The Sunburn I Would Like To Save

As many of my long-term readers may know, I am not shy when it comes to discussing a wide-range of topics on this blog. Besides my TAPIF Tips/Lecteur Lessons, the most popular posts on AsToldByDana are ones in which I talk about details and everyday happenings of my life. From street harassment, to sexual assault, to my trip to the French gynecologist, to using the Diva Cup, to my insecurities about being single, to doubting my future and my decisions, to personal stories about my life in France, I’ve basically given an overview of my life story from my early twenties until now.

However, something that is lacking from this blog are my stories about love. This is partly because I’ve always been extremely private when it comes to my feelings and my relationships with people, and also partly due to the fact that frankly, I don’t have much experience or much to say on the subject. However, throughout the six years of me writing this blog (and much before), I’ve had love, and I’ve had heartbreaks. Some of these experiences and these have shaped me more than others, but they’ve all left a lasting impact on my life.

These stories, these experiences, are like sunburn. I’ve gotten hurt; some of these experiences have left scars; some have been long forgotten; others may come back to haunt me later.

So without further ado, I give you eight of my most defining love stories, from my point of view. Some are beautiful. Some are heartbreaking. Some are awful. Some are just embarrassing. Some are more recent then others. Some predate this blog. None of them are in any particular order of chronology or importance. None of the photos match the stories. All stories include have been changed or lack of information in order to protect privacy.

This is one of my most vulnerable posts to date. But, perhaps you’ll learn a bit more about me in the process, or perhaps feel less alone yourself.

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Rhiannon- Fleetwood Mac

It’s funny, because I sometimes forget you were once a part of my life, and that I had such strong feelings for you. We are no longer “friends” on Facebook; AIM screen names are a thing of the past; we both left our universities and our hometowns quite a few years ago. I’m not sure exactly why we fell out of touch. I don’t recall our lack of contact being a result of any sort of falling out. Alas, I suppose that’s life.

I once despised you— and I despised that my close friends viewed you as the guy who walked on water. It wasn’t until years later that the two of us reconnected.

You were the bad boy- the mysterious, semi-depressive guy who was quite intelligent but also lazy, and therefore  only just scraped through high school and college. You were the guy who thought he was way too good for his hometown, his state school, and life in general. Long story short, we saw the world very differently— for you the glass was always half empty, and for me, half full. You and my mother also never got along, and as I recall my own relationship with my mother at the time, is perhaps why I was so particularly drawn to you.

I always found you attractive— both physically as well as intellectually— although I never believed you when you said the same about me.

I remember the night you drove me home. I was both equally nervous and excited to be alone with you. But even then, deep down, I knew we would never work. Our interests were too different. Our life aspirations were on opposite ends of the playing fields; we viewed the world in very different ways. But you are a good person. You didn’t sleep with me that night when I was too drunk; you were the person whom always gave me the perfect books to read. Although you were someone who didn’t see much positive in anything at the time, you invested a lot your time in helping me to see the positive within myself.

I always wondered if you knew how I felt about you- I wonder if you felt the same way about me.

The second to last time I saw you, you gave me a book to read l, and I gave you a cake I had baked– apple crumble, your favorite. A few months later you threw me a welcome-back party, and by then you had met someone else. We stayed in touch for a little while after that, but soon after, the messages stopped, and our paths seized to cross. You were good for me at the time. But we became close during the darkest periods of our lives. I know now that this was for the best.

Piano Man- Billy Joel

I still get butterflies when I think about you— not because I am still attracted to you, but because I think back and remember how special you made me feel. You were exactly what I needed at the time.

I was new. I was learning, and I was a slower learner. But I got better, and gained more confidence. Two years my senior, you were patient, encouraging, and attentive. They say that people may not remember what you said to them, but they will always remember how you made them feel. And for me and you, that rings true. You weren’t one of the popular ones. Looks were not on your side. You weren’t anyone’s favorite. But to me, you were kind, and for that I will be always grateful.

