May I Have Your Attention, Please?
“How long ‘til I’m better?” I inquired to my therapist one day.
“Well, I can’t put a figure on it,” he replied, jotting something in his notes.
“Um, I beg to differ. The invoices you send me monthly say otherwise.”
As I left his office, I realized I needed to take some initiative toward moving on and away from my defunct relationship with Jim. What do you do when the relationship you’ve been longing and fighting for – what felt like – years deconstructs, crushing your self-worth? Travel!
I decided to put my hospitality background to good use and go work for one of those all-inclusive resorts. I soon discovered I was living a real life version of Dirty Dancing. For example, the romantically challenged staff lived in dorms on property, and the powers that be insisted that we simply “make the guests happy…no matter what.”
Along my orientation tour of the village, I met JR. A dead ringer for Mark Wahlberg, JR was – ironically enough – the dance instructor for the resort. As he exuded confidence and charm, chatting me up, I definitely sensed…something. I became unnaturally timid and dim-witted, which meant I was already smitten.
So, instinctively, I went on the defense. Was I self-sabotaging or was it simply an early detection device, letting me know that this person isn’t good for me?
Through his persistence, we became friends. We shared meals, dating horror stories and goals. Almost nightly, we would end up in his room, talking until all hours and fall asleep together. Within a matter of time, when JR would call me to come “cuddle,” it would inevitably turn into sex.
I tried to keep myself grounded and not get caught up in feelings, but as it turns out, seeing someone you work with is like a concentrated relationship. You eat, work and struggle side by side. Admittedly, I couldn’t help but think, “Jackpot! I’m fucking Marky Mark!”
The fantasy was burst when I found out he was seeing someone. His longtime boyfriend – whom he had insisted was no longer – came to visit.
Afterwards, I respectfully backed off, only to have him seek me out and act more attentive and affectionate. Later, I would hear from mutual friends that he was claiming I was saying things like, “We’re meant to be” and that I was being too clingy.
“Enlighten me,” I erupted on him one day. “I am all about labels and boundaries so if I’m barking up the wrong tree, I need to have you Just Be my friend. Stop trying to make me out to be “the crazy one.”’
As the months wore on, he continued to pursue and – all but – depend on me. In return, I would get sucked back in. Then, WHAMO! He would take a giant emotional step backwards. Why does that make us feel the need to hold on even tighter?
Although there was always the chance that he was actually disinterested and I was just making it all up in my head, the more likely case is due to the one flaw that the majority of men have: They’re stupid.
Even though I was clearly following the same tumultuous path from my past, I kept thinking that if I have enough perseverance and upped my pain threshold, it will either work out between us…or I’ll end up a crazed lunatic.
As aggravating as it was, I couldn’t help but think about him, talk about him; even the mention of his name made me light up like a twink on poppers. His actions said he had feelings for me but his words said “I’m not looking for a serious relationship.”
On his last night on property, the staff was having a party. I asked to “borrow” him. He seemed to know exactly what I needed and grasped my hand, leading me to the dancefloor. As Berlin’s “Take My Breath Away” played, I had my first slow dance with a man…a man I had (stupidly) fallen for.
The next morning, as we waited for his ride to arrive, we embraced. Without hesitation, “I love you” slipped from my lips. He had no response. As he boarded the charter bus to the airport, I knew that would be the last time we spoke. Sometimes it’s simply about knowing you can feel love again.
Erik Fact: People will tell you who they really are, if you just listen.