What do you do when you truly, truly love the shit out of someone……but not in that way?
No, but really, that’s not a rhetorical question. Because whatever I did, it was the opposite of what I should’ve done. This is one of those posts I don’t want to write, but I know I’m going to have to face it sooner or later.
I fucked up. In a big way.
Let’s start with a synopsis: I hooked up with a coworker, gave him false hope, crushed his soul, hooked up with him again, refused to even go on a date with him, then crushed his soul again. And we still sit next to each other eight hours a day, five days a week.
Sam. A true gem among humans. He’s one of those people who tries really hard to be hated, but unfortunately for him I’m one of those people who took his attitude as a personal challenge. That, coupled with the timing of it all, made what could’ve been a nothing into a big, fat, ugly something.
I started on a new team–Sam’s team–at work almost a year and a half ago. About a month into my new job, I experienced one of the darkest times of my entire life.
January: I start on the new team at work. I’m overwhelmed, stressed, feeling inadequate, and have no friends on my team yet.
March: I break up with my boyfriend, but it was ultimately pretty mutual. We’d been dating for three and a half years and I’d always assumed we’d get married.
April: I wonder if I’ve made a horrible mistake and borderline beg my ex to get back together with me. The crippling weight of missing him feels unbearable. ‘Heaviness’ is the closest word to adequately describe the fog that hung on this month.
May: My best friend attempts suicide. Nothing, nothing, will make you feel more helpless than this phone call, especially when you are miles and miles away. She’s admitted to an inpatient mental health facility where she has no means of communication except for the timed phone call every so often. I still fight the urge to throw up when I think about it.
A lot of things happened at once and I won’t get further into the nitty-gritty, but I wanted to explain the background so maybe you’ll be able to understand why I was/am so attached to him and forgive me after you read this. Or maybe I’m just trying to make excuses for my behavior.
Sam. Sweet, weird, honestly sometimes horrible, Sam. He provided an unexpected relief in my life at a time I needed it most. And I abused it.
I knew that I pushed the boundaries when I flirted with him. I knew that I was going to hurt his feelings. I knew that this would all end badly, but I did it anyway because I’m selfish and also human.
For a long time, whether he knows it or not, he was the only reason I would make it out of bed and into the office. We rarely talked about the shit going on in my life and vice versa. Instead, we talked about conspiracy theories, weird Craigslist postings, the funniest Always Sunny episodes, who we should pull pranks on, etc. etc. etc. He took my mind off of everything and I quickly grew attached to him.
I still to this day feel so fiercely protective of the soft spot in my heart for Sam.
The end of July we kissed. I was drunk off my rocker and we kissed. Even through the haze of alcohol, I knew it was a mistake because I just don’t feel that way about him. But he stayed over anyway and we staggered our leaving times the next morning so we wouldn’t walk into the office at the same time. The moral hangover was worse than the physical one, and that’s saying a lot.
Mid-October we kissed again. I wasn’t drunk, just needy. We’d run into each other in an unlikely bar and our friends immediately ditched us because we dove into our pool of inside jokes that weren’t funny to anyone else. 3:00 am found us sitting on the rim of the Neptune Fountain across from the Capitol. I knew I should go home, but the loneliness and strong feeling of attachment to him made me stay. We put a penny in the mouth of one of Neptune’s horses and swore we’d come back when it was warm again and swim through the fountain to see if it was still there. And we kissed.
I wouldn’t go on a date with him. I toyed with him. I’d flirt with him, then he’d overhear me talking to my coworker about another guy I’d gone on a date with and he’d hate me. For awhile, his spurts of hatred for me would dissipate and I continued to cruelly cling to him, then turn him down, which left him confused and resentful. As time passed, his spurts of hatred turned into days, which turned into weeks, then months.
At work, he’d leave any room I was in. He wouldn’t look at me, much less speak to me. There wasn’t a specific incident–a blowout–that had compelled him to straight up stop speaking to me, I think he just woke up one day and was fed the fuck up and simply couldn’t do it anymore.
After a few months of this, I finally pulled him into a conference room and made him talk to me. I knew that I’d hurt his feelings, but I was frustrated nonetheless.
“Why won’t you talk to me? What’s your problem?” I asked.
“You just don’t get it,” he kept saying. “You don’t get it.”
“Get what?!” I asked.
“It took everything in me every single morning to come into work because I knew I’d have to be around you. How am I supposed to get over you if I’m around you all day? If you’re just here, all the time, being you? You really don’t get it, do you? I guess I never really told you how I felt. How much I felt. Maybe it’s my fault. Maybe I should’ve told you. I just need space now. I need you to let me have space.”
“I’m sorry,” I replied, my mouth dry. I was disgusted with myself for forcing him into this oatmeal colored conference room to satisfy my own selfish desire to talk to him again.
He left. I stayed and cried. Then hated myself for being the one crying when it was my fault from the beginning. Then cried more because I hated myself.
A few weeks ago, Sam stopped avoiding eye contact with me. Slowly, we’re becoming friends again. It’s taking all of my self-control to not fall back into my old habits with him, but it’s hard.
How do you find the normal balance of friendship with someone you’ve only ever treated like a lifeboat?
Still trying to figure it out, btw.