no "right" time

ph: Shelby Eaton

I'm in love with my best friend, and I have been for years.

It's not so much a realization as it is my total acceptance of it. I've always known I was in love with her, I just never really stopped to think about it. I couldn't, we're best friends. I wouldn't allow myself to become one of those cliché Facebook statuses I hate. You know the ones; a short story about a boy loving a girl and never telling her, watching her live her life and wishing he had the guts to tell her, all the way up until one of them is on their death bed. Of course, now I know that I always hated those because subconsciously I realized I was reading about myself.

As bad as it may sound, I've actually looked for flaws with her. Now, I'm a little bit of a pessimist (I call my self a realist, but let's be honest, it's not a huge leap from one to the other), so I'm particularly skilled at finding flaws. There is not a single thing about her I would ever consider changing in the slightest. She is literally the epitome of everything I've ever looked for in another human being. Feed the cliché.

I really realized I loved her when she started dating a guy we went to highschool with. He was the outgoing all star athlete with a chiseled jaw. Perfection. Women loved him, and men wanted to be him. I'm the type that will begin to dislike you for getting the girl I want, even if you aren't perfect. It never happened with him. Yes, I was crushed. Watching them love each other day after day was something I would typically not be able to handle in the least. This case was so unique in that I really only cared that she was happy, no matter how much it hurt me. They were going to get married and I was going to smile and clap and be truly happy for her, glad that she found her "one", even if it wasn't me. Feed the cliché.

In the meantime, I've had relationships here and there, all ending quite badly (I'm a professional at being used). She was always very supportive, "Don't worry, you're the kind of guy every girl wants to marry, you'll find her". Sure, heard that before. "No one takes the time to realize just how amazing you really are". Thanks, I'm sure that's the case. Over time I noticed how much I would subconsciously compare all these women to her. Not aesthetically, really, no one can ever match how unbelievably beautiful she is to me. They were all great for their own reasons, but they were never her. Feed the cliché.

Anyway, I suppose I'm rambling. Over the years, there have been hints back and forth that perhaps she liked me as well. It's been tough to read. At one point I was even quite convinced that she did, in fact, want to be with me. People would even point it out, how perfect we are and that we should date. All we would ever respond with was awkward giggling followed by relative silence, occasionally she'd mention she was dating the guy I mentioned before. Of course, I couldn't act while she was so happily taken, I'm just not the type. Not to mention I wouldn't know if maybe I was just reading too far into something because subconsciously that's what I wanted. Feed the cliché.

She's single now. They lived far away from each other and she couldn't handle it anymore. The perfect time for me to act, right? Not so much.

Thing is, I don't have many friends. It's not that people don't like me, it's just that everyone I knew moved away for college and we grew apart. There are four of us total, including myself. If I were to tell her how I felt and she respond in any way other than also secretly having feelings for me over the years, I would not only lose her but my friends as well. We hang out exclusively as a group. It's tough to explain, but it wouldn't be them being bad friends. I could hang out with one or the other now and then, but in general it would just tear the group asunder.

I can't keep quiet anymore, I've told a few third party people the situation. They all respond with "I could tell you love her, that's so cute, tell her". Everyone knows. I don't make it obvious, I've gone to quite some effort to make sure of that, but somehow everyone can still tell. Maybe it's the way I look at her, I don't know. If they know, she has to. If she knows, you think she'd make an effort to confirm any feelings she has. At the other end of the spectrum, maybe she has feelings and she's just as good as I feel like I am at masking it and she's just afraid she's wrong or what it would do to our group.

There's only one way to know. I'm at a loss, and I'm not sure how to handle it. I can't tell her, but I know I'll regret it if I don't tell her. As pathetic as it may sound, I've started carrying a to-do list every day; at the very top is "Tell [her name] I'm in love with her". Every day, it remains the only thing not crossed off. In the back of my mind, I take solace in knowing that if something were to happen to me, someone would find that and maybe then she would find out what I've been so aching to do.

She's currently single and, being as amazing as she is, will certainly find someone as soon as she's ready. It's not tough for her to meet people. Even if I were to tell her now, she's getting over a break up. There really is no "right" time to do it. The only way I won't be filled with regret, is if it turns out the way it would in a perfect world. The chances of that are obviously astronomically small.

If this seems forced, it's because it was. And I'm sure I've missed a lot. It's too long, probably the most clunky thing I have ever written, and I've hardly scratched the surface of the situation. I'm not even re-reading what I've just written. I just needed to let my thoughts spew out and put this somewhere, as it's been eating me alive more and more in the past weeks.

I ask myself every day why I don't tell her.
I'm just scared.

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