I’m going to dwell on every little eye glance. On every touch, every attempt to pin me against the counter and whisper songs into my ear while you slightly brush your beard up against my neck. I’m going to dwell on the times I asked how your day was and you replied with, “Better, now that you’re here.”
I’m going to catch myself staring at you while you’re blissfully unaware and trying to get that essay done before midnight. I’m going to play songs on repeat that remind me of you—the ones that mirror how I’m feeling about you and about “our situation” at the moment, switching between sexual frustration, thankfulness, and utter hopelessness. I’m going to tell a couple of absolute close friends and a couple people who will never meet you about how I feel about you. I will tell my therapist about how I can’t tell if you’re just so comfortable with me because we’re best friends and whether or not you might actually be hiding those feelings by joking about them. I’ll convince myself there’s no way you could possibly joke this much without possibly being serious about it.
I’ll get all breathy and heady when you pull my head into yours so our noses touch while you stare into my eyes. I’ll tell myself you’re just really theatrical and like being funny and try to make your friends laugh. I’ll remind myself you’re like this with most girls, and that I shouldn’t take it personally.
I’ll realize after you sleep with a random girl at a party that just because we’re best friends doesn’t mean I’m immune to feeling hurt. I’ll finally understand all those warnings about getting involved with a friend or someone you’re close with, because it changes your relationship forever. I’ll try to trick myself into thinking we can still be best friends without it ever becoming a problem for me.
I’ll pull myself into a deep hole, I’ll wallow in self-pity. I’ll attempt to slow it down at first, recognizing the acceptance of it actually means what I feared to be true. I’ll find a song that I didn’t know had so much depth and meaning and listen to it for 24 hours straight by making a one-song playlist of it. I’ll be incredibly distant for about a day or two until I realize I’m the only one allowing you to have this much control over me.
I’ll drink a lot more red wine than I usually do for about a week straight, smoke more than I should, and look up related articles online about “how to tell your best friend you love them.” I’ll scrutinize every one of our encounters, trying to make them as flirty and suggestive as possible. I’ll wonder if I’m ever going to be loved back, if my efforts will ever be reciprocated, if I’ll ever be on the receiving end of these songs about passion that I’m somehow completely drawn to. I’ll accept a friend’s offer to go out on a Tuesday night, to wear my new pants that make my legs look miles long, the ones I couldn’t manage to wear out this past weekend because I got too drunk and fell asleep at my friends’ house. I’ll get too drunk off red wine—again—and hope that you’re not out, too. So you don’t see me. So you don’t have to think I’m a mess.
I’ll scold myself for letting these feelings wander, for not stopping them when they began. I’ll scold myself for thinking I could enjoy the daydream just as a means to keep my mind busy during the day, as a tactic to seem uninterested when I meet other guys out and hopefully attract them by my indifference. I’ll realize this all doesn’t matter and that I can’t control my feelings.
I’ll learn that feelings aren’t meant to be controlled.
I’ll learn to sit with them, these feelings. I’ll learn how to sit in my own uncomfortableness, in my own awkwardness, in my own grief. I’ll probably still think about you all the time, wondering how the sex would have been and how much I would have liked hanging out with your mom over holidays. I’ll tell myself it just wasn’t meant to be and that something else will come along.
And something else might. Something else probably will. But if and when the time comes that I’m not simply daydreaming about loving you anymore, I’ll be there for you.
image – Shutterstock
Welcome to Dear Life: An Unconventional Advice Column.
Your questions get sent to various authors from around the world to answer (and please keep sending because I have like 567 writers that want to answer your burning questions. Click here to submit a letter or email email@example.com.) Different writers offer their input when it comes to navigating through life’s messiness. We are “making messy okay.” Today’s letter is answered by Eva Hagberg, who has gorgeously answered another Dear Life a few months back.
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xo, Jen Pastiloff, Beauty Hunter.
Over the past few months I’ve been stuck in a complicated matter of the heart.
