After the Goodbye - Part 5

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(Note: I released two chapters just now. This is the second. So make sure you don't skip the one before.)

As I revealed more and more to the therapist about my history and relationship with Alex, she asked questions that revealed more and more how I felt about him

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As I revealed more and more to the therapist about my history and relationship with Alex, she asked questions that revealed more and more how I felt about him.

"And how did Alex respond to you ending your friendship?" she asked after I'd told her the story of our friendship.

"He was angry." I recalled his tear-stained face and frowned, looking down at my hands in my lap. "And I regre―... Well, I didn't regret it. I didn't regret setting Alex free. But..." I felt my chest tighten and sighed deeply. "I regretted losing my best friend. I really regretted it. I hated myself for it."

"You hated yourself for what?"

"For not being able to let go properly."

"So you felt regretful. How else did it make you feel?"

"Hm... Guilty."

I stopped and there was a moment of silence before the therapist asked, "What did you feel guilty about?"

"For not being able to love him back."

"You didn't love him?"

"No!" I said, wondering where she'd drawn that conclusion. But when I looked at her calm expression that was without confusion, I realized it probably wasn't that she thought I loved him, but she was just doing that therapist thing. "I'm straight. Sorry if that wasn't clear."

She nodded, expression still very professional. "So, you feel guilty for not being able to love him."


"What is love to you?"

"It's when―" I was going to tell her it's when someone is really important to you and no one (outside of family) matters as much as they do. But realizing that's how I felt about Alex, I paused. "I love Alex, but not in a romantic way. I've never wanted to kiss him or anything."

"I see. So that means it's not romantic," she responded in the typical question-statement way I'd learned therapists did.


"What kind of love is it, then?"

It took me a while to answer. "Brotherly," I decided. Outside of my girlfriend and family, Alex was the only person I had loved. So, it had to be familial―brotherly.


"How did you feel when you saw his social media photos and posts?"

"Happy... Happy to see that he's doing well. But sad. Sad that I can't be a part of it. That I'm not there." That I had nothing to do with it.


"If you could say anything to Alex, no holding back or minding your words, what would you say?"

Through my talking with the therapist, I realized that I missed Alex and that I loved him like family. I admired him and I wanted to reconnect with him. And I wanted to be able to say to him all the things I'd hypothetically said in the therapy session: "I'm sorry for hurting you. I love you. I need you. Can we please be friends again? I'll do anything. Anything. And I promise never to hurt you again."

I sent him a friend request and message on Facebook, extremely nervous. But weeks passed and there was no response. He had ignored me.

My therapist had encouraged me to reach out to positive people from my past, so I had already started talking to Kareem through Facebook Messenger and text. It felt good to reconnect with him. He was always a good guy―sensitive, mellow, and funny. It was sneaky, but I asked Kareem to befriend Alex so that I could see Alex's posts with privacy settings set to Friends of Friends. Seeing the things I couldn't see before made me smile even more. His humor. His hobbies. I missed him. Years ago, that gay guy on the forum had said we might be able to become friends again someday. I felt like that day was now. School was going better. The CBT was helping. The medication was helping. Alex was in a good place too, working on projects with his professors and helping start up a campus magazine. I was going to try, really try to get my friend back.

I mentioned wanting to reconnect with Alex during a phone call with my parents.

"Reconnect?" my mom asked. "In what way? To say what?"

"Uh, apologize?" It should have been obvious. "And... probably to ask to be friends again."



"Oh." She sounded weird. "Uh, okay, well, Crista and I have actually been getting along great! She started going to the Y and we've been hanging out. I missed her. I hear they're staying in London for Christmas this year. Maybe we can pay them a visit."

"So Alex will be there?"

"Yeah! But I think it's best if we visit together first. I don't think you should immediately meet him in private yet. It's been so long since you two have last spoken."

"Oh. Okay."

My dad asked, "Are you packed to come home yet?"

"Yeah, almost."

"Good. All three of us will be there to pick you up from the airport." My dad paused. "No matter how Alex responds, Liam, you have people who love you. And we'll always love you no matter what."

I thought my dad was being weird with his comment. But I was glad he and my mom were supportive.


Upon returning home, my mom handed me two notebooks.

"H-how?" I took Alex and my exchange diaries―that I could've sworn I'd thrown away―out of her hands.

"We dug them out," she said. "Maybe they'll help."

I wrapped them like presents and hid them in my desk drawer. Christmas Day―it was then, I was determined, that I would recover my relationship with Alex.

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