Last night, I wanted to tell you that if you ask ‘others’, what does 1 + 1 equal? The answer will be 2. No one will say 3 or 4 or 100014.5. Because no one sees the invisible spaces between the 1 and the + and the 1 again. Those invisible spaces, my ex-best friend, are where you and I reside. Correction, since your call last night, used to reside. So your other friends shall advise you like the objective, rational people they are. They’ll advise you like they would on which mutual fund to invest in, or what restaurant to take your parents out to dine in, or which firm to join. They’ll advise you, not knowing you like I do, not knowing me like you do. Not knowing anything about us worth knowing. And you’d listen, because that’s what you want to do, not because they are saying it.
I wanted to say all of this and so much more to you last night. But my voice was steady, hard even. I heard my words fluid and calm like the practiced movement of a surgeon lifting a scalpel to cut a deep incision in the body of our friendship. To my surprise, there was no blood. The bleeding bit was done. But the hurting bit wasn’t. I tossed and turned, and when sleep finally found me I dreamt broken dreams, my subconscious mind in as much disarray as my conscious mind.
I have never seen love as a bad thing, even when it hurt, which it does so much of the time. But for the first time I saw the curse of unrequited love. You fell in love with me. And I couldn’t love you back the same way. I wanted to, I tried to. But I couldn’t. And that is no one’s fault is it? But punishments are seldom dealt fairly. You told me that you couldn’t see me as a friend, that you’d never see me as a friend. That you love me too much, and that you’ll always love me and so…we can’t talk anymore. Ever. I wondered if you’d talk in terms of a year, or two, maybe three, but no. You tossed in forever so casually, expecting me to catch the word with just as much ease.
I tried to tell you to call me when you meet a girl and fall in love again. You refused. I understand that your emotions don’t allow you to see beyond a few feet into the future. But how can 26 years of living on planet Earth have not taught you that nothing is forever? Neither our promises, nor our loves, nor our bodies. You loving me forever is the most naïve declaration in the grand scheme of things. We inhabit an oval rock that floats listlessly, repetitively in pitch black nothingness. Its doom, like ours, inevitable.
But coming back to our ant existence, you’re hurting now, and that’s because of me. Of course you’ll say it isn’t my fault that I don’t feel the same way. I know that too. But when you tell me you, the boy who never cries, cried because of this, all I think about is how your life would’ve been if you’d never met me. Like an alternate universe where we decided not to overcome our initial dislike of one another. Would you have been happier? Would I have been happier? Crazy, futile questions buzz around my head, and answers have long turned into myths written in a cryptic language in a place far, far away. I hate the fact that I am It. The reason for your pain. That is not what I wanted to be for you. In a world out to ‘break your heart ten ways to Sunday’, I wanted to be the healing hug at the end of Sunday. Clearly not.
However you aren’t the only one lost right now, friend. In that at least we are together. People have asked me during this entire period of back and forth, confusion and angst, joy and friendship, whether I love you. What a silly thing to ask. Of course I love you. You are my soul mate, how could I not? But not in the way you want me to. I love you like family, and I tried hard to change that. That truly broke you didn’t it? You saw me try, and it spread poison in your system like a toxic dart to the heart. You tried to win me over too, despite everything. You tried to make me love you, the way you loved me because in a fair world, input = output. But I couldn’t. And I want to slap the girl I see in the mirror, because I know a ‘yes’ would’ve made things so easy. But it wouldn’t have been true to you or me.
It’s weird. A break up feels worse, sure. That is like a sucker punch to the gut that knocks the wind right out of you. You double up in pain, as your insides bleed. It takes time to get back up again. But this, this is breaking up with a best friend. Not because you’ve drifted apart, or because you had a fight, but because of a mismatch in the type of love. Because if there was a criterion for matching the amount of love, friend, I’d probably win. Why? Because nothing you could do could make me walk away. Why do you think every time you’ve walked away from me, I’ve welcomed you back with open arms? Even now, stupid though it is, I hope. I hope maybe a couple of months down the line, with distance from the constant agony of being around the girl who couldn’t love you back, you will see me in a kinder light. Because love changes form all the time. Maybe your love for me shall transform from that specific angle of romance to a much deeper version that matches the love I feel for you.
You’ve left all our common whatsapp groups. I’m sure Facebook and Instagram shall follow shortly. It’ll be like I never existed. Pity people aren’t as easily erased from the heart as social media. We have so many common threads linking us: friends, family, and now all of that is shrouded in haze. Will you shun them or will they shun me? What about all the trips we had planned? You promised to take me trekking, and the lazy bum that I am, I thought I’ll do it later. After all, I had my whole life to go trekking with you. We were going to be best buds forever weren’t we?
Do you know why I’m writing all this? It’s because I can’t say this to you. I want to cry and yet I can’t. I want to express this pain because pain always radiates outwards, if you force it to go within that spells deep trouble. The thing is there are words that shall express this, this feeling of anguish just right, and in that expression I can find peace. But I can’t find the words to put my pain into prose. I can’t find the colours to paint my bleak landscape. I can’t find the movements to this performance. I stand alone in the grim spotlight of a sloe black stage and am unable to sing.
Sydney Sheldon wrote that when you’re in love all the cheap pop songs seem to be written for you. It’s the same for a broken heart too. Because that’s what you did to me, I broke yours, you broke mine. I’ve been listening to the cover of ‘Don’t wanna know’ by Boyce Avenue and Sarah Hyland on repeat. It’s just because of these lines: “Do you think of me, what we used to be? Is it better now that I’m not around? My friends are acting strange, they don’t bring up your name, are you happy now? Are you happy now?” Are you?
The thing that hurt me a lot is that our friendship meant little, at least in the face of the love you felt. Like a pretty stream losing meaning in merging with a vast, depthless ocean. I wonder if you did all that you did for me because you were in love with me, or because I was your best friend. And that bothers me because somehow it feels like I was a fool for thinking of our friendship like a rare diamond. Because now, because of that, I will never be the best friend ‘forever’ that you let go of. I will now and ‘forever’ be the girl who couldn’t love you back. In popular parlance, the girl who friendzoned you.
Love, just not the kind you want,