The Ex-Almost

It wasn’t really anything.

You couldn’t truly call it something.

It didn’t amount to much.

Neither of them did.

He was never realistically going to be your boyfriend.

You weren’t truly dating.

It didn’t amount to a fling.

But I still felt something.

I still fell for that guy the guy that was never going to be. And boy did I fall hard.

The ex-could-have-been.

The ex-what-if?

The ex-almost.

And if falling for the ex-almost wasn’t bad enough. I ended up falling for another one just a couple of weeks later.

In hindsight, I think I definitely fell for one that little bit more than the other. In fact, it was the one that was so out of my reach that I fell for the most. And I told myself not to, I knew nothing was ever going to happen. I knew it wasn’t serious and I told myself not to do it, not to fall for him, but I did.

I didn’t necessarily want a relationship and in fact I was scared of one. I was scared of opening up to a potential-something about my eating disorder and so I never did. It was something I was frightened of being judged upon, convinced I didn’t deserve anyone because I was so broken. Yet at the same time I wanted someone to fix me. I wanted to mean something to someone and I wanted someone to mean something to me.

I wasn’t looking for a relationship with either ex-almost but there was some potential with one and yet I think I fell for the other more. Admittedly, perhaps, my second ex-almost came at a time when I needed him and, although that makes him sound like a rebound, he wasn’t anything of the sort.

I was hurt by the way my first ex-almost ended things and I felt he could have handled it better. After a weekend where he accidentally stood me up…yes….that girl got accidentally stood up…on valentines day…yes…she did…then a last minute get together the day after, and suddenly he just didn’t want to talk to me. It wasn’t hard to get the picture from his messages. I knew he was busy and I didn’t mind that, but when you get with someone and they suddenly act as if they don’t want anything to do with you, its so easy to jump to the wrong conclusions. And in hindsight, I think that I did.

I never set out looking for something serious and I knew it was never going to be that. I knew from the beginning and I was under no false pretences. In fact, I think that’s why I allowed myself to go there in the first place, because I was scared of ‘serious’ and knew this was never going to be anything of the sort.

I didn’t even hang out with him that much and I tried to keep my emotions in check but I let myself feel something. I let myself fall. And that’s why I was so hurt. I felt I could have protected myself better. I felt like I had been so stupid. But I fell for him and there’s no denying that.

24 hours of feeling sorry for myself and ex-almost number two accidentally comes along. Genuinely by accident. I still thought I wasn’t after something serious but this was the first time I let down that wall. I told him about my eating disorder and he didn’t judge me, in fact, he made me feel better. He took away some of the shame and the internal stigma seemed to fade.

For the first time I let myself consider the potential of being in a relationship. The first time since my long-term ex who had hurt me so badly over and over again. I had happily had fun with friends and had also turned down guys who were interested in something more. But for the first time I let myself open up and when he told me he didn’t want anything more than what we ‘were’, a pretty debatable term seeing as neither of us had a clue what we ‘were’ anyway, I was heartbroken.

I couldn’t understand it though.

I genuinely couldn’t work out why I felt so much pain. I didn’t understand the emotion.

I hadn’t known him long. Nothing we were doing indicated something serious in the future. We hadn’t really dated and we weren’t truly treating each other as a fling. So why did it hurt? Why was I crying down the phone to my best friend? Why was I running home to Newcastle because all I wanted was a hug from my mum?

Back then I didn’t know. But now I do.

That was the trigger moment.

That was when I relapsed.

And it wasn’t their fault. I would hate for anyone reading this to think that either of my ex-almosts treated me badly. They didn’t. In fact, they were honest and I can’t ask for more than that. I had been with guys before who weren’t going to amount to anything so I couldn’t understand why I was hurting so bad over these two.

It’s because I felt as if everything had gone. I had no swimming. I was struggling with my workload. I had gained weight. And the two things that potentially helped me feel normal, that maintained the small glow of positive thoughts in my head had gone.

The thing I miss about my first ex-almost was the banter. I have no idea if he felt the same, or if he considered me completely mental (which is probably true) but I actually enjoyed chatting to him and he made me laugh nearly every day. There was never much flirting but when we did it was good. I mean, it was good. I didn’t really have that with my second ex-almost. He was handsome, sweet, funny and I loved that he was ambitious but I think I was hurting because I felt as if I had lost a friend in the first.

I was missing the near-daily conversations. I noticed I wasn’t getting texts that made me smile in the way that his did. I felt like I had lost something and I wanted it back but I had to accept that it was gone. It was impossible to be friends with him. And I felt weak. I felt weak for needing his friendship. How did I become dependent on someone I only met about 5 weeks earlier?

But I ended up surprised. A month or so later when I was at rock bottom, when I felt like the world was caving in and I had nowhere to turn, he ended up being there. 2 months later he was there and it was completely unexpected. I may have foolishly written something on social media but it never once crossed my mind he would read it and contact me.

I actually remember it happening. I remember the three-way-emergency-skype-call I was having with my best friends and just as we were signing off he text me. Those two were just as shocked as me! I remember dropping my phone and was actually momentarily scared to look at it because I couldn’t work out why in the world he would be texting me.

He said he didn’t want to be weird but could tell something was up and wanted to see if I was alright.

It hurt so much but I let myself open up. I was sat crying on my bed but I let myself tell him what was going on. I ignored the voice telling me to be ‘strong’ by remaining silent and I told him. He reacted better than I ever expected. And that was when I realised something. He didn’t have to text me. He didn’t have to notice I was down and reach out. But he did. This ex-almost cared.

This ex-almost was a friend.

I still don’t truly understand it but his words helped me more than he will ever realise. I realised I didn’t necessarily fall for him in the romantic sense, but the way in which you fall for a friend. As crazy as that sounds, that is how I can best describe it and that was why I hurt when he didn’t really want to be friends anymore. Because boys come and boys go. Relationships start and relationships end. But it is your friends that are there throughout it all. And whilst I was on the verge of relapse that was what I needed. I needed friends and I felt as if I had lost one.

And whilst ex-almost number two was a wonderful guy, he almost acted as a distraction, as soon as he left, I was reminded of the friend I had lost. And it wasn’t until he text me that I realised I hadn’t really lost him at all. He was there, and yes, we weren’t talking, and yes, I’m yet to actually speak to him rather than just wave at him in the library, but he was there when other people weren’t. He was one of the people who didn’t know about my eating disorder on but he was the one who wanted to check if I was alright.

He’s still an ex-almost but more importantly, in that one moment, on that one friday night, he was a friend. He was exactly what I needed right there and then and even though he doesn’t know it, I’ll never forget him or his influence in my recovery.

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