Back in February, after first being told "I love you" in a friend or sibling sort of way, I responded in the same vein to a friend of the opposite gender. There was uncertainty, a short silence, and then everything returned to normal: weekly phone conversations, occasional visits or outings, and e-mails.
I was not satisfied with leaving things as they have always been for almost ten years. TEN YEARS. C'mon. I have had dating relationships during that time, and all failed to go anywhere permanent because always, in the back of my mind, I wondered, "What if?" I have always wanted more with this person, but have settled for friendship, because that was all that seemed to be on offer.
And my friend has been a true friend, helping me in practical ways during some difficult times, or listening to my rants or my insanity. We have traded advice, prayed together, studied books and shared the Bible together. This person, more than even my best friend of the same gender, has heard and seen me at my ugliest, and remained my friend.
For a couple of years, I've been praying for freedom from a whole list of things, and one of them is fear. One thing I fear is a life without this person somehow in it. I fear rejection -- obviously -- but also derision, disbelief, anything that smacks of "Who do you think you are?" or "You're not my type" or "I just can't think of you as anything more than a friend," all the negative responses.
So, knowing it had to be done, knowing I risked ten years of friendship but also knowing that I needed an answer -- one way or the other -- if I were going to be free to move forward in my life, I declared myself.
It was an old-fashioned declaration: in a letter. At four pages long, it isn't short and sweet, but hopefully it is clear and honest and without chance for misunderstanding. I wrote "I love you" more than once, and without any qualifiers. No "sibling in Christ" stuff. No "love ya like a friend" or anything that softened or changed it. Just I love you. Emphatically.
There is no response yet. There has been plenty of time for one, but instead there is silence. No e-mails. No phone calls. No letter in return. No dropping by in person.
I will not force communication, but I hate the waiting.
The silence is, in itself, an answer.
I hate the loss.
And yet -- and yet -- I do not regret the letter. I do not regret the truth.RISK MEANS SOMETIMES YOU FAIL
I have my answer (see previous post), and I am not unscathed.
However, if this is how it must be, well, then, this is how it must be.
I have angered my friend. I upset the apple cart. I threw a rock in the pond. I robbed someone of something they valued. They thought they had one friend; when I told the truth, they found they had a different friend altogether.
That's what this person thinks now. In a way, it's not an incorrect thought. However, once the ripples have subsided and the pond is quiet again, once the cart has been set upright and all the apples returned, perhaps my friend will see that no robbery at all has been committed. Only change.
If friendship ends, well, other friendships have ended. If discomfort forces us to change, well, growing is never comfortable and rarely fast.
I will mourn the loss, and I will move forward, hopefully wiser, certainly older.
Now, almost a year later, all is well. No, there is no romance, but the friendship, though still altered, is intact.
I've moved on. So much so, in fact, that I forgot this friend's birthday until around 10 p.m. yesterday, something I haven't done in the decade plus that we've known one another. In a strange way, that's progress!