A friend of mine got married last week.
And I feel sad.
Because when I compare my life with his, he is everything I’m not, has everything I do not have which only serves to remind me of how much I have failed, and how little I have carved out for myself in this life.
D is handsome, charming, charismatic and hugely successful. But it is the D that no one else knew that I loved. The lost, insecure, nervous little geek he once was, that he manage to overcome when his looks came into their own. But like all of us with challenging pasts, it never really went away for good, and that id would occasionally peek out shyly from behind those chocolate brown eyes and that confident, brash exterior, reminding me of why we really gelled.
I used to mock and tease D when we were close, for his affectations, ego and blatant ambition, and was adamant to others in our circle that I never found him attractive. And I believed it. Plus, typical me, I thought he was vain enough and didn’t want to make his head swell up any bigger than it already was by playing to his ego. But we clicked on every level, challenged each other openly and had each other in stitches all the time. Yes, he was funny too. Not fair is it?
And God knows I tested him as a friend. He saw the best and worst of me but, tempted as he must have been at times, he never wavered in his support.
When he left these shores for good, I didn’t go to his leaving party and didn’t really push to stay in touch. He had just gotten serious about his current partner so I told myself that sometimes girlfriends can get a bit possessive about men having female friends, so I should hang back and let him to do all the running. Besides, again, I didn’t want him to get above himself. Other women may flap and coo around him, but not this little black duck.
But unlike my select few, D’s friends are legion, and he makes them wherever he goes, and his relationship proved to have legs so he didn’t really stay in touch either, and we gradually lost touch.
As his world expanded and flourished, mine collapsed like a wet cardboard box.
Since my own personal armageddon, he has been in touch and tried to help a little, but out of sheer pride, I didn’t exactly encourage him so that petered out too.
And now? He has bigger and better priorities.
And I wonder why I feel so low.
Did I find him attractive? Did I want him all along?
The reason I don’t know is that I automatically push back when approached by classically good looking men. When I was a geeky, specky little swot at school, many’s a handsome lad would tease, abuse, and hurt me, so the minute I sprouted legs and tits, dyed my hair and chucked my glasses in the bin, I was all out for revenge and have never really trusted them since. Hot men are the enemy unless (a) are proven otherwise, or (b) platonic friends.
Oh I did date some Casanovas. But they were the ones who did the leg work, because they loved a ‘challenge’, and once I’d caved, it would all fall through for some reason or other because I never really let them see the real me. It was just like a game of emotional chess really, and I was never willing to let my guard down in case I lost.
And whilst I never lost sleep over D’s romantic exploits, and we always kept a respectable distance, every now and then we find ourselves in close physical proximity of the other, in the back of a taxi or a crowded lift, and as soon as we touched, something electric and highly static would immediately kick in, causing both of us to lapse into an uncomfortable silence until we were once again, with palpable relief, able to put some distance between us.
Also, in the back of my mind, a little voice would say ‘Don’t go there! You’ll just get hurt. He’s out of your league! He wants some young slip of a thing, you’ve seen all his other arm candy! And he wants kids and you probably can’t have them now, so keep your pride and save the hurt. It’s not going to happen.’
And now I look back at all the other good looking guys I found fault with and dismissed and wonder, could one of them been right for me? Did I misjudge them? Sell myself short? Miss out on being happy and having a family and kids just for the sake of saving face?
This is a question that will never be answered now. Decades have passed, I’ll never be a mum and probably never marry.
Therein lies my pain.
I quashed any real feelings of lust or desire for so many men, dismissed them as vain/arrogant/conceited/stupid/wankers when the truth of the matter is that I didn’t have the courage to acknowledge what was really going on, take a risk and open myself to the possibility of believing in a happy ending.
Cynicism is like varnish. You layer and layer it on to protect you until you become entombed. Impervious. Unbreakable. Unreachable.
And it’s too late to change now.
I was never classically pretty. I have strong features, that said I had my charms, but I’m 50 years old now. Will a good looking, desirable man ever look at me again?
Probably not. But if they do, this time I will not falter.
Just writing this is painful to the extreme mentally, emotionally and physically. I actually feel physically sick. But I know that it is cleansing to go there, shatter that brittle casing, let the words, the hurt, the fear flow out, and trust that I will survive without my old hard shell.
I’ll never know whether I really wanted my friend because if I did it was in a drawer, in a safe, locked behind a six inch steel door where no one could find it, so I can have no regrets.
God bless you D for being a friend and helping bring this opportunity for change to my door.
And God help me be truly happy for you.