Fool Me Twice

Again, I find myself pushed back into the number two slot. Second place. The backup plan. The runner-up. Again, I find myself blindsided by competition I didn’t know I had.

This isn’t a new feeling. It’s not a new wound. I’ve stood on the far-left pedestal before, gripping silver and smiling through gritted teeth because I don’t want you to see that I’m broken. Let you think I’m cool with it or let you think it’s rage. Let you think I’m quick to bounce back. Just don’t let you in on the truth.

The truth is that this shattered me. The truth is that I’m too broken to be angry. I’m as confused as I’ve ever been, wondering what I did wrong. I drank myself to sleep last night so that I wouldn’t lie awake trying to pinpoint the moment it all changed. I woke up with a pounding that threatens my heart to collapse in on itself. I don’t know what to do. I’ve lived this hell before but I still don’t know what to do.

Is it because I’m slow to open up? Because I told you I was trying. Is it because our friends were all egging us on? Because you’re the one who told them about us, not me. Is it because we work together? Because I would quit in a heartbeat if that was your only concern. Is it because summer is coming and she’ll be closer than me? Because that changes again in August, you know. Is it because you have some kind of twisted history with her? Because that isn’t fair to me. Is it because she’ll sing in front of you and I get too nervous? Because I will absolutely face that fear if it means I get my chance. Is it because I don’t always catch on to your movie references? Because I can try harder. Is it because you’re a handyman and she just seems more broken? Because I think I could give her a run for her money.

You’ve told everyone, repeatedly, how pretty you think I am and how much you want to get to know me. You stare at me at work when you think I don’t notice. You tell me how much you believe in me. You let me snuggle up to you on the couch. You talk to me right up until you fall asleep. All of this and so, so much more, but somehow you don’t think of how it’ll kill me to suddenly lose you to someone else?

I want to be angry. I want to tell you how shitty it is that you led me on the way you have. I want to scream and fight and throw punches. I want to break the silence and break this goddamn curse. I want to be stronger than this. I want to be better than this.

But all I feel is sadness and confusion, maybe a little bit of fear. As angry as I could be, my blood is nowhere close to boiling. I can’t unsee all of this potential we had. I can’t imagine not having you in my life anymore. Losing you this way is bad enough, I can’t lose your friendship now too. I can’t make our friends choose sides.

I’m trying to convince myself not to wait it out. I’ve made that mistake before, and I ended up wasting years pining for someone who didn’t choose me. I want to chalk it all up to fate and say it was never meant to be, but I still don’t believe it myself. I’m hurting so much right now, but all I can think to do is be patient. Each wretched, ratty heartbeat is telling me I’ll get my chance this time. This is just a challenge to overcome, a detour to make me prove how much I want this. Some voice in my head is telling me that you’ll come back in the fall and tell me that you were wrong and you’re sorry and you want another chance. I won’t hesitate to grant you one.

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