05/09/2016

A Letter to Myself, Part One.



Dear Ellie of September 2015, 

Something a little brutal is about to happen to you, so I'm just giving you a warning.

You know that tall, kind, and funny guy, whose smile makes your stomach flip? The one you've been geeking out with for years now and who you've often flirted with because you believed he'd never look at you like that? The one who you feel for and want to console because he is so angry and disillusioned with relationships after his break up? Well he's about to see you, the real you. You're going to think he likes you but it's not going to be as you hoped, I'm so sorry. You're going to wish this one had stayed unrequited like the rest but months after it ends, you're going to come to realise a few things that will make you feel a little better, I promise.

You're going to start talking to each other all the time, once a week, then every day, then all day ... then all night. It will just happen one day that you'll flirt with him as normal and expect it to go over his head but for some reason that's the day he returns your serve. Your breath will catch, you'll pause, and then you'll plunge into the most intense 8 months of your life.

You're going to flirt outrageously and after some Christmas drinks in December you're going to have a tipsy and revealing conversation. He's going to try to get you to share something with him that you've never shared with anyone, it'll be a whole new level of flirtation for you but you'll believe he is worth it. (Heads up, he's not). You're going to confess that you like him, which he already knows because you're not subtle chick, and that you're not sure how to do this sexting thing without falling for him. You're also going to apologise not for the first time, for being nervous and neurotic. He's not going to correct you (which, hello, warning sign number one!) but he will be charming and persuasive and tell you, for the first time of many times, that he's not looking for that right now but that he's attracted to you, does care for you and that he's "still here"...
"I'm still here"
You're going to take this as a sign that maybe if you got closer, things would change, he's still here so he must think this is worth it right? So you trade your secrets and time and think up more and more extravagent ways to turn him on in the hope that it will mean something and that he will begin to care for you in the way you care for him. On the days when your confidence fails and naivete shows, you feel sick, but he reassures you he's still there. He wouldn't do all this for something so inconsequential as just getting off, you think. This is a lot of effort, I'm pretty hard work, (Sigh ... warning two) he must have some idea where this is going?  

I'm so sorry hun, he's not thinking about where this is going. His ideal situation would be for you to keep him company all day and night without ever having to deal with your feelings. For him this is a fun transaction. That's not going to change although he's going to get better at keeping you engaged regardless and so you're going to care for him more and more. You think because you've told him you have feelings, that he will take that into account and end things if he doesn't think he feels the same way. This is logical to you, to do anything else would be cruel and he's so nice right? He however thinks that because he hasn't "promised" anything that his actions are justified. You're about to discover how widely "promise" can be interpreted by someone who is happy with how things are.

By Christmas, you know you are invested in this and want him to know loud and clear. You see a book that's perfect for him and send it to him on a whim, following up with a heartfelt card. You don't know any other way to be except open, honest, caring, and passionate. This is something about you that's never going to change so when his reaction to the gesture is ambivalent, please don't feel like you did something awful. When he says he should get you something, a quid pro quo, no debts approach that's sadly going to be a theme of this "relationship", you say not to be silly and that if you'd wanted something in return, you would have given him the chance to reciprocate. You do mean this at the time, his happiness is enough, but you're also hoping that he'll want to try and show his feelings in return in some way eventually, because the beginnings of doubt are fluttering in your stomach. The feeling that you are being used and that this is not you finally getting what you want. 

Over the next few months you will spend night after night sexting, him telling you what it will be like to be together and to you these will feel like promises regardless of what he thinks they are. At times you're going to feel, frankly, like a prostitute and you're going to try and pull away. His response will be the same every time, he will get annoyed and frustrated, saying "so this is it?" and "but we both enjoy this" even as you're saying that you do not and that he knows you want more. You will just want to be shown some affection and given something more than the thinnest of hopes. You also don't want him to be upset with you, or bored, and the worst thing is he knows it too. More than once he will use the phrases "enjoying those eggshells?" and "just keeping you on your toes".
"Just keeping you on your toes"
He's going to think he's joking, but it's your heart he's playing with, and again he'll tell you that he cares for you and that He's. Still. There. That's going to be your third warning hun. You're not asking for anything unreasonable, any good man would jump at the chance to make sure you know he cares for you, but right now you have forgotten that you are stronger than this and that your opinion of yourself is far more important than his. 

These moments are quickly forgotten though because he is still there, every morning he is the first person you speak to, and entire evenings are going to be spent talking for hours, or sharing your favourite films before tiring each other out. In fact you'll talk so much that you get screen burn on your phone, his name and the outline of your conversation will stare at you whenever you open a white browser window. The first time you notice this you'll want to throw away your phone but you're unable to buy a new one or repair the damage. You'll sob as you realise that even after trying to limit your connections on social media, in an effort to prevent seeing him without a care in the world, you still can't escape.

