Sometimes, friendship is a monster

This is Jane…

I picked up my phone for the tenth time in under a minute knowing full well there was nothing there for me. Still, I checked. There was nothing. I sighed, upset with myself. Upset with my phone. Upset with him. I should know better. He should know better. And oh, why did this have to be so difficult?

If he loved me and I thought I loved him, then why did I have to be on tenterhooks every time we had a conversation? Truth be told, what we had could not strictly be labeled as conversation. They were stilted, one-line messages, further shortened by the shorthand that permeates electronic communication. Where ttyl meant talk to you later and ok became kk. I still don’t get the last one though. Why does ok, become kk in shorthand? Why on earth? It is so exasperating. And the worst of them all? gm. Two letters that suck the living daylights out of a good morning.

Well, I am trying to catch a man. No, don’t get me wrong. I am not one of those domineering women who go right out to ask a man out. Neither am I manipulative or scheming. And I am also not playing hard to get. No, I am frighteningly old fashioned. So I am going about it the old fashioned, tried and tested way. This way usually ends in the woman having the man with the man thinking he got the woman. Long and short, it is a win-win situation. There are no losers here. More importantly, it is not a competition. After all, love is a beautiful thing for the two people involved. They love each other and in loving each other, are happy. So what I am doing is simple. I am trying to make us both happy. I can make him happy. He just has to realize that he can make me happy, too.

I did not realize I had a strategy until recently. The saying that we learn from our mistakes is true. Once bitten, twice shy. From the very first day, I was into him. No, that is definitely a lie! I’m clutching my sides from laughing so hard. No, with me, love comes softly. So scrape that. From the first day I met him, I liked him because he liked me. On the first day he met me, he was into me. But what did I do? I walked away… not from him, but from the idea. I tend to do that when things threaten to happen too fast. I take a deep breath, hold it at arm’s length and observe from afar. I do that to give me perspective, to avoid being blinded by the light. I do these things without even realizing I am doing them. But it shows I have good natural instinct. The natural instinct that is concerned with self-preservation and avoiding unnecessary drama.

However, after a while, I called him. But it was all business. Demand and supply. I was selling a product. He wanted to purchase. So it was to make me some money. But then things went on a different tangent…and it had nothing to do with business. Before I knew it- and I use that phrase with utmost self-loathing because how can you not know what is happening to you? How is that possible? Do you see how naïve I was? To actually think and believe that I possessed the greatest ability to be a hundred percent self-aware at all times! Fancy not seeing how he used business to get my attention. Anyway, before I knew it, he had me wrapped up in his complicated, exasperating, even domestic life.

From the beginning, it was difficult. It had always been difficult.

One of those nights, I told him that he was sending me mixed messages. You see, I am self-aware after all! I know when a guy is trying to eat his cake and have it. One minute I was his angel, the next minute, all women were devious.  You cannot muddy the water you drink and be okay. You cannot say I hate you but I love you in the same breath. It just does not work that way. That day, I drew the red line, all around. I set the limits and there were no buffer areas. “No, you don’t know me like that. No, don’t talk to me like that.” I demanded from him a higher level of respect than he was used to giving. And if he could not meet it, he had to consider carefully what exactly he wanted. Because I could no longer be someone he could sound off his disappointments and test his theories. I was having none of it.

You know what? It was a sad day for me. Sad because I knew he was better than that. He knew it too. So when I told him to shape up, I am sure he understood exactly what I meant. I did not give him an ultimatum. You know, like the ones you see in movies. Love me or get out? Nah. I just told him, you are obviously going through a lot. You have issues concerning your past that you have to deal with. I am okay with that. So go ahead, deal with those issues. Just leave me out of it. When you know what you want, let me know.

I was not heartbroken. I was sad but relieved. Trust me about not wanting drama. There was already this crazy guy around me who was stressing me out. So I was trying to keep things sane.

So we became friends. What on earth does that mean? Were we ever enemies? But saying that gives things a nice, safe appearance. We were friends, so much so that he when he was meeting his ex, he called to tell me. And the next time, he was the friend who was trying to find me a man. I wonder if I looked desperate to him. He wondered why I was single (I am not complaining, thank you very much) and recommended a guy from his office. But since we were friends, I pretended I did not hear him.

