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I’m looking into his eyes.
They remind me of the crystal aquamarine; it’s a soft and gentle blue, a stark contrast to the rest of him.
He’s the epitome of the archetypal masculine—tall, bearded, muscular, tattooed, with strong hands, and an even stronger wit.
Sometimes I wonder if he’s aware of how beautiful he really is because he never comes across as vain or conceited.
He has a humble streak that was carved into his soul by some of the worst experiences of his life, some of which he has shared with me, some of which have made my heart ache.
We’re sitting on his couch after yet another bout of roller-coaster bad juju.
We hadn’t spoken for a week; I had raged because of my feelings for him, which felt like I was being swept away by a tsunami.
He did what he always does: he withdrew—back into his emotionally unavailable “man cave” to protect himself. But as we sit across from each other, the energy is ever so slightly different.
It’s as if the constant push and pull has tired us both out to the point where we are just exhausted, joking, and slowly—tentatively—opening up.
I tease him with, “Are you having a feeling?”
He laughs, a little harder than usual, telling me what I already know about this man, that his emotions terrify the f*ck out of him—and that’s something I can easily recognize and relate to.
I have grappled, tormented myself, and cried about not being this man’s person—in the romantic sense.
I’ve laid my anger on his shoulders; I’ve yo-yoed with all of my decisions; I’ve said no when I wanted to say yes; I’ve said goodbye in defiance too many times to count—when goodbye just doesn’t feel right. I’ve made a million assumptions instead of asking questions. I’ve also apologized for letting my actions cause him hurt.
He tells me he cares; he tells me he’s missed me; I can feel the sincerity.
We’ve talked about the hurt and the chaos; he’s apologized for not being able to give me what I want, while reassuring me of what I deserve, and f*ck, I can only have respect for that.
He’s invited me to go camping with him and his family; he’s showing up—the best way he knows how.
This emotionally unavailable man has reminded me of the grey areas of life—the areas we can’t define with our black and white mentalities.
It has to be this way or else…
And I’ve discovered how rigid I am in my own thinking.
How I often think that something has to match the idea I hold in my mind, or it must be discarded. And the best way to figure out if we are doing that is by going back and forth on our decisions because we haven’t found the right one who resonates with our soul.
It’s been constraining; it’s been a pressure cooker; it’s been my own form of shackles. And most of it is some ridiculous form of “self-protection” that comes from my own wounds, my own insecurities, and my own lack of self-love.
I was listening keenly to the dialogue that has made its home in my head, and it repeats, “I am not good enough.”
All I can really do is accept that this man is meeting me where he can—while sometimes pushing himself into uncomfortable and uneasy territory.
Because I became consumed by feelings of not getting the relationship I wanted, I was discarding the connection we do share.
I let ego determine action.
And that’s what rejection truly is: a bruised ego and redirection back to ourselves—how we view the world, how we show up, and whether or not we do it based on fear or love.
I’m not saying that we should forgo our needs and our wants. If someone is treating us like sh*t and not showing up, we should most definitely cut away the bullsh*t and move on.
But I have come to see that we live in a day and age when that’s our first port of call, and it’s not always right, it’s not always good, and sometimes, it shows us how we are running away from the uncomfortable stuff.
It’s not always as simple as to “block” or “not to block.”
I’ve sat with my anger for a long while, realizing it was just my own grief—and that being a person I can be proud of means showing up for myself and letting some things be what they are—not trying to change them into what I want them to be.
We are all struggling, in one way or another, and my emotionally unavailable man has taught me the value of friendship. How in this mad world of dating and relationships, we often lose sight of how powerful the love of a friendship can be—when we nurture it.