Short story / fiction…
I always felt like we had a strong connection but I was never entirely sure. There were times I felt like he could have feelings for me and times when I was convinced it was all in my head. One moment he seemed to be dropping hints that there was something there and the next moment he was making it clear that there was nothing between us. I didn’t know how to feel, what to think, how to act… I forced myself to shut down completely, to numb myself, so I could escape this vicious and endless cycle.
I had known him for years at my church and he was a teacher for Sunday school classes. Sometimes I would help with assistance. His students were only around five, six, seven years old; they were so cute and adorable but also too much to handle at times and I don’t know how he does it! He is very charming and everyone comes to him for a laugh, even for serious advice.
I was incredibly embarrassing when I first met him. I only joined the church a few years ago and he had been there for much longer so everybody knew him. I tried hiding my feelings, I felt it was very inappropriate of me to be crushing on somebody in the Lord’s home, but I could not help myself. And I just acted like a ditz, followed him around like a puppy dog, fall into giggle fits when he’d speak to me instead of carrying on a normal conversation.
But I knew that we had no future together. I tried so hard to keep stuffing my feelings down. I knew he would never actually fall in love with me — and I was with someone else! Diego was a next door neighbor who I had grown up with, a family friend, and our parents had basically arranged for us to be together. H. We had been engaged since high school graduation, but many years followed and we still never set a date. I started to question if he was actually the one.
Our church had a Valentine’s celebration and that’s when I was sure that Teo most certainly felt something for me. It was really fun — there was a live band, tons of homemade baked goods, fun crafts we could do. Everyone was there of all ages, from children running around to seniors in wheelchairs. We could all just relax together.
Well, Teo got me a valentine card that wrote, “to the sweetest girl I know!” And then he asked to dance with me! He stayed with me the whole night and didn’t pay attention to any other girl.
I was really excited after that. I realized I needed to leave my boyfriend and go be with him. But as I continued to see him on Sunday’s he still wouldn’t make a move. I couldn’t take it anymore and needed to know where I stood! I asked him if we could talk and pulled him aside. I barely got the words out but he stopped me when he already knew what I was getting at and immediately shut me down. He said I was just a friend to him, and it would be strange anyway for church members dating each other, how everyone would know and gossip about it.
I was so distraught that I had to cut him out of my life. It was too difficult for me to continue being friends. I could have been a little more honest and mature about it, but I was so angry that I completely shut down without explanation. I watched him from afar flirting with all the girls and felt so disgusted, couldn’t believe that girl was once me, and I had fallen for his tricks. He was such a player who had completely lead me on and didn’t even feel any remorse.
I was so close to leaving my boyfriend, but after being rejected by Teo I felt so delusional. I was too heartbroken to think straight. I should have left him anyway, but I was so distraught and he was my only distraction, the only thing left keeping me sane. So I simply forced myself to focus on my relationship, secretly hoping that Teo would come around someday…
Months later and I ran to him, I couldn’t take it anymore, and I burst out, “I can’t stop thinking about you!” Now this was the moment when he should’ve let me jump into his arms and have our happy ending and be together. But real life doesn’t work like that. He told me he was with someone else, and that I was being crazy, and that he didn’t want to speak to me ever again.
That was it. No choice but to move on. I had to force myself to be in love with someone else, because he was also in love with someone else. I was too weak to go on. I spent every day in torture and misery, just praying for some kind of miracle. I just kept thinking of him, over and over, and over and over, and over and over!!! I tried hypnotherapy but that was no use! I thought about switching churches all the time, but seeing a glimpse of him once a week, even for a second, was the only thing keeping me alive! Being tortured watching his arms around others girls, letting him insult me and humiliate me in front of everyone, was better than nothing at all.
One day I asked the church director if I could assist teaching one of his classes again, like I used to. And then the director denied me and told me that had he specifically requested I do not assist any of his classes. I thought that would’ve been a great way to become close again, but he really didn’t want to see me anymore.
Most of the time Teo was a complete jerk to me, but on rare occasion he was a total sweetheart. I was completely confused. At times I felt we still had a chance but then I would feel like it was absolutely hopeless. He hurt me so much, so many times, but then I would hurt him back, and it would go on and on.
