I Didn’t Love You Back

Summer had brought its fair share of storms; leaving me vulnerable in a time I needed to be strong.  My nights were spent drinking away the pain of a bad breakup, one that ended with more than just emotional bruises. The physical pieces were put back together easily enough, but my mind had been shattered along with my heart. I no longer believed in love, how could I have? If the past year was love, I’d pass in favor of a life with my twelve cats.

But then I saw you.

You walked toward me- okay you walked toward our mutual friend I was standing next to- and I swear I could feel the butterflies about to burst from my chest. Butterflies I never thought I’d feel again, much less feel so soon.

We grabbed our drinks and headed toward the back patio of the bar. It was nice being around new people; people who hadn’t heard the story of what happened to me just the month before. No concerning looks, no questions. We laughed and joked playing on each other’s Tinder’s, seeing who could come up with the best line to use. At some point you asked if anyone wanted a shot, and I eagerly volunteered. I remember this so clearly; you handing me my shot and then dropping yours straight on the ground before getting to take it. “Can you blame me? Pretty girls make me nervous.” You said.

I hadn’t smiled so big in months.

The night drew to an end as your friends wanted to head home. I was left wondering when I would get to see you again.

In an ironic turn of events, we had matched on Tinder.  Sending a few messages back and forth before exchanging numbers, we made plans to go to a baseball game together. (Even if the date turned out to be a dud at least there’d be dollar beers.)

Your adorably goofy half smile was what struck me first as you walked up the bleachers. I wondered if you were as nervous as I was.

That night was the start of a new chapter for me. At least it should have been.

One of the hardest things to do is move on. Sure, we can act like we have; people are great at pretending. But to really read on to the next chapter we must accept the last. Something I hadn’t yet done.

Because the past was still in my present.

The leaves were changing yet the summer still loomed over me.

Court dates and police interrogations, ex-boyfriend messages, threatening texts. It was overpowering to the point I couldn’t see what was in front of me. I had met someone perfect for me in every way, but here I felt like I didn’t deserve him. My depression clouded my judgement; I broke away from everyone close to me in hopes of saving them pain in the future. I no longer had the desire or willpower to live; not like this.

I remember the night I told you this. I allowed you to see me broken; I think part of me wanted you to know what demons I was facing.

“Make me understand, Emily.” You said.

How could I explain something I didn’t understand myself?

We met at the wrong time. That’s what I tell myself anyways.

But then I think about dancing in your kitchen to Taylor Swift. And lying on my apartment floor, imagining we were looking at the stars. And you walking from your house to check on me after I told you I nearly fainted outside of class.

And I think about how it felt to sleep in your arms, and wake up next to you.

And then I think; maybe we didn’t meet at the wrong time. Maybe I needed you to show me how a real man treats a woman. How a real man loves. I needed to see there was such a thing as good guys, and that butterflies were not yet extinct.

I wish I could have been better for you. I wish I could have shown you all of the things you deserve. I didn’t love you back, but it doesn’t mean I didn’t love you.

Because I did, and I still do.

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