I've decided to briefly ("brief" being a relative term) describe the aftermath of Love and Longing in a Lovesac.
A lot happened after that, with a roller coaster of alternating acceptance and bitterness. I wasn't able to fully let go as I'd hoped while we were spending time together still. My love for him seemed to become bitter to our friendship as I watched him enmesh even more with his other friend while I tried to carry on as the same old friend I'd been. I didn't always succeed. I'd still try to push a "friend" boundary or two here and there, and I'd feel stupid afterwards, like I was making some desperate attempt to show him he should have chosen me or entice him into wanting me as more than a friend. But I knew that wouldn't work, nor did I want it to. My brain fought my emotions. I’d tell myself, "I must be able to do it. I'm strong. I can reason with my emotions. They don't control me." And yet all that mental exertion seemed to do was deaden and numb the tenderness I had felt in an effort to not care whether or how it was returned. I then unintentionally tried to counteract the numbness by holding on to the pain.
It's a funny thing the psyche does. When you've felt so deeply for someone, when you've felt such tenderness, and you can't hold on to the love as you had hoped to, the next best reminder of that tenderness is to hold on to the kind of pain that can only come from such love. It's not healthy, but I think it's what I did. A line of a Weepies' song suddenly made sense one day: "I keep pushing the bruise 'cause I don't wanna lose what I loved about you." I wasn't letting go. Not really. Not as long as I held on to the pain, which I couldn't seem to help, because letting the pain go meant letting the care go, and letting the care go felt like letting the relationship go, which would waste all the emotional effort and energy I'd already spent to stay in it. But the more I tried to "get over it" and maintain the friendship, the more the emotional wound hurt and festered, being reopened each time I spent time with him.
I decided that, rather than remain in what seemed like a toxic, withering version of what I once regarded as a beautiful friendship, it was necessary to make a clean break and let the cards fall where they may later. This was one of the hardest decisions I'd made in a long time. I had been afraid to do so because it might end the friendship and because I would then surely lose him to his other friend. But that had surely happened anyway in the romantic sense, and the friendship was, to me, already not what it had been and consequently not what I wanted to hold on to. Though he told me he was fine with how things were, and nothing had changed for him, that was no comfort but rather a reminder of the non-returned feelings. It was too different for me, and I accepted that I probably wasn't going to be able to buck up and deal with it. So I called for a complete break, admittedly required by my own weakness.
The break was painful but essential. We've since moved on, not in touch much anymore. Now, with that distance and with the detachment I've gone through, the feelings I felt on that wintery Sunday are hazy, almost like they were for someone who no longer exists except in my memory. Strange how that works. I'll chalk it up to my own perceptions and rose-colored memories. I care about him and hope he's happy. Maybe that's just what my brain tells me to make "sacrificing" the friendship worth it, like a defense mechanism that tells me what I went through was only worth the pain if it ends with everyone being happy. Could it be that? I don't know. What I do know is that I care about him and can't just throw that away. I imagine I will always care about him and even love him in some way. I don’t know if I could just stop loving someone like that. I have stopped feeling affection for certain people for whom I used to, but even though the relationship itself may necessarily end or change drastically, to simply stop loving someone in the sense of caring about their welfare and happiness is not something I aspire to.
I'm OK with it now. I feel pretty resolved. Writing about this doesn't elicit the emotions it used to. It's been a process getting here, though. Occasionally as the thoughts and emotions around that relationship resolved, in moments when old feelings have begun creeping back in, I'd remember that moment in the Lovesac, and the pivotal perspective, and the motivations, and that intense love I felt, and didn't need to understand it all but just let it remind me of what induced some emotional craziness in me and of how sweetly I once felt, and I was able to let go a little more.