This morning I woke up next to your mom and your girlfriend on our camping trip and I realized that I am not coping with this arrangement very well anymore.
For the past six years, I have focused my efforts in our friendship to supporting you in whatever way I knew how – just as any good friend would do. I had done an excellent job of convincing myself that I am totally content with the friendship I have cultivated with you, and also with S. And you know what? I am still so proud that I have achieved peace with both of you. People often tell me that it is a shock to them that I can be friends with both you and your new girlfriend, and I believe that it is indeed a rare situation that we have been able to create. It took many years and a lot of flexibility and empathy from each of us to get to this point, and I am deeply depressed to find that now we have to throw all that hard work away.
The point at which it all started to unravel for me was the day when you told me that you and S had split. Initially I had no real feeling about the situation aside from the distant sort of sadness you feel when someone you care about it having a terrible day. I called you that night – just as I have done with all my other friends who have told me that their relationships have ended – to check in and see how you were doing. That night I unknowingly embarked on a road that would lead me to the truth in all this, and now that I have finally found it, I wish that I was still ignorant.
When you told me that you thought about asking S to marry you but then you thought of me, my heart leapt in a way it hasn’t for so many years. I didn’t know I could feel that way anymore. I went to sleep that night feeling fluttery and light – a sensation I haven’t felt since I was 18. I still don’t know what you meant by that comment; was it truly only that I momentarily symbolized the voice of reason telling you that getting married will not save a failing relationship? Were you trying to tell me that the thought of me was holding you back from marrying another woman without saying that outright? I suppose I might never know the answer to that, but it certainly spurred a lot of unexpected emotions that I am still reeling from.
Over the course of the next few days, I was delighted to find that I had once again gained a position of importance in your life. I reveled in having the privilege of comforting you and encouraging you. I was high on the thrill of being able to build you up and tell you how wonderful I think you are, without the fear of being demonized by a girlfriend of yours for saying it. I got in touch with S and checked to see how she was doing too. She told me she was afraid that she had made a terrible decision, and I assured her that you would not be moving on anytime soon, and that if it was meant to be, that you two would find a way to work it out in the future. I felt warm when she told me that the things I had observed about your relationship had made her feel a little better.
The moment you told me that S had called you and apologized for everything and that you wanted to get back together, it felt like I had swallowed a fist-sized river rock and it was sitting in my stomach. I felt the kind of emotional nausea that comes from knowing deep in your core that something is wrong. There is no reason why a good person should feel distress at hearing the joy of their friends. I was so stricken with the loss of you once again, and the deep guilt that accompanied it that I had to step out of the office to cry.
Later that week I was determined to sit down with you and tell you that we cannot continue to be friends. I invited you to lunch, and when we met I was hit with wave after wave of nausea as I tried to eat, and tried to work an impossible statement into what was otherwise a wonderful conversation. You ended up encouraging and inspiring me to pursue a project which I had kept a secret from everyone until that afternoon, and I felt such validation in your enthusiasm for my idea. Unfortunately this made it completely impossible to achieve my mission, and the last thing I said to you as we were parting was, “We will be in touch.” This was literally the polar opposite of the thing I had been trying to tell you, and I walked away feeling like the biggest failure in the world.
As a bit of time passed, I was able to convince myself that perhaps these emotions I was feeling would start to fade once you and S moved away together, and I could go back to being friends with both you and her, as things felt for me before that brief breakup. Until this weekend, I have been believing that eventually this was all a fluke and it would disappear eventually.
What unseamed me for good was the moment when S said, “Lately I have been feeling like I really want to have a baby.” I can’t get it out of my head. It is still echoing around in there, even days later.
When she spoke those words, it was like a hidden cavern inside me opened with a shudder, and released torrents of scathing anguish, jealousy and guilt. I have wanted to have a family with you from the time we were 18. This has been a deeply buried desire of mine for all these years, and now that it has been dredged up, I know that I won’t be able to bury it again. I love you in a way that is deep and ancient. You are incorporated into my thoughts nearly every day, and you are the driving force behind so much of my art. You have become as much as part of me as my own skin.
I suppose I have made so many excuses and justifications for my attachment to you because at some level I knew that if I ever was able to see my feelings about you clearly that I would have to leave. If I have any dignity as a woman, and any respect for S as your girlfriend, I have no choice.
I only wish I had realized this sooner.
I am so sorry.