I have fallen really hard for my best friend. She and I have been friends for a little over a year and our relationship has always been more than just a friendship and less than an actual boyfriend and girlfriend relationship. We have always been mushy with each sending mushy texts, pics and saying deeply heartfelt things to eachother which would make others think we were a couple (which most thought we were). I know she’s the one who I want to spend the rest of my life with and she’s the other half to my whole. The feelings have been mutual since the beginning.
Here’s where it’s gets extremely complicated she started seeing someone in may and they’ve gotten even closer since and she told me they love each other very much. I told her how I felt and let out all of my feelings for her last month and she was completely surprised by it in a good way but she’s with her boyfriend at the moment. I told her I loved her (even told her on her birthday in June) which she thought that was just as close friends and said she had no idea. We got into a little argument few weeks ago but we resolved that. I love her with all my heart and know she’s the love of my life. I want to fight for her but that’s not possible right now and since she lives in a different state now. I believe it’s a case of the right person at the wrong time. What do you think I should do? It’s driving me crazy since I feel so helpless right now. Any input would be greatly appreciated.
Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the Tuscan hills above. No yoga experience required. Only requirement: Just be a human being. Yoga + Writing + Connection. We go deep. Bring an open heart and a sense of humor- that’s it! Summer or Fall 2015.
First of all, I’m so sorry that it has taken this long to get a response to you. Jen Pastiloff sent this to me a few months ago, and I remember connecting so deeply with it that I immediately jumped on it. And then… I started feeling like I wouldn’t actually be able to help you…. like I wouldn’t really know what to say…. worrying that if I did the wrong thing then you would do the wrong thing and then all hope would be lost. I started thinking that my response somehow would actually have the power to alter the course of your life, and significantly, and all of that pressure and worrying made it so that even as I always thought about this in the back of my mind, and started drafting responses, none of them ever felt quite good enough.
As soon as I realized that, though – I realized, this might be close to how you feel. That your next action with your friend is going to absolutely and irrevocably alter the course of your – and her – life forever.
I feel for you. I really do. I know these friendships – these deep and intimate and heartfelt and beautiful and romantic-without-kissing friendships, friendships that you know will change your life forever regardless of how they end up. I have had those friends where everyone thought we were a couple, or were about to be, or obviously must secretly be, because of the strength of our connection and the right-ness of our togetherness. And yet, I never crossed that line with those friends, and in a month I will marry the person who I know, absolutely and without a doubt, is the person I’m supposed to be with.
It sounds to me like you love her deeply and also, and this is crucial, like you have an idea of exactly how that love needs to look. She has a boyfriend right now, which tells me that no matter how much she may secretly love you, she is simply not available right now. Now – I never used to let this bother me; if I believed that someone had feelings for me, I felt that they were available. But there is a difference between depth of feeling and level of availability, and she may love you deeply and beyond all time and space, and not be available to even hear what you have tried to tell her.
You say it’s a case of right person wrong time. I think in that case it is both right person right time (and I’ll get to that), and also, and so sadly, it’s wrong person wrong time – because if it was the right person, it would be the right time. We are culturally conditioned to believe that if something is challenging and difficult and also very complicated, it must then be worth fighting for – and once we think something is worth fighting for we start thinking we live in Romeo + Juliet and must have this person at all costs. Before I met my fiance, I believed that many of the people I’d dated or lived with or fallen in love with or just known were the right people at the wrong time. But they were actually exactly the people that I needed to meet, which is why they were the right people at the right time. The boy I met on a business trip who got me so twisted up that I ended up leaving New York? – I needed to leave New York. It didn’t work with him, because that wasn’t the role he was supposed to play in my life. But he played an absolutely essential role.
