More than a Crush

During the discernment retreat, these feelings for the guy I liked were not just for someone I barely knew or a little surface crush, one of hundreds of little crushes you have in your lifetime. He was a friend. My older brother’s friend, actually. We’ll call him Shawn. Shawn was 2 years older than me and I met him back in high school, when my brother brought home his college friend to stay with us for a week over Christmas break. Now, my brother went to school in Ohio and I lived in California, which meant Shawn was from nowhere close to where I lived. Little did I know that little week during my junior year in high school would have drastic effects on my life. Shawn and my entire family (I’m one of 6 kids) all hung out, talked an laughed for hours and had a great time. He went home half way across the country and we exchanged numbers to keep in contact. We continued to text each other daily after he left and I began to realize I had feelings for him. I had no clue if I would ever see him again.

The Surprise

The next year my brother Jake as well as Shawn decided not to return to Franciscan University for their sophomore year. I guess it wasn’t meant to be. Senior year rolled around and I decided Franciscan University was the best option for me, the same school Jake and Shawn had attended. I was excited for this new journey. Sure enough one day I got a text from Shawn and he said he would be returning to Franciscan the coming year! I was on cloud nine! I still liked this guy and we had stayed in contact with each other, although less often. There was hope! Of all things that could happen and with my missing him, I would be at the exact same school as him!

Sure enough my freshman year came along and he was one of the only people I knew. We were reunited after not seeing each other for a year and a half, but became friends just as before and things were looking good. We decided to grab a meal together to catch up and he said, “Jamie, we should make this a weekly thing.” Well, I couldn’t argue with that! That was better than I could even hope for. Sure enough, that entire semester we met weekly around 8 pm at the school cafeteria’s late night for whatever food they happened to be serving but really to play Bananagrams®, a favorite game of both of ours. Our competitive and wordy personalities came out in this fast-paced Scrabble®-like game. We laughed and enjoyed each other’s company. Nothing moved into a romantic relationship and I was fine with that, being that it was my freshman year, I was trying to learn the ropes, and I had never been in a relationship and didn’t have a need to rush into one. I also was not the type of girl to make the first move; he would have to do that if he was interested. Week by week went by and we were opening up more and developing a closer relationship. He would share some of his struggles he was going through at that time and I would do what I could to help. It was nice we could always fall back on the fun, game-playing though, and make it light-hearted again.

My Realization and Surprise #2

One day I was walking down the sidewalk at school outside our cafeteria and I realized something. I didn’t just like him anymore. It had grown to something more. It was the end of the semester, we had caught up weekly all semester, and I realized that I was in love with this guy.

But when I was with him at late night he had some big news for me, which was very unexpected. He waited and said, “Jamie, I won’t be coming back next semester.” Because of finances he just couldn’t do it. That one hurt. I told myself it would be fine. He left me once before and it didn’t mean we would stop being friends. It wasn’t the end of the world, but I knew I loved him. You’re probably thinking, “Well, did you tell him how you feel?” The saps are probably thinking that I told him, he felt the same way, and that he stayed at Franciscan, we started dating, and it was the cutest story. Well, not to burst your bubble, but that’s not what happened.

He moved back home, far from school. I would text him but he wouldn’t typically initiate the texts. One day he texted me and brought a lot of healing and growth to something I was going through. God was not done with him yet. While communication continued to drift, my emotions built up inside me. I remember back at school people noticed something was wrong and would ask me if I was okay and I would brush it off like it was nothing. I was not one to talk about my feelings or talk about the guys I liked. Really I just missed him. A lot. I wanted him back. It was like I had just gotten dumped. This continued on. Here is something I wrote about him a year after he left, during my sophomore year:

Cracks in the Heart

“One person. They swoop in. And change your life. What happens when they swoop right out of it? Heartbreak. Did they mean to? No, not at all. But the heart has a crack in it. It may heal, but the scar is there. The heart will love again, the same person or another, or another until it finds the one. But one thing is for sure­—the crack is still there. Forming the heart. Marking that one specific heart.
You see, we all have cracks on our heart that make us who we are. They affect the rest of our life and every relationship from then on. They affect how we trust. How we guard our heart. How we think. How we interact. How we love. One person may think they left, but they may never know the effects on another’s heart.
That crack may not be bad at all. After all, what is a stained glass window? A bunch of broken pieces. That’s a whole lot of cracks. But when you look at it—it is a beautiful site to see. That is your heart.
Every person who has broken it. Every person who has enlarged it. Those who have taught you to love. What “to love” really means. To serve. To affirm. To hug. To spend time with. To give. Every person teaches you a new way to love.
That one person swoops in and teaches you more than you could ever imagine. Whether they know it or not, they changed you.
Thank you, Lord, for this crack in my heart. My beautiful heart you have given me.”

I had become that girl who was so in love with her guy friend but was too afraid to tell him. He was gone. It was unrequited love but I held onto the idea that we would end up together eventually and that he secretly liked me…

 

© Jamie Leatherby 2017

Photo Credit: Stock Snap