In my pre-teen years, I gained a somewhat large internet following through writing Naruto fanfiction on fanfiction.net. While I always wrote stories that occurred within the original Naruto series, other writers created narratives that occurred in alternative universes, or AUs, like if the characters went to modern-day high schools or worked in modern-day bars or nightclubs. This past week, I reflected on an alternate universe in which my situationship with my former crush, AWLOB, played out differently.
Though I wrote way too many blog posts about this guy in 2019 and early 2020, I will offer this refresher: he messaged me through this blog (lol) in late 2018, we had an intense email exchange, he broke up with his boyfriend of five years, said he would take time to heal and then we would talk, and then it never worked out. At the time, I felt into him because 1) he took action to promote social justice, 2) he read good books
though little did I know that he didn’t actually like, apply any of those book’s lessons to his own life but anyway and 3) the way he wrote to me gave me toppish vibes. I felt a lot of angst about the situation in 2019 and early 2020 though now I literally do not care at all about him, thank you @ BlackPink for releasing me from this man’s heinous clutches.
I thought the other day though: what if we had met in a different timeline? What if we had met three to five years after he had broken up with his long-term boyfriend? Would he have pursued me in a more healthy and emotionally available way? Or was his initial pursuit of me only a consequence of wanting attention and affection that he wasn’t getting from his ex or himself? I remember at one point, when he said he wanted space to heal, I wrote out a list of things in an email draft that I wanted to ask him about once we reestablished contact. While I used to feel sad about the missed opportunity to talk with him, now I just laugh about it while reading novels on my couch and sipping orange juice.
Then I reflect: what if he were a different person, or at least a person who worked through his issues in a way that made more sense? When I talked about him with my therapist, she made the point about how it seems like he excelled in his work and career, yet struggled with his relationships
which honestly, I could’ve discerned myself from how he posted on reddit about whether he should break up with his ex or not, lol. Over a year after he broke up with his boyfriend, AWLOB told me that he tried to see other guys locally and that these guys led him to realize that he’s still in love with his ex. When I read that email, I literally rolled my eyes to the point where they almost escaped from their sockets and started to perform the choreography from BlackPink’s iconic song “As If It’s Your Last.” Like, I get breakups are hard and we cope how we cope, but like, you couldn’t have just engaged in some basic mindful introspection and dedicated time to your self-healing instead of pursuing men who weren’t me in such an unself-aware way? While this guy wrote the word “sorry” or “apology” in his email to me, his actions reflected a complete lack of commitment to genuine behavior change. I knew I had to release myself from ever expecting better from him.
Maybe in an alternate universe we could have worked out. When I ground myself in my current universe, though, I honor how I eventually got over this guy while never compromising on my values and morals. In some ways, this situation serves as an example that even in difficult times, I persist. Throughout 2019 and early 2020, I still practiced compassion toward my closest friends, students, clients, and other important people in my life, I still showed love toward myself by bopping along to my pop music and disclosing a lot about my internal world on the internet, and I still did my best to fuck shit up by screaming about and fighting against white supremacy, patriarchy, and amatonormativity.
I now feel that maybe one day another man of color who actually has his life together may emerge, and maybe I will develop some sort of relationship with this person. At the same time, I love myself, my closest friends, and my life overall without a man and would be completely happy never dating a man. Thank you to Caroline Knapp, Audre Lorde, and bell hooks as well as my closest friends and my grandmother for illuminating the way to self and community-love, free from amatonormative patriarchal nonsense. Thank you to myself, for always making it through tough times stronger, softer, and more spirited than ever.
Do you ever feel like your perception of past events or relationships has changed with time, and if so, how so? General reactions to this post? Also, okay lol I have to share: I actually matched with AWLOB’s ex on a dating app about a month ago. To be honest I didn’t find myself really attracted to him though he was/is cute, I literally swiped right on the chance that if we were to match, maybe I’d ask him what it was like to date AWLOB and if he was as much as an emotional mess within the relationship as he was after it. However, despite my love for interpersonal drama, when AWLOB’s ex started to ask me questions to actually get to know me, I was honest and direct and said that I knew AWLOB and thus he (AWLOB’s ex) and I might not be a good fit. Also, to end this post on a petty note, I really wasn’t that impressed with AWLOB’s ex? Like he seems like a nice guy with a great moral center but like? This was the guy who AWLOB struggled to get over to the point where he missed out on pursuing me? Mess. Anyway, until next post!