We talked and once in a while, we actually saw each other. I always went to him. He never came to me. Apparently, I was the one with time, the one who had to create the appointments. The one who remembered birthdays. The one who called. He was a lazy friend. He had always been. But they say that you need to go get what you want. I was not even sure what I was going out to get but I sure went out. And I got nothing. I got from him laziness, pride, conceit. He was never there. He was always too busy. He had work to do. He had other women on his arms. So I decided to go on a break. A long permanent one.

How did I feel? I was mad. I was very mad. But my anger had a lot of focus in it. It made me get tactical.

First, I picked up my phone. I found his name. I took a long, hard stare at it so that I would be able to recognize his number when I see it but I would not be able to remember it well enough to know the individual digits. And then I zapped it from my phone. No, I did not block his number. A waste of time, really. You see, once he was out of my phone’s life, he was out of mine. There was no trace of him, not even in my call history. The point was that I did not want to be able to call him even if I wanted to. It would require me looking for his number and by the time I got started on that process, I would be reminded of why I had made it so difficult for me to call him in the first place.

It worked like a charm! Talk about ignoring a guy. I did not want to hear from him. So the silence did not bother me. After all, I’d been the one always calling, being chatty, texting and then getting ignored on top of all that. Why? Was I that jobless? So I literally deleted him from my life. It was so easy and so relieving.

And then it must have finally clicked in his head that I was no longer there. So then he called. He sounded worried, concerned. I sounded normal, bored even. If he could not read me before, then this time, his radar was definitely off. Was I all right? he wondered. Perfect, I said. Couldn’t be better.

And then he called again. And again.

Was I on WhatsApp?

“Nope,” I said.

So he called again.

And then I get back on social media. He realizes this and sends a message. I give a one word response and go my way. By this time, I am used to ignoring him. So used to it that I don’t remember him. He doesn’t cross my mind at all. So fancy when he says I miss you. What am I supposed to say? Seriously?

And then I realize. Oh my goodness, he’s created a passive monster! And that monster is me. He’s trained me to be minimalist. To expect little. To expect nothing. To say little. For to expect more is to be disappointed.

And then one day, the ice begins to thaw. I blame it a bit on a change of environment. I was out of town. The pace of life was different. So when he typed in his “hello”, I could deal with the intrusion. Am I being harsh? Perhaps. But when I think of how insignificant I was to him, how effortlessly he could rein me in and out of his life, I think not.

Like I said, the ice began to thaw. I decided to chat back and see what he was up to. I got to know that he was also out of town, out of the country, actually. People get lonely when they are away and far from home. I wondered if that was why he was reaching out. But this time he actually surprised me. He was as consistent as he could be, sending the occasional “hi” and “how r u doing?” once every other week or so. So predictable and reliable in that sense.

So once again, we were friends. I think. But as all friendships with the opposite sex does, ours went through the stage when friendship had to be defined. Clearly. No, he did not say that he loved me. He denied anything beyond the f (friend) word. He was indignant. But did I love him? He wanted to know. He had a right to know. No, he did not have the time to be in a relationship. But he often told me in clear detail his involvement with a certain woman who was his ex today and his girlfriend the next day. They were on and off like that. And like a friend, I listened, wondering why he bothered to share these things with me.

And then I told him I was seeing someone. And boy, was he mad. And shocked. It had probably never occurred to him that I could be in a normal relationship. That’s when the friend card collapsed. So you do love me, I thought. You actually care for me. I told him I had moved on. That I was done being crazy. And he still had the big mouth to deny that there was no spark between us. Well, if there was nothing, why the fuss? Why all the fuss?

Well, friend. I am gone. And I won’t brb. Farewell to the f word.

Now it is a year later. It’s been a whole happy year without him. Oh, I made the boyfriend bit up. There was someone I fancied but it didn’t work out the way I wanted. Then one day, just like that, he calls. Twice. I am staring at my phone as if it has betrayed me. But it is fine, I am on my way to the airport. I won’t be in town to play his emotional tug of war games.

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