That's later though, for now he's right there in your hand, when you're bored he'll make you laugh and when you're sad he'll console you. When you're worried about things he will be the voice of reason and when you're awake at 3 AM in agonising pain, he will sit up all night talking to you and you won't be scared any more. In the loneliest moments of your life you have dreamt of having someone fold you in their arms because it is important to them that you are not scared or upset or lonely. It is the most powerful fantasy that you have ever had, to be brought in from enduring out on the edge, alone. Being strong, independent and not needing anyone is tiring after a while and you are long overdue a break. You have told him many times that sometimes you're most looking forward to just being close to him, as unsexy as that is. You think, he must hear me, he must know what he means to me. He'll humour you though, then try and move the conversation on from this sappy nonsense to something sexier. It'll get predictable and disappointing after a while and that dread feeling in your stomach will grow. To care for someone like that means you get to need them though chick. You're going to need him a little and as a result you're going to be a bit broken for a while after this, but it's going to be mostly alright, I promise.  

Anyway, you'll try your best to do the same for him. You couldn't care less about marathons, the charity bit makes sense but wrecking their bodies to pointlessly run for hours to have the same bit of metal as millions and millions of others and expecting people to be impressed well ... everyone's got to have a hobby and you guess it keeps them fit for now ... but when he speaks about it you want to listen, you encourage him, and when he runs his first marathon you're so happy for him that you burst into tears. He's worked for this for so long and whether or not you see the point, you want to make sure he knows how much you admire his personal achievement. You think, this is what it is when two people care about each other, this is real ... surely?

Meanwhile he's going to invite you to stay with him, at first teasingly then seriously, but you are convinced he will take one look at you and regret his decision. You'll confide in him your concerns and he'll tell you to "get your head out of your ass", that there's no way it could be anything other than a great time. He tells you time and time again that he is aware of your inexperience and that he doesn't care. This is just a blatant lie to pacify you, that will come back to haunt you later on. You are painfully aware that your lack of self confidence is not attractive but whenever you falter he repeats "I'm still here" and that he cares for you and that he's attracted to you. You'll take this on board and begin to pick up the shattered pieces of your self confidence, destroyed by years of boys cruelly groping, ignoring or making cruel comments. You steel yourself and arrange to meet up.

Then you'll fall out and you won't speak for a week. The shock of not speaking to him is horrible, you are getting your first taster of what it will be like, I'm sorry. You have done nothing wrong except try to get to know him beyond his desires and general interests, but after a week he tells you he's been waiting for you to apologise. You stand your ground and you make up but he is not "comfortable" having you stay after that and wants to wait a bit. You're still flirting, you're still sexting, but a six month build up is threatening to come to nothing.

You have a horrible feeling in the pit of your stomach because how much longer can you wait, how much slower can you go? You've traded away almost all your secrets by now and you tell him you feel like a sex line, you feel like a hobby or passing amusement and ask him to please make this a clean break. If he doesn't want to do this, now is the time to declare it. You couldn't be any clearer. If you hear him say one more time that he cares for you, but not like that, but he's STILL THERE and just imagine him kissing your neck and ... you will go mad, this limbo is unbearable. You tell him you would rather "spend the summer finding the best G&T than pining for him" and he tells you "as nice as that sounds, we're not there yet".
"We're not there yet" 
Hun, this is gonna make you feel hope. Again, I'm so sorry. Afterwards he's going to say he never promised anything, again, and you're going to wonder if you're ACTUALLY losing your mind.  

You're going to meet up eventually though, at a local event that you're attending with friends anyway. You're basically going to threaten him that if he doesn't come and see you when you're finally so near then you're going to take that as his decision to end things. He will ask if you can spend time together alone. It'll briefly occur to you that even now he's complaining about you not getting to spend time together, when he just cancelled the opportunity to have you to himself for a whole weekend, but in your mind this just means he cares. 

When you meet, you'll babble and he'll be quiet at first but you're so happy to see him again finally, he's just as you remembered and you're desperate to touch him. Your friends will love him and you'll get on so easily. You'll spend the whole night not knowing what he's thinking or feeling, (no difference there then) enjoying the evening and talking but waiting for the moment when he'll make his excuses and leave. He doesn't leave. You'll wait for him to tell you that it was great to see you but you aren't for him. That you should end this thing between you before it goes any further. But this isn't what will happen, he's still there, like he always said he would be. You joke that you think you're dreaming, he assures you, you are not.

Instead he will take your nervousness in hand and kiss you and any thought that he doesn't want you will be as nothing. You'll have no idea what to do and it'll be horrifically inexperienced and overly enthusiastic on your part but everything will be intense and you'll be holding onto him, desperately trying to work out how to get enough of him in these few minutes, after so many months. 