We can fight the current or we can go with it. And the current in your life is pulling you away from a romantic relationship with this woman, for now. You know that she is the love of your life, and I believe you. I believe that she is a love of your life. As I prepare to get married in a month, part of my process is recognizing that there are people who will live in my heart forever, without whom my life would not be the beautiful, messy, glorious, courageous, incredible gift that it is. They are loves of my life as much as this man who will be my husband is a love of my life, in a different way. Things with him are easy and uncomplicated, and at the same time he offers me the most challenging and lively awakenings I could ever imagine, every single day. The other loves are friend loves, different loves. Loves that taught me how to love him. I had a friend who died last year, and she loved me and I loved her in a way that opened up a new section of my heart that had never been touched before. She wasn’t my partner, my romantic future. But she was a love of my life. And the way that she loved me prepared me for the way that my fiance does now.
I don’t know who this person who you love should be to you, but I know what she is to you right now. Someone who has taught you that you have a beautiful, powerful, deep capacity to love someone else. And when we love someone, we give them an uncomplicated gift. When we need something back from them, when we need them to start acting the way we think they need to act so that they fall in line with our idea of what needs to happen, we no longer love them for who they are, as they are. I think that you should start there, with honoring the part of your heart that this friend has introduced you to. And with letting go of how you think your love for her needs to look. Just love her. You do. We don’t know what’s going to happen, and we don’t know what’s supposed to happen. But I do know that the more we love, the more we grow, and the more we are able, when it’s right, to love as fully and as freely as we deserve.
Eva Hagberg is a writer, teacher, editor, and PhD Candidate in the one-person interdisciplinary Department of Visual and Narrative Culture, which she created at UC Berkeley. Her dissertation explores the intimate professional and personal relationships between three mid-century modernist architects and their wives, and offers a revisionist and narrative-focused understanding of what the work is, how it got made, and what it means.
Her work on architecture and design has been published in multiple publications including Metropolis, Wallpaper*, Dwell, Surface, the New York Times, T: The New York Times Magazine, and esquire.com.
She is the author of two books on architecture, Dark Nostalgia and Nature Framed, and of the best-selling Kindle Single, “IT’S ALL IN YOUR HEAD,” which documents her five-year search for a medical diagnosis and consequent travels in the land of maybe-cancer, and which was selected as one of Amazon’s Best Digital Singles of 2013. She currently lives in Oakland, California, and really likes to bake.
Do you want the space and joy to get back into your body?
To get into your words and stories? Join Jen Pastiloff and best-selling author Lidia Yuknavitch over Labor Day weekend 2015 for their 2nd Writing & The Body Retreat in Ojai, California following their last one, which sold out in 48 hours. You do NOT have to be a writer or a yogi.
“So I’ve finally figured out how to describe Jen Pastiloff’s Writing and the Body yoga retreat with Lidia Yuknavitch. It’s story-letting, like blood-letting but more medically accurate: Bleed out the stories that hold you down, get held in the telling by a roomful of amazing women whose stories gut you, guide you. Move them through your body with poses, music, Jen’s booming voice, Lidia’s literary I’m-not-sorry. Write renewed, truthful. Float-stumble home. Keep writing.” ~ Pema Rocker, attendee of Writing & The Body Feb 2015
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Please note: Advice given in Dear Life is not meant to take the place of therapy or any other professional advice. The opinions or views offered by columnists are not intended to treat or diagnose; nor are they meant to replace the treatment and care that you may be receiving from a licensed physician or mental health professional. Columnists acting on behalf of Dear Life are not responsible for the outcome or results of following their advice in any given situation.
Featured image by AngelsWings.
The Manifest- Station
The Manifest-Station was created by Jennifer Pastiloff. Angela Patel is editor and full-time badass. These two beauty-hunters curate content that will move you, make you think, and remind you what it means to be human. Jen leads her workshops (The Manifestation Workshop: On Being Human) all over the world & online. Check the tab at the top under retreats/workshops. Jen is also the founder of "Girl Power: You Are Enough," to remind young women that yes, they do have a place in this world and they are enough. No matter what. Jen is represented by Adriann Ranta at Foundry Media. For queries please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. And remember: Don't Be An Asshole. To contribute to our scholarship fund to help send a woman to a workshop/retreat please donate here: