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3 beers and a glass of wine

our paths have re-aligned

it's been years since i've seen you

such a handsome face

beneath the beard i once knew

i'm a deadbeat romantic

to be present yet distracted

to be lost but to feel safe

it took me a while

to see what was right in front of me

and by the time i noticed

it was too late

timing was never on our side

who's to say we're any better now?

- - -

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"Silver Linings for a Troubled Soul" - A personal narrative

I had a friend, I've known him for a while but he only just recently came back into my life - briefly. A year or so ago, he was en route to becoming one of my best friends. Our sense of humor, aspirations, communication, thought-processes... Everything fit together so beautifully. 

 

He was in a relationship but they were ethically non-monogamous. Even so, I didn't see him as a lover, he was my friend and I didn't want to ruin the steadily growing relationship that was blossoming - I wanted a friend more than another failed relationship.

 

Over time, I could tell there was a buried layer of attraction, from him to me. I could sense it. The way he spoke with me, his gentle tone and friendly demeanor. The way he sat next to me, body always leaning slightly in my direction. The way he muttered things like, "no, you're beautiful" under his breath when I would put myself down.

 

I didn't want to ruin our friendship by adding a physical element. And I wasn't attracted to him the same way he was to me. I respected him as a person and I wanted him to become a constant in my life, unlike the abusive lovers of my past.

 

We were open and we shared our experiences, reflecting on our deepest, most personal thoughts. We bounced ideas back and forth, educating and inspiring one another. I was utterly comfortable with him, and he with me.

 

Our loving friendship helped restore my broken trust in men. Years of abuse slowly re-wrote themselves as I spent time with him.

Image by Cristofer Jeschke

One day we were in his living room, he was teaching me the mechanics of a rock climbing anchor.

 

Suddenly, it hit me. 

I was in denial. I was afraid. I lied to myself.

 

Suddenly, I noticed his strong yet delicate hands. His soft, dreamy eyes. His calm demeanor, and balanced composure. The fog of denial had lifted: I wanted him. 

 

But ethical non-monogamy is not something that's ever worked for me, and he was promised to someone else. After I finally left my (second) abusive relationship, I didn't trust men. I vowed to never put all my eggs in one basket because I've felt the pain of losing everything all at once. "Never again," I told myself.

 

For 4 years, I isolated my heart. I kept men, women - everyone at arm's length. Sure, I had needs, so I casually dated, but I never gave anyone my full attention, I never wholly loved or lost myself in anyone.

 

...I kept my feelings tucked away, and led my heart astray.

Image by Michał Mancewicz

On a cold weekend in November, we went on a climbing trip to Smith Rock. Stars shining bright across the night sky, occasional gust of wind. He told me about his past experiences, and taught me about rock climbing and mountaineering. He inspired me to do more, to push past my pre-conceived limitations, to chase the adventure I knew I wanted but was too afraid to act on.

 

We sat under the stars and shared a joint. Our hazy minds watched the sky intensely, waiting for little streaks of light to span the horizon, if only for moments at a time.

 

When it came time to sleep, we laid in the tent, shut the lights off, and curled up in our respective sleeping bags. We talked and laughed and hung out for some time. Then the conversation died, a cue that it was time to sleep.

 

We laid next to each other in silence until suddenly, he sat up. I looked up at him, unsure of what to say. Immersed in darkness, I couldn't see his face, but I knew he was looking down at me.

 

He didn't say a word. Neither did I.

 

We kissed and embraced each other wholly.

Image by Dexter Fernandes

It felt like a movie.

 

A troubled yet ambitious soul, afraid of loving. A generous outdoorsman who fell for the troubled soul, but could never fully embrace her.

 

He was promised to someone else. And although they were ethically non-monogamous, they had boundaries established. And during that trip, we crossed the boundary.

 

He was an honest man. He admitted his mistake to his promised one. In an attempt to mend the broken boundary, he had to cut all ties with me... I didn't want to ruin our friendship by adding a physical element, but that's exactly what happened.

 

And it hurt, a lot.

 

- - -

 

Months later, he reached out to me. He had parted ways with his promised one. He wanted to connect with me and mend our broken friendship. But like a movie, I had found someone, a promised one of my own. And with our history, I thought it inappropriate to reintroduce him into my life.

 

As fate would have it, months later, my promised one and I parted ways. I reached out to mend our broken friendship. But like a movie, he had found someone, a promised one of his own. And with our history, he thought it inappropriate to reintroduce me into his life.

 

I let him go after that. I told myself it just wasn't meant to be... timing was never on our side.

 

Until one day, as fate would have it, our paths crossed once again. I wanted to re-connect with him as a friend, but in the back of my head I knew this was the first time we were both un-promised at the same time. Maybe we could rekindle the old flame?

Image by Elijah Hiett

We met up on a rooftop bar tucked between city skyscrapers. We sat across from each other, a glistening fire illuminating our beautiful faces. As soon as he sat down, I noticed something different. His clean shaven face, a face I've never seen before. Once again, I noticed his soft eyes, his strong hands, his sculpted figure.

 

Over a year of experience and growth had done us both well. We were different, both better versions of ourselves. But it felt like old times, like I was catching up with an old friend I haven't seen in over a year. But this time, I wasn't going to lie about how I felt...

 

But as fate would have it, the feelings were not mutual. His recent relationship left a scar on him, one that hadn't quite healed when I re-entered his life. 

 

Like a movie, the roles were reversed. I was falling for him but he didn't feel the same. So much can change in a year, for better and for worse...

Rejection is unfortunate. I've felt this many times before and it never gets easier. But now I'm doing my best to heal, and I'm looking for the silver linings.

Even though he is no longer in my life, he's left me with valuable lessons that will stay with me forever:

After trauma, it takes a lot of time to regain the ability to trust. It's not easy but it is possible once you learn how to open your heart again. 

 

Don't ever lie to yourself about what your heart is trying to tell you. If you wait too long, you might miss your only opportunity.

 

Love is scary and rejection hurts deeply, but if you never put yourself out there, you will never know what could have been...

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