This period of being alone with my daughter has been remarkably enjoyable. I didn’t feel lonely. I devoted all of my time and energy to my daughter, my extended family and my mental health. I made my own plans for how our future would pan out, and whenever I felt insecure I reminded myself how much I have already overcome – and treated myself to a hot bath and a glass of wine.
And then it happened: over a year after everything, a casual text from an old friend. You know those “friends of friends” who you love to see, but go six months without talking to because they aren’t really your friend? One of those. I had known him around three years at this point, and almost stomped out the schoolgirl-worthy crush I’d had on him. Almost.
“Hi, how are you?” the text read, in a friendly tone. I assumed this might be a preface to him giving our mutual friend a lift to my house. I replied, and we made small talk. Then, out of the blue, he asked if I would like to watch a film – perhaps that Friday? Everything inside me dropped; I wanted to, very much, but I knew there was no chance of me leaving my daughter with anyone. He had it covered, a DVD at my place after bedtime, complete with fruit snacks (for the strange girl who doesn’t eat chocolate). The fact that he had considered and understood that I wouldn’t be able to go out for the evening blew me away – most of my friends understood, but didn’t go to such lengths to come see me.
We chatted for over an hour before we put the film on, catching up on what had been going on in each other’s lives. We didn’t finish the film either, through giggle fits and stopping to discuss things. Before we knew it midnight was upon us, and it was time to say goodnight.
Of course, my crush had resurfaced. It took me over an hour after he left to fall asleep; too full of questions and conflicting thoughts and that strange, electric energy that seems to occupy our stomachs when we try to deny liking someone. I told myself it didn’t matter; liking someone was no crime, and knowing my luck I wouldn’t see him for another six months anyway. More than anything else, he had witnessed my life derail over a year ago, and seen the state of me as I tried to put it all back together. He was the first on-scene when I had sobbed down the phone to my best friend, clutching the huge chunk of my hair that had spontaneously fallen out. Surely, after all of that, he could never like me back anyway. Right…?