe that was meant to be. The universe’s way of telling me that I won’t be getting what I want. But the fact is, I should not have made you my first choice. Because I will never be yours. And to quote Walter, Bill Pullman’s character from Sleepless in Seattle, I don’t want to be anybody’s second choice.

So I will resist the urge to ring you. Or Facebook message you. Or text you. Or Whatsapp you. Just know that I am thinking about you, and that I hope you are ok. The cessation of our friendship will not be having the same effect on you as on me, but I know that you will be missing having a friend there, as you too work through your own life problems. I wish I could be there for you, but I can’t. For my own sake, I have to become the strong person you were always telling me I need to be.

I hope one day that we will be friends again. For now, I have no choice but to write about how I feel, because I know that calling won’t do either of us any good.

When Men and Women Really Shouldn’t Be Friends

Once upon a time, there was a beautiful princess, although she really didn’t know how beautiful she was. She spent hours up in the tower dreaming of the day she would meet her perfect prince.

One day, the princess got fed up of waiting for her prince to come and rescue her from the tower. She had heard of a witch who could arrange unions between princes and princesses so one day she took a carriage to the witch’s house, far off in the deep, dark woods.

It was a cold, dim, dark-looking place with big black bats flapping around. Surrounding the house was a moat filled with plenty o’ big toothed fishes.

The princess crossed the moat bridge and knocked on the big wooden door. A crackly voice shrieked, “Enter!”

Inside was the most scary witch the princess had ever seen.

“So you want to meet a prince, do you?” the witch asked in her crackly voice.

The princess replied yes.

“Drink this potion, and soon you will meet your prince.” She handed the princess a purple bottle containing a dark liquid, which bubbled inside.

The princess was so desperate to meet her prince that she took the bottle without a second thought and gulped down the black liquid.

The witch began to cackle. The princess, who was suddenly feeling very scared, hitched up her dress and fled from the witch’s house.

Soon after her visit to the witch’s house, she saw a gallant knight at a jousting tournament. He was handsome and brave, and as the princess watched him battling the other knights she knew he could be her perfect prince. After the tournament, the princess searched everywhere for her knight but he was nowhere to be found. She asked one of the other knights where he lived and sent him a scroll by carrier pigeon, asking if he would like to meet her at the next jousting tournament. To her delight, the knight agreed.

Their first meeting was wonderful. Although the princess was surrounded by many chiselled knights at the tournament, she only had eyes for the knight. And he only had eyes for her.

The knight and princess had a few more dates. But the knight could see that the princess wanted far more than he could ever give her, so he did the valiant thing and told the princess he could not be the prince that she wanted him to be. The princess was devastated. They had a long conversation and agreed that they would stay friends. But their friendship was limited mainly to playing Ye Olde Wordes With Ye Friends.

A few months later, the princess moved to the big city to start a new life. She had hopes of finding a career, and hopefully a prince. The princess found it hard in the city, at times feeling even more isolated than she did when she lived in the tower.

One day the princess received a message by carrier pigeon. It was from the knight, telling her that he too was moving to the city. The princess was overjoyed, and had high hopes that their romance could be rekindled.

When the knight arrived, they started to spend time together. There was an obvious spark between the two. After a while, the princess invited the knight to share her four-poster bed, which he did.

While they had a lot of fun in the four-poster, there was never any romance away from the confines of the castle. This disappointed the princess, because as much as the princess cared for the knight, she knew that although he was fond of her, he did not share the same feelings. She thought back to her visit to the witch’s house, remembering the potion she drank. She knew there was only one way to break the witch’s spell.

The princess had to admit her feelings to the knight. They agreed that he would no longer share the four-poster with her. But they still kept a close friendship. The princess was again very upset, but thought that at least now she would be free of the witch’s spell.

Over the next few months, the princess met new princes, who usually turned into frogs when she kissed them. The princess would always end up being disappointed, and her friend the knight offered her a shoulder to cry on.

The knight and princess spent a lot of time together, attending jousting tournaments and medieval feasts. The princess continued to have feelings for the knight, but kept them quiet, for she knew the consequences should she ever reveal them to the knight.

One day, the knight met another princess. Although he tried to keep it from the princess, for he knew she did not like to hear such tales, eventually he had to tell her. The princess could tell how much the knight liked the other princess, and was very jealous. But she knew in her heart that he would never want her in the way he wanted the other princess.

So the princess confessed her true feelings. The knight was confused, because he could not understand how the princess could still hold a torch for him after all this time. She told him about the witch’s potion and he asked if there was an antidote. The princess told him there was none.

The knight and the princess talked late into the night. The knight asked the princess if she wanted to end their friendship. While the princess knew this was probably the only way to get over the witch’s spell, she could not bear to be parted from the knight. Because he too valued his friendship with the princess, and worried for her being alone in the city, he also could not be the one to walk away.

This sad tale ends here. Far away in the deep, dark forest, the witch cackles.

The Twelve-Week Challenge: Day 10

With all endings, comes goodbyes.  Or rather, till we meet again.  I had one of those moments today with one of my oldest friends (as in how long we’ve known each other!).  Over a Starbucks, we reminisced how next year would be our 20th anniversary of being friends, having met at the first place I ever worked at, Stapleton & Co Estate Agents in Lincoln.  I was 15, and my friend, Sarah, was 20.  We’ve been through so much together, and I will miss our regular chats over posh coffee.  Tomorrow I will meet another friend, someone else I’ve known for a long time, and that will be another step towards leaving town, and leaving the friends I’ve known for years, through the good times and the bad.

It took me a long time to appreciate good friends.  After I left school, I had a great distrust for so-called friends, and for many years, while I had no problems trusting men (unlike a lot of women I knew), I did struggle to trust female friends (I didn’t have any male friends, which is probably why I have such issues with men).  I think those who have been my friends the longest are those who were the exception.

In my mid-twenties, I began to realise that I didn’t need to keep people in my life, if they were bringing me down, or using me in some way.  I had, to be blunt, a “clear out” and those people are no longer in my life.  Since then, you pretty much only get one chance with me; blow it, and you’re out.  Life’s too short to have bad friends.  That doesn’t mean you can’t be forgiven, but you’ve got to work damn hard to make sure I’m not going to regret letting you back in.  Saying that, I love meeting new people, and I’m always happy to make new friends.

I am a firm believer that people do come into your life for varying times and reasons.  Not everyone will stay forever.  Some people will be there only while you need them, likewise you may appear in their life for a specific reason.  There are people I’ve lost contact with over the years, and I do regret that, but with social media, there’s always a chance that we may be reunited.

What I want to say though, I guess, is that despite the fact I’m moving hundreds of miles away, I know my true friends will always be there for me, and they know that I’ll be there for them.  Distance will never wreck a good friendship, be it over land or sea.  Through the tough times, the fun times, the very, very shitty times, I’d like to thank all my friends for being there for me, and to remind them, you’ve got a friend in me.