Editor’s note: this story was submitted anonymously.
The internet is a universe unto itself. 20 years ago, if you had told me I could fall for a woman without ever having met her, I’d have pronounced you insane and ceased further interaction with you. I’d have mocked you mercilessly. Now, however, I’d tell you that it’s happened to me more than once. I’d also tell you I hope it never happens to me again and that I’m actively taking steps to avoid this perilous situation.
Last year I met a lovely woman online. She is smart, beautiful, caring, and independent. That sounds like wonderful news and under different circumstances it would have been, but there was one small problem. She lives hundreds of miles away.
Despite the distance we managed to meet. I fell more deeply in love with her after spending some time with her. She returned my feelings, and that was a huge problem for both of us. Neither one of us were in a position to move, and she rejected the idea of a long distance relationship because she suspected she couldn’t remain faithful in such a circumstance.
She was right, of course. The logistics were impossible, but the heart cares not for logic. She told me she wanted to us to remain friends, and I shared that desire. I told her I’d rather have her in my life as a friend than not at all, and I meant it.
They say the road to hell is paved with the best of intentions. Whoever the hell they are, they seem to know what they’re talking about.
Following through on my promise was infinitely harder than I had anticipated. Interacting with her on a daily basis through various means and acting as though I was okay was impossible. I tried. I truly tried, but I couldn’t. I needed time away from her to work through my feelings for her, and I told her as much.
Two weeks later, and no contact between us other than a birthday wish she sent me, I was even worse off than I had been before. She consumed my thoughts. I couldn’t convince myself that there was no way we could make it work. I couldn’t escape her. I became desperate to elude my emotional prison. I had become trapped within a vortex of impossible desires.
To my utter shame, I contacted her and confessed I couldn’t stop thinking about her. I knew in my emotional state there was no way I could ever be her friend. So I told her that I needed to cut ties with her.
To this day I deeply regret this course of action.
She was, of course, upset. She reminded me of my promise to remain her friend. She reminded me that I was not the only one hurting. She became irate, and I honestly don’t blame her. Then I said something I fully regret and should never have said; I told her that unless she changed her mind we would need to go our separate ways.
What I meant and what she heard are two completely different things. I was saying that, for my mental well-being, I would need to separate myself completely from her so I could get over her. What she heard was an ultimatum. I wouldn’t find out for another 7 months, however, that what she heard was not what I intended her to hear.
A month or two later my emotional tempest had subsided and I reached out to her. I had time to think about things and realized that cutting her out of my life was a huge mistake and that I was wrong. I apologized. I asked her if we could attempt to rebuild our friendship. I told her I missed her.
She told me I was no longer welcome in her life.
Her response shocked to me. I was hoping for forgiveness. I was hoping for redemption. I was hoping I’d at least have a chance to show I was emotionally distraught and not of sound mind when I made that foolish decision. It sounds like a lame excuse, but it’s the truth. I was falling apart. I was struggling with my feelings for her and it plunged me into a bottom-less pit of depression. The bottom line was. . . I couldn’t handle it. I wasn’t strong enough for either of us.
Despite her request otherwise, I tried reaching out to her one more time. She didn’t respond so I quit trying.
Seven months later I was pretty much over the entire situation, then someone forwarded me an email. The email was from my ex-friend to the person who forwarded me the email. In the forwarded email she described me as an abuser – someone who lures women in with lies, uses them for my own desires, and then casts them out when I’m finished with them. I was a predator. I was a monster.
After initially reading the email I was pissed. I would never deny the fact that I fucked things up. I have, and will again, admit to my mistakes and that I mishandled the situation. I reacted rashly to my emotions. I’m an imperfect man. I have many faults. One of my many faults is NOT, however, being abusive. I have NEVER purposely hurt another human being. At least, not since I was in school. My actions were never aimed at hurting her. They were selfish. They were about MY hurt and eradicating it.
After I had time to calm down and process everything I became less angry and more hurt. I was actually pretty devastated. I’m not one who generally lets the opinions of others get to me. I don’t normally care what people think of me unless that person matters to me. Despite the time that had passed, I still cared for this woman and I cared what she thought about me. It absolutely destroyed me to know she thought so horribly of me. I mean, not only does she think I’m a horrible person, but she thinks I’m abusive, too. I drank myself into a stupor that night because I didn’t know how else to cope with the onslaught of pain.
I reached out to her, but she was rightly angry that her confidence had been violated by the person who forwarded me the email. I have tried a couple more times to contact her in an attempt to talk things out, but my pleas have gone unanswered.
I’ve had plenty of time to ponder things in the months since. I totally understand why she feels the way she feels. I made her promises and broke them almost immediately. Though it was not my intention, I made her feel like if she didn’t give me what I wanted I would withhold my friendship from her. It never even occurred to me that what I had said to her might be interpreted as an ultimatum until I read the email I was never intended to see.
So, I get it. I get her hurt. I understand her anger. What I don’t get is her steadfast refusal to listen to anything I have to say.
I know I hurt her. It’s unfathomable to me that I have the power to hurt someone so badly. Yet in the months we knew each other we knew each other. She knows about damn near every skeleton in my closet and I hers. We clicked from the very beginning. We were there for each other when the other needed consoling. We could say anything to each other; she was incredibly easy to talk to. We joked. We philosophized. We shared similar life struggles and could readily identify with each other’s plights. We had something special I think is worth salvaging and I guess it still kind of eats at me that she doesn’t.
I still hold out hope that one day she will see fit to give me a chance to be her friend again, or at the very least have a frank discussion about the fallout between us. I hold out hope that she’ll realize that I’m not an abusive man, but merely a flawed man who made the wrong decision in a moment of panic. I realize these are a fool’s hopes, but those hopes are ever anchored in the cockles of my soul. Though our fallout was a spectacular disaster, she still has a place in my heart. I still have pictures of us I can’t bring myself to delete. I have never deleted a single email she sent me, even the ones saturated with anger. I just can’t make myself do it.
I wish I wasn’t an idiot who doesn’t know how to handle his own emotions and hope one day that’s a skill I can master. I’m tired of leaving a trail burnt bridges in my wake.