I still remember the way my heart skipped a beat when I received your gift. And for many years that followed, I kept it. I remember working feverishly something for you a few weeks later- feeling exhilarated and thinking, and knowing– that these little acts of kindness  was “our” thing. I remember how excited and nervous I would get each time I saw you in passing- just the chance to wave, wink, and have a brief conversation made my heart beat like a drum.

Worst of all, I remember how surprised, and hurt, I felt when you asked out a friend of mine- a sexier, more attractive friend– instead of me. She was just as surprised as I was. It tore me up inside.

Of course, your charm wore off. We grew up; we grew apart. I have no idea what you’re doing or where you are anymore. And you haven’t crossed my mind until my now.

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White Houses- Vanessa Carlton

My first experience of any kind was non-consensual. I knew it was wrong. I knew I didn’t want it. I knew I didn’t like it, even though society told me that I should. I didn’t know who to go to that night.

I went to you because I thought I would be safe with you. I was in shock, although I didn’t understand or realize what had just happened to me. I thought that’s what boys did to girls. I was told that that’s what boys did to girls.

I was so young, and naive, and vulnerable, when you told me it was only fair for me to lift up my shirt for you before you drove me home– you convinced me it was only fair, and I believed you. That makes us both fools. 

When the Stars Go Blue- Tim McGraw

Deep down, I don’t think you ever intended to be cruel.

Looking back now, I can laugh: at me, at you, and at everything and everyone. It is obvious now- you were immature, easily pressured, and wanted to fit in. Given your current circumstances, I get it. I understand.

I had such an attraction to you. With every touch, embrace, glance we shared, my heart fluttered. I’d hold onto those moments for weeks.

I’m not sure what initially drew me to you. You were new, relatively unknown; we shared common interests and friends but had hardly interacted before. You were mysterious, independent, but innocently boyish at the same time. You weren’t like the others, and I found that oh so refreshing.

We were friends, despite the one-sided feelings and the girlfriends you had. We always supported one another in our endeavors and overall the memories I hold are positive ones.

I was your friend, but nothing more. My physical looks would never fulfill your shallow expectations. And that’s alright by me.

I know deep down, you never meant to hurt me. You probably don’t remember or realize how much you hurt me. But words do hurt. And when I’m at my lowest, sometimes they still echo in my ears.

When we parted, things were good between us. We were okay; we had had our closure. As I see where you are in life now, I will always be grateful for that. You finally have what you’ve always wanted, and sometimes I cannot help but to raise my eyebrows, throw my head back, and chuckle in both astonishment and gratitude.

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Tim McGraw- Taylor Swift

When I think of you, I can only smile.

Thank you for being you. Thank you for the memories. You are a good person.

I only wish I had had the courage to tell you how I felt back when I was feeling. I wish I had had the strength, confidence, and courage to act on my feelings, permitted that the timing had been right.

The Winner Takes it All- Abba

The last time I saw you, our goodbye was somber.

And as you left, with her, tears welled up in my eyes, and I blinked them back. I fought between the urge to watch you disappear into the crowd, and to simply turn around, close my eyes, and not look back.

The hardest thing to admit about you and me is that we could have been great. Hell, we were great. But the timing was off; our wires crossed at the wrong time. You took me by surprise; I didn’t know what to make of it at first. It felt like a fire had suddenly rekindled itself after a long, hard winter. My mind went in one direction, and my body and heart another. I followed the ladder. It was a forbidden love like I had never experienced before.

I wish more than anything now that we’d have taken the leap. But we didn’t, because of her.

I regret not opening up. I regret not kissing you back. Perhaps if I had, maybe, just maybe, things would be different. But the truth is that obsessing over the “What if’s?” isn’t worth the time. I wasn’t ready, simple as that. I was still processing my feelings– how I felt about you, and us, and what was happening, and what could happen, especially because of her. Morally, things didn’t line up.

I was too late when I finally admitted to myself, and to you, how I felt. I was in love with you; you had chosen her; what we had had was an unspoken, forgotten thing of the past. Being selfless got me nowhere.

Would things have been different had I reacted differently– or more quickly? Or would things be exactly as they are now? I guess we’ll never know.

