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I’m not supposed to feel this way.
I don’t deserve to feel this way. I’m being dramatic. This isn’t about me.
But it feels like it’s about me—I’ve been in your bed and you’ve been in mine. We’ve danced this dance for over a year.
And now you’re in an ICU bed in a coma.
The last time I talked to you was just five days ago. I’d deleted your number, and you reached out a week ago, telling me you were thinking about me. I said, “Who’s this?” You said you could use a hug and a kiss. You vented to me about your day. And now you’re fighting for your life. Your sweats are in my drawer.
But you were never my boyfriend. We never dated. We shared the same bed from time to time and you told me that you thought highly of me. That you liked my paintings. That I was a good person.
I felt like I was choking when I heard the news.
I felt guilty for feeling the way I did. I felt silly, I felt ridiculous for not being able to gain my composure. I had to go to work in 10 minutes, but I was fighting to breathe. And now, I think you’re doing the same. I feel like I don’t deserve to feel this way, like I have no right to feel how I do.
Because you and I were not a thing. I was the girl you hooked up with.
I was the girl you said you were thinking about, and then you’d disappear for weeks at a time. I was the girl you bought flowers for in the beginning, and always a cookie, and one time, wine, even though you don’t drink. I was the girl who called you late at night. I was the girl who you offered a ride home, and then followed her inside. I was the girl whose feet you massaged, the one you FaceTimed to see what I was doing on a Sunday afternoon. I was the girl you tried to rescue after she left a five-year relationship. I was the girl who ended up at your house with a suitcase the night I met you.
I was also the girl who you drove out to pick up, only to turn around and drop her right back off after we hooked up.
I was not the girl.
But I was a girl. And I was involved. And I’m not sure there’s a recipe for how the “hook-up” girl grieves a tragedy as such.
So let me write one:
You deserve to feel whatever the hell you feel. You are a person with thoughts and feelings and flesh and bones. You are real and you are love. If you don’t feel anything, you might as well be a psychopath. You were intimate. You were friends, on some level. You were something.
If you would feel sadness for a stranger who is experiencing what your hook-up buddy is, why would this not hit you like a train?
But it is lonely. Because you are not the girl.
The family and the friends don’t know about you. You grieve alone. You cry alone. You wait and wonder what will happen to him.
And you feel, you feel hard. Because that’s what you do, you feel and you have more compassion than anything else in this world. You wonder. You wish you could do something to take away this helpless feeling. You feel stuck in time. You try to make sense of your emotions. You start overthinking every connection you have. You think about withdrawing from people, from love, from connection entirely. You question your choices.
You cared about him. You struggle to admit that to yourself.
You tell yourself it’s okay that you cared, it’s okay that you still care.
You put one foot in front of the other.
And then you add your own piece to this recipe book.