Everyone experiences negative stuff, it's part of living.
The scent of rejection, and the disappointment it brings, may lighten in time – but it pervades and shapes our lives in definitive ways.
One of my girl friends and I were talking recently about the highs and lows of life. How had particularly painful moments defined us? What bad moments in life still sting years later? What negative experiences are laughable now, regardless of the pain they caused once-upon-a-time?
I've realized the most painful moments in my life have been those caused by the betrayal or abandonment of friends and/or lovers.
Job interviews that didn't work out, less than a perfect grade on a test I studied my ass off for, vacations with bad weather and ruined plans, being told no one would ever read my writing …..
Those things don't seem to matter in the long run.
Taking someone into your life though,
Trusting them with your inner thoughts and vulnerable heart –
Having people you love betray you,
Reject you …
Those are the hurts that never go away.
At least not for me.
It isn't a matter of forgiving, or not forgiving …
It just feels, for me, like having my heart shredded by a jagged piece of glass.
I don't open my heart to people easily or quickly.
Once I love someone, I love deeply whether that person is a friend, family member, or mate.
How dare they decide they no longer love ME?
(I laugh at myself …
And yet, I don't.)
My friend told me a story of an experience she had several years ago.
She gave me permission to share it with you.
We laughed about it in the re-telling, but I honestly can't imagine how much it must have hurt her.
For storytelling purposes, I will call my friend Jane (not her real name).
A man Jane knew "courted" her for a long time. (For writing purposes, I'll call the man Mike.)
Jane was vaguely interested in Mike, but having just come out of a break-up, she wasn't eager to get involved with anyone.
Mike was patient.
Mike was not pushy.
Mike was always "there" for her.
Mike made her laugh.
Mike was consistent and steady and persistent in a non-threatening way …
Eventually, little by little, Jane opened her heart to Mike.
It didn't happen quickly,
It was a slow, gradual, bonding over the course of about 18 months.
Once in awhile Mike would try to move the relationship to a more romantic level, but he always respected Jane's wishes when she said she wasn't ready.
Mike became a friend, and then eventually a "best" friend to Jane.
One day she realized she couldn't imagine not having Mike in her life.
He had pretty much made himself a fixture in her life.
Mike called Jane "just to check-in" almost every day.
He was always hanging around, just casually there on a pretty frequent basis.
After quite some time, about a year and a half to be exact, Jane invited Mike over for dinner.
She lit candles, she put romantic music on –
She was ready to take the relationship to the next step.
Mike appeared overjoyed initially.
They had a nice dinner at her apartment, "accidentally" touching each other throughout the meal. Eventually they held hands, then kissed, then moved to the couch. Mike was eager, Jane "slowed him down" a few times.
They sipped on wine and kissed some more ….
Things progressed and they soon found themselves intertwined or her bed.
Mike finally had her naked –
After all this time of pursuing her –
He had what he wanted, right?
She, on the other hand, was more than just naked physically.
She had (after the longest courtship in modern history) opened her heart to him, completely.
Mike, for whatever reason, suddenly "changed."
He went from being eager and affectionate to suddenly distant.
The change was obviously very unexpected by Jane.
(This was, after all, the man who had been "after" her for over a year.)
She was baffled and unsure of what had happened to cause this sudden and abrupt change with Mike.
Affectionate and horny Mike was replaced by distant Mike in a matter of minutes.
Fifteen minutes later, Mike left.
My friend was naked.
Now she jokes, "The sight of me naked sent him running."
She laughs, but I can hear the doubt in her voice like maybe it really did.
She's beautiful, by the way.
I may be biased because I'm her friend, but she's a gorgeous person inside and out.
(She's been in a very loving relationship with someone else for many years now.)
She never heard from Mike again.
He just disappeared.
After all that time of calling her,
Of pursuing her,
Of spending time with her –
He basically ran away and never looked back.
She tried to get in touch with him initially,
Mike avoided her calls and refused to talk to her.
His silence, his avoidance, hurt Jane more than his abrupt departure.
She kept asking herself,
What had she done wrong?
(She still wonders ….)
He couldn't really be walking away forever, after all that time chasing her, could he?
He wouldn't really stop calling her, after talking almost every day for months and months, would he?
But he did.
Just like that, and with no explanation, Mike was gone.
We laughed about this story when she told me,
"Once upon a time a guy saw me naked and ran real fast" type of laughter.
Underneath her laughter I can still hear the hurt years later.
Maybe that is what touched me most about her story.
She may try to laugh it off now, but Mike left a permanent wound.
I hear wistful sadness when she explains how much she missed his friendship, for years, after he "dumped her."
I don't think she'd ever admit it, but it seems like she misses him still.
I know she still questions what she did to disappoint him.
What must be wrong with her, to make him run like that?
The answer, or course, is not a damn thing.
The flaw is not with her,
It's somewhere within Mike.
Will she ever, truly, one hundred percent, believe that?
I don't think she will.
© Twenty Four At Heart