Monday 19 January 2015

The One That Got Away

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In the process of writing my first book I've uncovered a lot of things about myself and the people I knew around the times that I wrote my diaries in high school.

One of the most profound things I finally realized was about one of the guys from my class at school.

My core focus school-wise was on two things: getting through it and my undying love for one particular guy.

With every entry that I wrote, then every chapter I started writing, a myriad of emotions spewed forth around this one guy who was always unattainable which is possibly why I was so drawn to him.

He was, for lack of a better term, the 'best of all breeds'. There was very little he was bad at which I supposed made him the alpha male in a way. I was the only one (as far as I know) that was hopelessly in love with him and pretty much everyone knew it and found it a source of wonderment and amusement given that I spent my entire high school career waiting for some sign that he reciprocated.

From around year 7 though, there was another guy in my class who was a friend of this guy and whom quite a few people in the class said liked me although I refused to believe it.

At my school there were the popular kids which were a mixture of religious and non-religious. Each had grown up together in a clique and simply joined forces upon being enrolled in the school.

For me, having also grown up with the religious group but never finding a comfortable place with them, found the only other place in being an outcast.

Since everyone else in the class seemed to enjoy teasing me about my intense crush, when this other guy did I just lumped him in the same pile as everyone else. It never occurred to me (until recently) that when he asked if I still liked my crush, he was doing so because he actually liked me.

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In fact, I remember at least once talking to the year advisor and telling on the kids for saying that the other guy liked me. I thought it was some insanely cruel joke they were playing on me and was more than I could bare. No one cared enough to make the effort to be a friend to me, so taking it one step further and saying that one of the popular guys liked me seemed like rubbing acid into a gaping wound.

I kind of felt like Laney in 'She's All That', except I wouldn't have even given the guy a chance to be any kind of friend since I'd been too badly hurt and too suspicious of his motives. In my mind, a popular guy never genuinely likes the loner outcast girl, it was always a prank.

It's kind of hilarious when I think about it though. The number of times I'd written 'I think this guy likes me' and given a brief example of what he'd done to make me think it. I'd spent so long chasing the Rachel to my Ross, it never occurred to me that I was someone else's Rachel.

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Most of the time the other guy would chat me up in class, randomly raid my school diary or pencil case which I just assumed he did out of boredom and refused to acknowledge the possibility that he might actually feel something for me. On occasion he'd saying something particular nasty to me which just made me mentally label him as a jerk. Although he wouldn't say it a malicious way, more so in a 'if a guy is mean to you it means he likes you' kind of way.

The realization only dawned on me about a year or so ago. One of the guys I'd been working with reminded me a fair bit of the other guy but I didn't think too much of it. I got the same 'I think he likes me' vibe from the work guy too, but given his relationship status, told myself not to overthink it which had become habit for me.

Around the time the work guy was leaving to embark on a new career, I was in the midst of summarizing diary entries and started to pick up on some incredibly subtle clues from him that maybe I wasn't overthinking to much and in fact I was right, despite his present status.

After we had our goodbyes and agreed to stay friends, I mulled it over for a bit and it seemed to unlock something in my mind which I'd never realized was shut. Based on the subtle hints he'd given, if he'd been single there would have been a chance for something between us. A guy that I liked, liked me back. The notion dumbfounded me.

When I resumed working on my diary entries sometime later, with the new knowledge that I now had I started looking at my memories of the other guy in a completely different light. Maybe what people said was true, maybe he did actually like me and had really been waiting for me to get over my crush so he could make his move.

I was mindblown. I felt like Joey in the episode of Friends where Ross comes to pick up his red jumper and immediately Monica and Phoebe know he's the father of Rachel's baby. Joey sits there oblivious for a few seconds before it hits him. That was me, just stretched out for like 10 years or so.

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I thought about it a bit more as I flipped through my diary ecstatically, rereading other evidence I'd gathered to support my thought process.

I'd noted down when I found out he had a girlfriend and wondered if so many years later they were still together and if maybe now was the time to see if there was something between us which could have been all those years ago.

The more I thought about it the more idea appealed to me. I was single, had enough self-esteem that I was able to finally get over my crush, my best friend who'd had a crush on that guy had since gotten married, and by my calculations he'd spent 4 years trying to get my attention, that's some kind of commitment there. If he were single and still felt something, maybe we could make it work.

