There’s a certain allure to it. Someone who isn’t easy to pin down. You have to work to figure him out. It’s like a puzzle. And as you lay each piece down, you give away a piece of your heart in the process.
At first it seems harmless. You’re just friends, after all. You just want to understand where he’s coming from. He intrigues you, and you’re not really sure why. He’s not like other people you’ve met. He has a certain substance to him you can’t really describe. A je ne sais quoi. He’s been places. He’s seen things. He has an attitude that suggests he knows something other people don’t. You want to know what that something is. It’s like an itch you can’t help but scratch. But the more you scratch it, the more your heart starts to fall from your chest.
He’s obviously been hurt before. Badly. As the pieces come together, it becomes more and more clear. You’re really going to have to work to earn his trust, and if you make one misstep you’ll trigger old wounds that are best left alone.
You pour your heart out to him, and he thinks you’re a basket case. He doesn’t judge you for it, but it’s clear he sees you a certain way. You allow it, because maybe he’s right. Maybe you truly are crazy, and maybe he can see it where other people can’t because he’s crazy, too.
He has a funny way of showing he cares. Your character gets brought into question by someone else and he looks high and low for some small sign that they were justified in treating you the way they did. He comes to the conclusion that you made mistakes, but the punishment didn’t fit the crime. You feel he must care to go to such lengths for you, but you also wonder if maybe he did it because he was secretly questioning you too.
He backs off a bit after that, but you still talk on a regular basis. He’s going through a lot, and it doesn’t escape your attention that he still finds the time to check in on you. You half expected him to ghost you by now, but he didn’t.
You’ve been holding out for awhile now, hoping he’d come around and see that you were the real deal. In a way, it seems like he’s starting to. You give him space when you realize you’re coming on too strong. Let him set the pace. He still messages you every few days to check in. At some point, he starts telling you more about what he’s going through and your heart skips a beat. This is it. He’s starting to trust you. You’ve reached a place other people haven’t. You consider him a very good friend, someone you can talk to about anything, and you’ve been waiting for him to slowly come around and open up to you as well.
You know by now not to hold out hope for romance. He closed that door awhile back and while you’ve still been staring at it, hoping it would open back up, you’re not so sure it will. You come to feel like that’s okay. You made a friend, and that’s kind of a big deal. It took awhile to get past that first layer, but now that you’ve done that, you feel like you’re solid. You earned his trust, his loyalty, his friendship. This is a person who could have dropped you on a whim at any moment, but he didn’t.
It’s been a crazy year and he’s seen you at some of your worst moments. You’ve talked through some things with him that you would have run from in the past. He talked through them with you, too, which is just as big a deal. You’re both broken people who managed to work through your disagreements in a healthy way and became better friends for it. Surely things will come up in the future, but you’ll work through them again, as you have before. That’s what friendship is all about, and you value his friendship. You’ll take a few blows if that’s what it comes to. It’s worth it if he sticks around in the end.
At some point, life starts to become unbearable for you. You’re slipping, but you don’t want anyone to know. All the hardship you’ve been through recently has brought up past trauma that you don’t know how to deal with, and you can’t talk to anyone about it, even him.
One day, you have a misunderstanding over something silly that triggered you. You try to explain why it triggered you, but he calls your experience a joke. You try to talk it out despite being in a terrible mood because you know full well that if you don’t, you’ll become apathetic and detach from him. He calls you argumentative. He makes a point of letting you know he’s already blocked you on social media because of the way you’re acting.
The way you’re acting.
The way you’re acting.
Like you’re under attack. Because you are. From life, and now from someone you trusted and cared for, whom you held in high regard.
He gets sick of trying to work things out with you. Because you’re being argumentative. You’re playing games with him. You’re playing the victim. You’re toying with him.
You finally found his emotions. Right at the source of your very own trauma.
He tells you to go call the last guy who traumatized you, and suddenly, you stop trying to make things right. You realize what was so alluring about him. You’re able to recognize it because you’ve seen it before. You should have seen it sooner, but you didn’t, because you made the mistake of falling for him.
All the pieces fall into place. You know what trauma looks like. You saw it in the last guy, who reminded you so much of yourself. And now here you stand, face to face with it again, written in the words on your screen, which paint you out to be an abuser.
“I don’t like being toyed with.”
Nobody does. When you fail to process your own trauma, you wind up pushing it onto someone else, somewhere down the road. They’re probably not actually toying with you, but you won’t be able to tell the difference because your faith in humanity has been shattered. Experience, our greatest teacher, becomes our pitfall.
Your trauma becomes part of another person’s story.