Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Friends With Benefits

photo courtesy of Insomniatic Thoughts
Is there really such a thing as benefits in this scenario? Initially, it sure may seem so. I haven’t allowed myself to get into that type of situation since I was 19. I guess I didn’t learn my lesson so well. I’ve knowingly never been cut out to just date anyone let alone add sex to the mix. But you know there’s that voice in the back of your head that says, “It’ll be fine this time. You haven’t let yourself get too attached to him. You’re not in a place emotionally to be in a relationship anyway. This is a good placeholder. And you’re already great friends. If this does or doesn’t turn into something else, you’ll still have that friendship thing…”

How many have you had some of those thoughts go off in your head (or all of them) at one time or another in your life? Even for a split second. Oh come on. I KNOW I’m not alone here. This is just another version of the “This time it’ll be different…” conversation we all have in our head at some point in our lives.

When I was 19 my dad had just died, and let’s just say the whole experience happened in a way that made me question every truth in my life. EVERY truth. And it shattered any wall of protection I had built for my heart over the years. In many ways, my dad was my wall. And now that was gone.

Enter “D.” Now D was the second in a string of D’s that came into and went from my life in a short period of time. This D is the one that really got to me though. He hit me like a ton of bricks. I can almost guarantee had I not been so vulnerable at the time because of recent events, he would have had a much harder time wearing me down.

I was working at Wal-Mart part-time then – hey, don’t laugh. ..every teenage kid worked at a nearby Wal-Mart in the Midwest at some point or another during those days – and I had just come back to work after the short leave I had taken after my dad’s death. I had been “promoted” to the toy department from being a cashier, and D was new in town and newly hired in the lawn & garden department. The “popular” guys in the store worked in lawn & garden, and they had taken to being very protective of me, so this new addition to the department who was flirting was a nice distraction from the big brothers I had there.

Pretty quickly I came to realize I wasn’t the only flirtation he had going on. Yeah, I know. What else is new? We became fast friends due to my natural ability to hang with the boys…but in reality, I was crushing on him. Hard.

Then one day I had gone with him and his group of friends to grab some food before my shift at work when they dropped me off at my car, and I took his head clean right off. With one comment. I’ll never forget it. And I didn’t even think it was that big of a deal. I thanked him for lunch/dinner. He said, “My pleasure.” And I said…wait for it…”not yet.” See! I didn’t say any of the scandalous comebacks I already had running through my head. I replied with the most mundane of them. But it must have been the way I said it combined with the expression on my face because the look on his face…I haven’t been so amused by a reaction like that since. It must have been the same look I gave to Ricky Martin when he asked me. “You tweet me on Twitter, right?” But that’s another story for another day…

Come to think of it, I may not have expressed any kind of interest to D in “that way” up until that point, which is probably why I caught him off guard. Anyway, let’s just say that things between us moved in warp speed after that. By that weekend…well there was a bed frame that literally came unhinged and a mattress ended up half on the floor at a little get together at a friend’s apartment. Oh dear. 

And within a week, he was ready to add to his harem…uh, move on. Except you see, his mother loved me, and I’m a way cool chick who he really enjoyed hanging with…and he didn’t really want to move on so much as to keep me, but also include new girls to the mix so…what? So he could rotate us on different nights? I don’t know. But I was vulnerable. And because I desperately needed to feel wanted at the time…and because our chemistry was insane (did I mention the broken bed?), I let him have this. Let him have me.

I was a mess with him. A real disaster. I’m not proud of the choices I made during this time, but I’m so grateful to have gone through this and have so many people really look out for me when things could have gotten really bad. Grief plus a really dysfunctional relationship do not healing make.

Through a bunch of embarrassing scenes – mostly embarrassing for me – over the next 9 months, I finally came through it. We finally came through it as friends. No really…friends with that still had an attraction for one another. (I’m sorry but chemistry just can’t be turned off.) I ended up single, and he ended up with a girlfriend who was very jealous of our relationship. And she had every right to be. But let’s not get into that either.

Anyway, I had begun to really move through my grief – from my father and from D – and I pulled away from almost everyone when I decided to leave town and move to where I am now. I didn’t say goodbye to many. I didn’t say goodbye to him. And I didn’t tell anyone in that circle of friends where I was going. I just left.

Why am I telling this story now so many years later?

Because I’m finding myself in another “friends with benefits” scenario.

Because the benefits have ceased (probably because I’ve turned down every recent request for them to continue since our initial encounters).

Because the friendship seems to be at somewhat of a standstill in the past couple of months, which is the part that actually feels worse.

Because I’ve allowed myself to think that I was in a place in my life where this is truly what I wanted.

And I let it happen.

I let it happen.

And my heart hurts. And I find myself unfocused a lot.

And my heart hurts.

But in reality, the place in my life has nothing to do with being okay with this scenario.

The only way I could ever be okay with it is if I was not me.

And I have no idea where I want this to go. If anywhere.

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