I was so excited by the mere thought that someone had liked me back in high school, it almost felt like an achievement. I told one of my close friends at dance class the abridged version which she thought was entertaining, and as most people did, was amused that I was so surprised by the revelation.

Much to my immense dismay though, upon a quick Facebook search I found that he was about to marry the same girl I'd written down that he'd started dating several years ago. My 'inner Harlot' wondered if maybe I still had time to remind him of how he'd felt all those years ago even though I knew it was pathetic to go down that path.

Still reeling from the impact of the realization several months later, I went on a shameful stalking spree and found some pictures from their wedding. They looked like a happy couple and the comments written about their wedding indicated they were a perfect match and everyone in attendance had agreed. I had to admit he did look good in his wedding attire, he'd grown up a lot in the 10 years since I'd last seen him which was to be expected, but ultimately he looked happy, that's all I could ever ask for anyone really.

I couldn't help but wonder what things would have been like if I was the person that I am today but back in high school. If I hadn't spent or I suppose wasted, so much time on someone who couldn't return my affections, and if my best friend hadn't liked the guy that liked me which I counted as one of the main reasons why I wouldn't have done anything back in the day, but it also explained the tensions between her and I. She liked him, he liked me, she resented the fact that he liked me, I thought she was just being nasty and he was an idiot and wondered why I was caught in the crossfire.

If, back in high school, he or I had made a move and ended up dating, how would that have changed things? Or more accurately, if I was the person I am today back then, what would things be like now? I've done a great deal of soul searching and spent years in therapy in order to get to where I am today and have the amazing people in the my life that I do. Would that still be the same? Would I still like the music that I do or have relied on it so heavily to get me through life? Would I have followed the same career or life path as I'm on now?

He was a popular religious guy, I was an unpopular religious girl who disliked religion. I had the partial responsibility of looking after my mentally ill mother which meant I didn't really get to be a kid. He was one of the biggest kids I'd ever met, I didn't think he'd ever be able to understand or appreciate what responsibility was for a very long time, if ever. I do think though that if we had ended up together for at least some period of time during high school, it would have been fun which is what I needed but didn't want since I didn't know what to do with fun, it was such a foreign concept to me.

Since then, I've found myself pondering why he liked me and foolishly overcompensating whenever I meet someone knew in the hopes that they too will like me and I can finally enter a relationship with someone as he ended up doing. It felt like kind of like how when something doesn't work and you randomly do something to make it work again but you cannot for the life of you figure out what you did the first time to make it work, so you do a bit of everything a few too many times and it just ends up failing miserably.

When I told some of my closest friends that it was plaguing me that I didn't know what he saw in me that no one, not even I saw in myself and I desperately wanted to ask him regardless of how inappropriate it was, they all told me the same thing: I needed to let it go and just accept that he did and that I have a lot of redeeming qualities that many people would and do find attractive. To me it seemed like I had to have done something in order for him to like me, I couldn't just be liked for who I am because that's what I had been doing, or at least I thought I had, and everyone seemed to disappear in the opposite direction.

Part of me wondered, if he'd fought harder to get me, would I have believed him then? Given that he was a fairly childish and immature teenage boy. If he'd seriously sat next to me in class when everyone else was scared of getting rabies as one of the girls had started a rumor about me having, would that have changed my thinking or would I just have freaked out given how sheltered and inexperienced I was with being around guys in general?
If things had been different, if we'd dated and fallen hopelessly for each other, would we still be together and possibly married now? Would we be happy, given how much life can change? Or would he still have moved away, we lost contact and he ends up as he is now?

When I talked to my Kids Help Line counselor for the last time a few months ago and mentioned my dilemma she told me I was focusing on missed opportunities rather than having an actual interest in the guy that got away. It made a lot of sense and my therapist agreed with her. She reminded me that I was, and am, a vibrant, lovely, caring and beautiful person with an incredible brain and personality and it's not hard to see why someone would like me even if I have trouble seeing it for myself.

I still consider myself a work in progress, I guess in a way we all are until we either figure things out and learn to accept whatever life throws as us, or we die trying. I think it's one of those things that will matter less and less as time goes by and I learn to believe in myself and my abilities a little bit more. At least I can take a few heartfelt lessons from it: 1. Someone did like me for me, regardless of how hard it is for me to believe. 2. One day there will be someone else who won't get away, nor will they try or want to. 3. I'm not the only one.

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