I haven't talked about The Dude here in several months. When I told him recently that I thought I was ready to blog about him again, he asked me two things: "why?" and "why weren't you ready before?"
I thought about those questions for a little while. I think the best answer I have is that things were so up-and-down, touch-and-go, and uncertain for so long with him, that I always felt unsettled when I blogged about it. I was trying so hard to use writing to work through our issues that I always wanted some sort of answer at the end of a post. And when I wasn't finding answers, and when things were changing so frequently from one week to the next, I guess I just failed to see the point in writing about it anymore.
But that doesn't mean things just stopped between us.
When The Dude moved away and we officially broke up, so many people had so many opinions about how I should handle things in the months that followed. Most told me that I should cut off all contact with him. And I can't really blame a lot of those people. Stuff was rocky between The Dude and I for a long time. Iraq was incredibly tough and it's an experience that changed us both. There were times that he hurt me. A lot. But for whatever reason, we both kept trying. For me, when I think something or someone is worth saving, I just keep trying.
And now that we have such an unbelievably strong friendship, I really can't imagine things being any different. We had to go through those hard times together, and we had to ignore everyone's advice, and we had to stick with our guts -- to end up where we are now.
My mom is truly my best friend in the world. But if anyone gets close to the type of friendship I have with her, it's The Dude. And in so many ways, it's a different and completely unique relationship. The greatest thing about actually finding a way to be friends with an ex, is that they know the present you more intimately than anyone on the planet. That insight is impossible to replace and really is amazing when you find a way to preserve it in a genuine friendship.
I was talking to him the other night about a new guy, asking his opinion and of course pointing out all the reasons I was worried this guy wasn't going to work out. It takes him about thirty seconds in those conversations to filter out what's really going on in my mind, what I'm afraid of and why I shouldn't be. And then he said this to me:
"I know that you're lonely and I just hate seeing you like that. You just have to open up to someone and stop worrying that they're going to hurt you."
It's when he makes those type of comments that I realize he does still love me, but also is my friend and wants the best for me. I mean, it's something a friend would say in a heartbeat, but it's also something that's so hard for an ex-boyfriend to say. I'm not even sure that I'm as good a friend to him as he is to me, but I am glad to look back a year later and know that I did the right thing by fighting to keep him in my life. For whatever reasons, our other relationship wasn't meant to work out. The friendship we have now, though, is stable. And I guess that's really why I'm comfortable talking about him here again. No more rollercoaster, no more confusing double-takes, just an authentic, solid friendship that I know will be around for a long time.
Sure, it's not the whole shebang I thought I was going to have when I first fell in love with him. But sometimes you just have to recognize the bits of good here and there in your life and hold onto them.