“Just Friends.”

It’s funny how life always surprises us at the most random times.

Rewind to 2015/2016: I thought that I had my life together, at least for someone who was just 21.  I had graduated on time without any student loans.  I had passed my NCLEX (entry-level nursing exam).  I had left the familiar Manila atmosphere to begin my first chapter of adulthood.  I was starting a promising career in an old place that I had called home.

Initially, I did not plan on engaging in any deeper relationships with others.  My main focus was to adjust to a new work environment of my new career.  I wanted to do good and to be good…well that was the plan anyways.

Then, I met him.  It wasn’t the most romantic introduction of the year.  It was just the casual, “Hey this is my friend X.  We went to school together and he works here too.”  I felt that there was an imaginary thread that kept me with him.  We just clicked right away. Maybe it was his sarcasm? Or his charm? Or his intelligence? I don’t quite remember, it had just happened.

Long story short: he made me happy, possibly the happiest that I have been in a while.  We went out for dinner and drinks after long shifts at work.  We would talk about anything and everything.  We would share details about our interests and our lives prior to meeting each other.  It had felt like I had known this person forever.  I thought that I was on Cloud 9.

But here’s the catch: we’re “just friends.” No matter how much time spent together or how many secrets we had shared, there would always be limitations. I was already warned in the beginning of how he is with women. So I bet you’re probably thinking, “Shame on you.” Yes — shame on me for being stubborn, yet hopeful. I don’t like listening to what others have to say, so I guess I had set myself up for defeat without even knowing it. Shit happens.

Ironically, threads are not strong enough to keep its original form when difficult situations occur.  I live for challenges, so I continued to hang on to a thread of uncertainty.  I would like to believe that time heals and maybe it does sometimes.  Maybe it just depends?

It is difficult to be that hopeless voice in the shadows. You want to scream out your thoughts, but there are boundaries in your relationship. You don’t want to sound too controlling because you don’t want to be labeled as the “crazy friend.” I let myself down by trying to uplift him. I thought that I was trying to be strong for the both of us, but I was wrong.

I gave him all the space and time that he needed.  I was there for him during his darkest hours when he had no one to run to at 2 A.M.  I gave him all the respect that I had because I had hypnotized myself to believe that he would come around someday.  Guess what?  He didn’t.

It had devastated me for months.  I’d constantly ask myself: “What is wrong with me?  What else do I need to do?  What am I doing wrong?”  I had explosions of thoughts in my head.  I needed answers, but I could not seek anything from him.

Luckily, I chose to be strong for myself. Have you ever heard of self-love? I remembered that I had vowed to love myself more than I would ever love a man. Because after all, how can you love someone if you don’t even love yourself in the first place? After a few months, I had decided that the problem was never me to begin with — it was him.  I could not wait for him to be ready. Who knows when he would ever become ready to open himself up to someone again? I did not appreciate waiting for something (or someone) that was not sure of me. I deserve better than that, I think we all do.

Just friends…or maybe even less?  It does not matter anymore. I don’t regret those memories. Like I said earlier, he made me the happiest that I had been during that time. He’s my blessing in disguise: a reminder to always put myself before anyone despite the circumstances.

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