I tried to be like you. I tried to tiptoe around the elephant in the room. I tried to forget. I tried to let it go. I tried to move on. Because that’s what you’re supposed to do in situations like this.

But I couldn’t. I was in too deep. And I couldn’t tell if you were hiding the fact that you knew.

I couldn’t handle being second. I couldn’t handle being forgotten– tossed to the side. My heart was broken— it hurt too much, and I felt like it couldn’t be mended.

I was clinging on to something I knew I needed to let go of, because you had let go long before, leaving me in the dust. I hated the fact that you were okay. I hated the fact that you didn’t see or feel that anything was wrong.

I hated that you weren’t hurting while I was. I hated the fact that you expected me not to hurt. I hated that you didn’t feel what I was feeling. I hated you for moving on– for forgetting.

But most of all, I hate where we are now. I grieve the fact that you and I will never be the same, at least right now. You want them to be, and so do I, but I know they never will be. It all hurts to0 much. Each day, I grieve our friendship; I am mourn us- us as we were, and us as we could have been.

I can’t help but wonder if you miss me as much as I miss you. Am I really that easy to forget?

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Somebody That I Used to Know- Goyte

For the longest time, you were my dirty little secret. I didn’t tell a soul about you, and for the longest time I kept you buried deep in my memory.

You were the forbidden potential lover I couldn’t help but fantasize over. I knew it was inappropriate on so many levels, both morally and professionally, but sometimes I just couldn’t help myself. At first, I was shocked at your audacity. But then, I was even more shocked at how much I liked it. All the judgements I had ever made towards any other people in similar situations flew out the window.

I was witty, as you described me. I teased, and I flirted with the line, but I never crossed it. Whenever I think about you and me, I am forever grateful for my ability to see moral and to see reason. Because even if it felt good in the moment, I could not ignore how wrong it felt– how wrong it was.

You cut off contact with me, because really there was no point. I think I would have eventually done the same; it was just too creepy and weird. But sometimes I still check up on you– I can’t say I was surprised to see what I saw. I hope you’ll be okay.

Hello- Adèle

As I look back now, I realize that it was, and is, indeed you, and not me. At the same time, it was me, and not you.

I remember the day perfectly. In saying absolutely nothing, you said absolutely everything. That day, there were no more questions; everything was clear.

That night, I played my lovesick playlist on repeat while tears streamed down my face, long into the night. The day I left, I held it together until the train left the platform. I sobbed for days; I stayed in bed for a month. I think I knew, deep down, that this day was inevitable. Regardless, I still needed to mourn– both you, but more importantly all of my lost and wasted time over you. 

I realize now that it was all in my head– I was the idiot at hand. Holding on to you, and our friendship, and my feelings for you, symbolized so much more than the feelings I had for you. My holding onto you for so long was tied to me holding onto bigger dreams of my own– letting you go meant it was finally time for me to take those dreams into my own hands. I didn’t need you anymore, but I certainly needed that (philosophical) smack across the face to help me see the light.

I regret the time I spent obsessing over you- the time I spent hovered over my phone, and my inbox, clicking refresh over, and over again– just to see a half-assed message from you, months after I had sent the last. I regret the time I spent dissecting each word and every phrase.

I remember thinking that I would never arrive at this point: I now appreciate you, and I love you like a brother, but I feel absolutely nothing for you. I’ve forgiven you, because I don’t think you ever had anything to be sorry for. You were always just being you– you’ve always shown your true colors- it just took me awhile to see them for myself.

I think many of my friends and loved ones knew how I felt about you, but they are bigger people for never asking or judging. I’ve always had a hard time expressing my feelings of love, but regardless, I think you’re one of those stories I’ll mostly always just keep for myself.

Thanks for reading.

Bisous,

Dana

2 thoughts on “The Sunburn I Would Like To Save

  1. This is amazing. I think that it takes a lot of courage to be vulnerable to people that you really don’t know very well at all. I think that you are really inspiring for sharing this part of yourself. I also enjoyed how you wrote it, as personal letters to each and every person, as well as how you labeled each experience with a song. Great post. Thanks for opening up your heart to us.

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