I was in college. I loved her to a degree that I have no words for. I would come to find out that we had some mental health things in common. My intensity was not reciprocated and that made it very unbalanced. Unrequited love. We all know the story. But, I was not easily deterred. I would take the attention I could get, when I could get it. If you know anything about reward schedules, you know that variable-ratio is great way to keep someone coming back.
Overtime I became a little ( a lot?) codependent. Every R&B song I grew up listening to took a whole new meaning in my life. The experience really opened me up. I didn’t previously know or have the capacity to care about anyone or anything as much as I did her. These days I’m burdened with more empathy than I care to deal with.
At some point, I had convinced myself that if I truly took the space that was appropriate and that I needed then something horrible could happen. I was afraid of stopping. I really thought I could do something, was doing something. I had a 6th sense about her hospital stays. Maybe I could save her like I thought I had done before.
There was a real person that I cared for and couldn’t stop worrying about despite knowing in my mind that I couldn’t “save” her. And then there’s all the ideals, fears and insecurities that I projected onto her. What she symbolized for me was far more than what she could ever be in reality. For years I struggled with trying to be a loyal and supportive friend while also struggling to drown my romantic motivations. Over and over I would take space, then fear the consequences of me not "being there", try to be a friend, be disappointed in the lack of reciprocity, take space again...
I was obsessed. The cycles were unhealthy. I was stuck in my own mind and sometimes lost a sense of reality. She was my mission. Success meant that I was valuable. Failure would be devastating. It would be my fault.
The lesson here
i'm worth something even if I'm not saving the world or someone.
"You can't save everybody. In fact, there are days when I think you can't save anyone. Each person has to save himself first, then you can move in and help." - Laurell K. Hamilton (original context disregarded)