I'm not going to lie to you hun, his kiss is going to feel like home. You're going to feel like you just want to be closer to him than it's physically possible to be and at the same time, you're going to think, this is too good. At one point he's going to ask you if you're OK, you will panic and not reply because you're wondering what it is you need to do or say to make sure this isn't the last time. To make sure you get a chance to do this over and over until you're in control of yourself and can savour the moment. 

It's going to be the first and last time chuck. 

What happens next is going to be a couple of the most painful weeks of your life. After agreeing that you both had a good time, that you get on in real life, (and after a few more delightful nights ...) you will ask for a second meet up. Just the one. This is going to be such a colossal problem for him that you're going to question whether you are worth anything at all. He'll say that yes he definitely wants to see you again "sometime in the future".
"Sometime in the future"
You're not going to believe that he could be so cruel. What does he think you are? A machine? Is HE a machine? Who does this? How can you want to see him again so badly and he can take it or leave it? Especially after he carried on as normal after seeing him, didn't back away, nothing changed! You'll tell him, not believing that you're saying it, that if he was so blasé about meeting again, perhaps it would be better to just not. He's going to tell you he wants to take it slowly. More slowly than not even seeing each other for months, let alone touching each other. He's going to tell you that he's sorry he can't be what you want, without even asking (or let's be frank, caring) what it is that you want. That he's said from the start that he's not looking for "that sort of thing". That he enjoys what you have (well no shit, what guy wouldn't like a willing girl with a creative mind at his beck and call night or day?!) but that he can't give you meeting up "every week or so". Which is so far from the ONE meet up in the next THREE months that you're practically begging for at this point that you'll begin to think you've missed half the conversation. 

Your insides collapse in on themselves because you know you can't hang on any longer with no hope of progress. That the idea of you being anything more than satisfaction at the end of a phoneline is so distasteful to him, just crushes your last smidgen of self worth. When you ask what he's actually envisioning and what the alternative is, he'll tell you he doesn't know, that he's not that "forward looking". He probably thinks this is laid back and carefree, don't plan, just be spontaneous. Well, he's chosen to be spontaneous with your heart to satisfy his own selfish needs and it will be the oddest and cruelest thing any boy has ever done to you.

He does know he wants you as a friend though and doesn't want to hurt you (how magnanimous), even now he won't give you that he's a total dick, but the blinkers are off. You will think to yourself  "Why didn't you think of that six months ago when I told you I had feelings for you and you knew you had none for me you absolute tosspot. Why didn't you think of that three months ago when I told you I needed more? Why didn't you think of that one month ago when I asked you not to hurt me? Why did you even come to see me and why, oh dear sweet baby Jesus why, do I now have to deal with the memory of you touching me and realising those months of anticipation, only to lose you?" 

When you ask him some of these things he'll say because he wanted to see you, to see if you got on, and that you did get on great! That he really likes you but that it made him realise "his actions" and that he couldn't do a relationship. When you ask why, knowing this, he still kissed you, held, and touched you, all he has left to say is sorry. 

He's also going say to you that he can't be with you because "It would be your first time and mean more to you because of that". As if you didn't tell him, as if he wasn't aware, as if he hasn't told you time and time again that he understood and it was fine by him. That he uses this against you now is infuriating, you might need to get your bearings at first but you are hardly that naive and he knows it. It would mean more to you because it would be with HIM, it could be the hundredth time and it'd be no different. Nobody likes to feel guilty but this is just patronising. What also won't be said of course is that it would mean more to you and basically nothing to him because it's only ever been a bit of fun for him. He never had any intentions or desire to take this further, in fact the idea of it has been repulsive to him all along. If he'd maybe circumvented his lust and consulted his conscience a little earlier it would have saved a lot of trouble. 

And that will be the end. You're going to feel worthless, like he didn't want your body, like he didn't want you, like you weren't good enough for him and aren't good enough for anyone. You'll feel pain and horror as you realise that you're alone in the damn wilderness again and that after he charmed his way through all your defences you have nothing left to protect you. You basically won't eat for a month and you will spend a ridiculous amount of time crying in a corridor at work while he runs off (literally), unburdened of your feelings for him.

You'll get over that eventually though because here's the thing, you at least came out of this with nothing to be ashamed of. You weren't cruel, you didn't lie, take advantage of him, or play with his emotions. You were generous and honest and caring. You knew who you were going in even if you lost yourself a little along the way; you knew what you wanted and made it plain. He'll just have to deal with the fact that he knew what he was doing for so long, and that when you told him you were falling, he just watched you drop. 

I promise you, you learnt some good things from this too but I think that is TBC ...

Love 'n' hugs, 

Ellie of September 2016

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