9 responses to “Alternate Universe”
Wait: there exists a cookie dough product that you can choose to cook or eat? This is up there with that stripy cheese you can get. The UK is boring! Ahem, anyway, I try personally not to roll around in what-ifs and stay in the real world, to be honest (you know I’m always honest, and this is not a criticism of what you’ve explored here). I can certainly look back on some relationships with open eyes after the event and then try not to berate myself for my foolishness at the time; I’m not sure my life would have been improved by meeting them earlier or later in my life although yes of course people can learn and change if they want to! That’s so weird that you got matched with the ex, lucky you realised!!
Omg do you not have edible cookie dough in the UK? That is news to me. Maybe that’s why the attractive guy I talked to who lived in the UK for a bit wasn’t ready/a good fit for me lol. But yes I love this notion of staying grounded in the present. While I think it may be helpful to reflect a bit on past relationships to see how we have grown and what we can learn, I feel that doing our best to live in the moment and act based on our values is important. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment. (:
I love the AU concept for thinking about our past relationships (instead of being excessively anxious). You made me want to read some drarry fics again haha.
It can seem pointless to think about all the what-ifs because you’ll never actually know, but it sounds like you’re current feelings towards AWLOB are quite healthy! Maybe he would’ve been more emotionally available later after he properly moved on from his ex -maybe he will always excel in his career and never put as much care into personal relationships, who knows?
Sometimes when I think about my ex, there’s so many what-ifs popping up in my mind and it’s exhausting to go through all the options. But you’re way of looking at in terms of an AU sounds pretty useful! I mean I could just extend the AU and pretend my grandma was still alive, so I wouldn’t need my ex’s emotional support/distraction at the time 🙂
It’s hilarious that you matched with AWLOB’s ex and ofc he’s a mediocre man HAHAHA
Awwww thank you for this comment and I appreciate your vulnerability, especially about your grandma’s passing. Yeah I feel like it can be a delicate balance of like, wanting to give yourself some space to explore the past while also not ruminating on it to the point where it starts to be painful or unkind to yourself. I feel like you’re touching on this balance throughout your comment. And yeppp I know when the match happened I was like omg……. wow this really did happen, guess I’ll share about it on my blog and let it be lol. Appreciate you taking the time to read and comment. (:
Wow… if someone asked me what Thomas wrote about this week, I would have said “uhmm…. Naruto and people giving off toppish vibes.”
Ok… before you whack me over the head with your tennis racquet. First – I had no idea you started writing at an early age, that’s incredible. Second – I love that you’re staying true to your values. I can imagine young folks reading your blog and nodding their heads as they begin to appreciate what you’re doing. Third – I love that you continue to credit your grandmother. I’ve never met her but through your blog, I really admire her.
Have a great week!
Awww thanks so much Matt for your compassionate comment! Yes I love writing about an array of things like anime and toppish vibes (though in this case the guy definitely did not come through). Appreciate you appreciating me staying true to my values and honoring my grandmother, an icon. Hope your upcoming week goes well too.
This was such an interesting post, Thomas. I really enjoyed it. That must have been fun gaining a following back in the day writing Naruto fanfiction. I remember in my high school days writing fanfiction was the popular thing to do if you were part of the nerdy crowd XD I never got into it but I enjoyed reading some fanfiction online.
It sounded like you handled AWLOB messaging you through your blog. I normally are wary talking to people who hit me up through my blog – aka slide into my blog DMs – as I see my blog as a place for my writing first and foremost. Lovely that you got to have conversations with him. Alternate universes are always fun to think about. There is usually something we will learn from being or talking with someone, even if it’s just for a short period of time. In another universe there are a whole different set of circumstances and who knows who you will end up hanging out with. Really anything is possible.
That is such a cute photo of you with the cookie dough. Cookie dough is amazing.
Haha aw yes I was a part of the nerdy crowd and I still am! Thank you for your encouraging words about AWLOB. Not sure if I appreciate that he messaged me or not though I feel like I did my best with it and I’ve learned what I can from it, and who knows what other wisdom or insight I’ll glean moving forward. I find your note about the alternate universe’s existence so riveting and how anything is possible, which elicits mixed feelings because it’s scary how that’s out of our control, while also comforting in a way that no matter what we do, the universe will keep progressing (though I think we can definitely influence our surroundings). Yay cookie dough too! Hope you are well Mabel thank you for taking the time to read and comment. (:
Yes, the universe keeps progressing no matter where we are at. Who knows if there is another alternate universe right now on the other side of the wall. Nerdy crowds are cool. Don’t forget that 😛