Finally, after some time, he came to me when we were all alone. He said, “Steveanna, I know we’re going to be together!” I was shocked, stunned, I couldn’t believe it! I was so weary after all those years of horrible pain. I had lost trust in him, mainly lost trust in my own perception and judgment. He started talking to me again, after all that time of refusing to speak or be friends, and now he was coming forward like he was trying to pursue me. This is what I wanted all along but it was too good to be true. I thought, maybe he’s joking around, maybe he’s playing… but I really couldn’t deny it anymore.
“I love you!” he said, “I love you more!” I replied.
And yet there was still so much pain in both of our hearts. We had been holding back from one another for too long.
It’s really hard to recover from a broken heart, even when the person who broke it comes to you themselves and tries to fix it again. It’s especially difficult when this person had broken your heart over and over again, countless times. It’s also just to hard to look back and remember all the things you did to them out of spite and revenge, just because they hurt you. It takes a great amount of bravery to confront mistakes and damage done in the past. You have to muster as much hope as you possibly can to even begin that two people can recover from that.
I looked back on the past several months and felt so ashamed of all the times I acted out of insecurity, cowardliness, and fear. If only I had more faith in myself, I would have been a better person. And I looked back on all the times he too had acted out of insecurity, cowardliness, and fear — if only he had more faith.
I let him come back to me but I suppose I was too cautious, too weary, too scared. So he got more distant, which got me more doubtful, which made him even more distant until he completely shut down.
And then I realized, it was happening again! The same pattern I observed in the past — all this hurt and damage that happens because we don’t have enough faith, instead we act through fear. I was doing it again, I was doubting him. But this time I could make a change!
It was time for a leap of faith! I needed to prove to Teo that I was actually serious about him. I broke my engagement with Diego (he never even got me a ring!) I moved into my own place and made sure it had extra space for Teo to join me. I had so many fears but this time I made the conscious choice to keep pushing through them!
And then I was going to run to him and explain everything and try to get that second chance once and for all. But it was impossible to find him alone. At the church, there was always someone around. I couldn’t even assist teaching classes with him anymore, he had asked the church director to keep us apart. Every time I saw him he was with someone. When I did find him alone, he’d run the other way.
“TEO!” I called out, “HEY!”
He wearily turned around and looked at me with skepticism. “What?” he was finally willing to listen.
We were one of the last few people to leave church that day, finally alone, in the parking lot. I had to stay late on purpose and follow him as soon as he left. I felt so desperate, borderline stalking him at this point. But I had no choice left!
“Where are you going?” I ran towards him.
“Going home…?” he pointed at his car and looked at me like I had two heads.
“Come over!” I insisted, “Let’s get out of here, come to my place where we can actually get some privacy, and we can at last, be honest with each other! Let me apologize! Let me explain everything! Let’s sort this out! And we can be together!”
“What are you talking about?”
“I love you! And we’re going to be together! That’s what you said, right?”
“Why are you coming to me now? What is going on?”
“Because I’ve realized life is too short! I’ve been scared for too long!” It felt so cheesy like a rom-com but it was exactly what I felt!
But he was resistant. I must have waited too long. He said, “I told you that I’m with someone else.”
“No, not anymore! You came to me! Don’t you remember! You said you love me!”
“I didn’t mean it like that. I was just trying to be friends again. I love you like a friend. But you took it too literally. I don’t even want you talking to me anymore.”
And then once again it was hopeless and it was all in my head. I tried so hard to keep talking to him but he kept shutting me down. And then he would turn as if he wanted to talk again, but I was so hurt and confused.
Every time he seemed to open up, I was closed. And every time I opened up, he would close.
There was no choice left but to give up.
More and more time passed.
I heard my phone buzz on a Friday night. I picked up to see a text message from him saying, “I’m outside.”
My heart was thumping like an anxious rabbit. I was just getting settled for bed. My makeup was off and my hair was all messy. I had my pajamas on. My place was a wreck because I had become too depressed to clean. I peeped out my curtains to see him standing out there and my jaw dropped.
I ran down the stairs and swung the door open. Before he could even speak, I jumped into his arms and kissed him as hard as I could! At last, the timing was right! We were both open!
And then I opened my eyes. Alone in bed. It had only been a dream. It was hopeless and we could never be.