Josh and I had slept together. Soon after that, he had slept with his best friend’s recent ex-girlfriend, who was also his friend, as well as mine. Then he had told me that he wanted me back, which led to the ex-girlfriend blowing a gasket, drunkenly telling her ex-boyfriend what happened between her and Josh, and then soberly being a bitch to me.
Within moments, Ryan hated Josh, Josh hated Bri, Bri hated me, and I hated her.
It was a rough morning.
Josh and I spent the rest of the day together, doing what we did best: driving around in that truck of his, talking. He told me more about what had gone on between him, Ryan, and Bri that summer, while he and I weren’t talking. More about the night Bri had come over.
WHY didn’t he stop himself, I asked. He didn’t know, he didn’t know. That was always his answer.
That entire day, I’d been consumed by Joshua’s emotions. He was devastated. He was sure that when Bri told Ryan, she had spun the events to make herself look better. Yes, well, maybe if he hadn’t slept with her, that wouldn’t have been an issue. Try that idea on for size.
I’m realizing now just how much I was all about him. I’ve known it since the beginning, but the immensity of it is only now hitting me, and it’s quite alarming. After he told me he wanted me back, I’d found out that he had slept with my friend soon after he’d slept with me. AND I WAS COMFORTING HIM.
That’s a problem.
He had made these bad decisions. He had done this to himself. He’d only been thinking about himself when he slept with her. He’d only been thinking about himself when he professed his feelings to me. He was only thinking about himself that day, when it all went to shit.
It wasn’t until later that afternoon that I started to realize that today, he needed to think about me.
I will acknowledge, however, that it’s a little unfair of me to say that day he should have been more attentive to my feelings. Regardless of how much he was to blame, it was really hard on everyone. It was kind of a lot to handle.
I brought to focus to myself. Honestly though, it was difficult. Not on his part, by any means. Once he realized that I was upset, he was there for me. No, the difficulty came from me. My revelation was less “how could he do this to me” and more “logically, he should be worried about my feelings.”
At least I still possessed some semblance of logical thought.
Then that rare moment of common sense was gone, and I became a little too reasonable. He and I weren’t together when it happened. He didn’t owe me anything. He could sleep with whoever he wanted. Even his best friend’s ex-girlfriend, though that clearly wasn’t a great idea in any regard.
It wasn’t until much later that I saw how flawed my empathetic logic was.
While his little tryst with Bri did eventually become a great source of anxiety for me, it initially wasn’t the problem. What bothered me was how he was able to blatantly disregard his friendship with Ryan. How he didn’t put a stop to Bri’s flirtation. How he took responsibility for everything that he did, yet couldn’t tell me why he did it.
He didn’t know why, but I did. I knew him. I understood. Always.
I’m pretty good at reading people if I have enough information. At least, I was good at reading Joshua. I don’t want to be presumptuous about these opinions that I have. I haven’t studied anything that would make them valid or reliable. I may have not known him completely, but I knew plenty. It wasn’t easy to understand. He gave me all the information, but it was complicated and confusing. I knew his family, his past, his secrets. I knew what he had wanted his life to be.
I had him all figured out.
I asked him if he wanted to know what I thought. About what? His life. He did. I told him how previous situations and things he had done influenced him now. I told him who he was, what he thought, how he acted. He had never pieced his life together like that, but he was impressed. He said I was right. I think that it was almost a relief to him, that there were reasons why he was an asshole.
No, Lady Gaga, he was not “just born that way.”
As much as I empathized though, these weren’t excuses. He didn’t deserve me, and he knew it. He always knew it. He didn’t want me to leave him; he didn’t want to lose me. He had just lost two of his closest friends. He said he’d do anything.
Oh really now? Anything?
He needed to work on himself. Simple as that. Josh had a tendency to avoid problems rather than face them. No, actually conquering them would be far too scary. If he didn’t deal with some of his issues, we would end up just like last time. I wanted him to move forward with his life. It was time to do some things that he didn’t want to do.
If he agreed to face them, he would be proving to me just how much he was willing to do to keep me in his life. He didn’t deserve me, but he could if he tried.
I was asking a lot of him, and he really didn’t want to. He took some time to decide, but he knew I was right. He decided to give it a shot. I cannot emphasize how much of a big deal that was. It was naïve of me to think that it would be as simple as that, but it was a start.
That was the most difficult part of our relationship. He wanted to be better, so I pushed him. He would pull away and I would do my best to let him go. I was always waiting for him to come back to me. We were kids on a playground, constantly playing tug of war. We teeter-tottered up and down and up. He would push me down in in the mud and run away.
It wasn’t perfect. There was no immediate solution. He was trying though, and it was good. We slowly started making our way back to each other.
A few weeks later, I got an email from Bri. I didn’t see it until almost two weeks after she’d sent it, fairly recently after “The Fiasco.” I had spent that time contemplating my hatred for her. Even Josh couldn’t distract me from that.
I don’t say that I hated her to be dramatic. No, I genuinely hated her. There was a lot of that going around. It was a burning fire in the pit of my stomach, I hate her fucking guts type of deal. When people warn not to use the term hate because “it’s a strong word,” they’re completely right. True hate is not to be taken lightly. It’s not the same as anger. It’s definitely not mere dislike. Hate is passionate. It’s all-consuming. It courses through you, red and hot. It ignites you. Hate is an obsession.
Let’s just say I wasn’t in the best place when I got that email.
She’d sent it within maybe a week or so after the height of that drama. After months of resentment toward me and scheming to keep her “relationship” with Josh a secret, I didn’t see how she could have felt remorseful that quickly. As I was reading, I sensed the malicious undertones and the bitterness. I didn’t buy it for a second.
She tried twisting the story and playing the victim. She blamed Josh entirely. I knew that he had greatly influenced her. I’ve never been blind to how his charm affects others. That didn’t matter. She was still responsible for the part she’d played. She had known her actions would hurt people. I didn’t want excuses or explanations.
She and I exchanged more emails, each one leaving me more furious toward her and disheartened about my relationship with Josh. It was safe to say that my first instinct was right. She sure as shit was not actually sorry. Despite my hatred, I did my best to be civil in return. I’m not stupid. Our words were being written down. They would forever be remembered in the depths of the internet. I still wasn’t very nice, though. Trying to be the better person is quite difficult when you aren’t.
That battle of the bitches ended with her saying that if we ran into each other, she would pretend she didn’t know me.
That’s exactly what she did.
*Some names have been changed. If you know what happened, you know who I’m talking about, and if you don’t, then it doesn’t matter anyway.