The story of my Email Sunday Boyfriend is full of the kind of twists and turns that make me a tad nauseous. I hope he’s not offended by this description. But when I think about our journey to our relationship today, I get a little sick. Sick because there was an almost 16 year gap of us not speaking to each other. Yep. Sixteen years. So that would make me…well, it makes me old enough to recognize the genuine frailty of friendships and the courage to let down your ego and show your human side.
If you’ve been reading my blog and keeping score, you’ll recall my Email SB is my oldest SB…not in age, but in longevity. See, he was my first SB. And in some ways he set the tone for all my friendships with guys. We met in high school. He was, and remains, an outgoing, fun-loving guy who isn’t afraid to show his caring side. I think his ability to show sensitivity, compassion towards others, comes from his tough childhood. He and I would have many conversations on what it was like growing up with challenging situations. Although our situations differed, the hardships of those situations were more than just glue for our friendship, they were cement.
We both knew what it was like to be in situations where you grew up too quickly; but whereas he was more fun-loving, I was more serious. And I secretly didn’t want to be the “serious girl.” I wanted to be free of the adult-like overthinking that plagued my psyche since, well for as long as I can remember. So knowing my Email SB had childhood hardships and could present the world an outgoing attitude was liberating for me. It meant there was hope for me. If he could survive what he went through and still have a smile on his face, then I knew there was a chance I could be the girl that was craving to get out.
Despite going to different colleges, we remained friends. Because we shared so many stories of hardships, we were great sounding boards to discuss all our various drama-filled trysts. He was great at filling in the guy point-of-view that I was missing (and quite frankly needed to hear) and I filled in his girl point-of-view blanks. And I’ll be honest, these were fun conversations. I learned a great deal about the male mind. Sure, sure…I had guy friends and had conversations. But it was different with my Email SB. He was honest and frank with all the answers to my questions. So for that, I thank him dearly.
So what about the missing 16 years? Yeah, I knew you would ask that.
Well here’s the thing. After college, my Email SB and I moved in together. Just as friends. We thought it would be a good fit. We put in the time to really know each other as friends. We respected one another. We had jobs with totally different schedules, so we wouldn’t be intruding on each other’s “space”. But it was an adjustment. A really big adjustment on the heels of other big adjustments in my life; graduating from college, two part-time jobs, an internship, my father and grandmother’s deaths, and a new relationship.
Looking back, it’s easy to ask myself…”What the hell was I thinking? What made me think I could take on more change?” But at the time I thought if I give in to any of the grief of any of the bad change, I would fall so hard it would impossible to get back up. So I put all my grief in what I call my bad ju-ju room to deal with later and put all my energy into the good change. And I suppose, rather I know, to my friends I turned into someone else. Because that’s what happens when you don’t deal with the bad ju-ju in your life; you change. I eventually opened the door to my bad ju-ju room and faced my grief and myself. But that is another post for another time.
Because we were roommates, friends, my Email SB saw this change happening. And as with any good friend who doesn’t like to see his friend struggling to deal, he was upset. But his concern didn’t come out in the same caring way that I knew him for in the past. And we fought. We said hurtful things and reacted in hurtful ways. And we were stubborn. We didn’t talk about the fight afterward like adults. We found it better to stick to our young, strong-willed principles rather than show any sign of being wrong. Our roommate status lasted just three months and our friendship ended. Just. Like. That.
And it stayed like that for 16 years.
And during those 16 years there were moments, despite how our friendship ended, that I wished he was still in my world to give me the guy point-of-view and be in my corner. And I learned the hard lesson over those 16 years that stubbornness isn’t a sign of strength, it’s a sign of weakness. Because had I let myself be vulnerable to let a friend into what I was dealing with, well maybe I could have saved a friendship that I valued.
I was helping plan my high school reunion and suddently realized I may see him. So instead of not dealing with it, I thought enough was enough. Since our friendship ended I learned a great deal about humility and grace. By no means am I an expert on either. I still have plenty to learn. But I knew enough to recognize that if I was still missing our friendship after 16 years, then there was something I could do to try to change that…I could reach out. Certainly, there was no guarantee of reciprocal feelings of a renewed friendship, but it would stay the same if I didn’t try. And if you haven’t figured it out by now, I hate missed opportunities.
So I put my big girl pants on and set an email…and he sent one back.
As always, remember to be good to yourself, your Sunday Boyfriends, and stay comfy.