12/18/2013 02:15 pm ET Updated Feb 15, 2014

The Man I Never Knew

Two weeks. Two weeks were all it took to fall in and out of love. Well, he fell out -- completely. He came in like a tornado, turned everything upside down, and left nothing but wreckage behind him.

This past May, I connected with an old classmate of mine. We'll call him 'T.' T was a senior when I was a freshman, so we only walked the same hallways for one year. I remember thinking he was probably my top choice out of the other older, popular guys. But back then, he had a girlfriend, I had a boyfriend, and then he graduated. He moved down south, I moved out west. End of story. Sort of.

Many, many years later, he added me on Facebook, and on May 4 of this year, we started messaging. The next day, we really started messaging -- instant messaging -- back and forth for over an hour. He asked me questions -- specific questions -- which felt as if he was assessing if we were a match. I began asking him similar things. We were getting to know each other, and quickly getting interested. From the instant messaging came a three-hour phone call, to early morning texts the next day and every day after, more phone calls, FaceTime for hours, picture texts. It was incessant. For two weeks, we were electronically inseparable. We talked about how his job had taken him all over the world, how it was to be a father to a little girl, what it was like getting a divorce. It was exposed, it was vulnerable, it was intimate -- it felt honest. It was that feeling I'd never experienced, that I'd only heard about when married people say "you just know." I truly felt like I knew this was The Guy. I'd finally found him. I don't say this kind of stuff out loud -- ever -- for fear of being foolish. I don't typically get swept up or believe in the fairytale thing. That's for the bright-eyed, wide-eyed, blushing little blonde -- or brunette or redhead (fairy tales see no color) -- it just wasn't me. I'm a seasoned veteran -- in and out of many relationships, encounters, crushes, acquaintances, romps, you name it, I've been there. Seasoned veterans aren't wide-eyed about shit, and once something appears to merit the wide-eyes of awe and the pitter-patter of a gal's heart, I think it's probably bullshit. But he got me, got under my skin, opened me up, and I trusted. I believed. I repeat, I thought this was The Guy. I was a heart wide open. I hate that. But I was all in. And that's what made this one so special.

But one day, the texts stopped. Just. Stopped.

For the first 24 hours, I just figured he was busy. But as the day went on, I got nervous. I sent a few texts just to make sure he was ok. Nothing. I sent another. Nothing. And nothing the entire next day either. By Monday, I called, just to make sure he was alright, or that God forbid, nothing had happened to his daughter. It went to voicemail. Was he in a ditch somewhere? No. I saw one day later, that the green dot indicating "online" was next to his name. Then it was gone. And then he disabled his account. My friends and coworkers came up with a couple whoppers of what happened: CIA, crazy ex-wife, crazy girlfriend, etc... Some made me laugh, but inside, I was heartbroken. I never thought THIS guy would do that. It hurt like hell. Then to add insult to injury, I went through all the self-inflicted beatings of criticizing myself for being such an idiot and worse, for falling for someone I didn't know, for trusting someone I'd never been in a room with -- well, not since 1993. Pathetic. I should know better, right? I literally didn't know what had just happened. I was pretty foggy in my head, and would go from feeling fine and surviving and being grateful for all the wonderful friends I have, to just bawling, feeling so empty and hurt. Why? What happened? What did I do? How could I have been better? What did I say to provoke this immediate halt?

Nothing. Despite my harsh critique of myself, I hadn't done anything wrong. For the first time, in a long time, I had been myself; my honest, open, vulnerable self. And he rejected me. He left me, and didn't care enough to tell me why. And I was never ever going to know. That was the hardest thing. And what was worse, I still had feelings for him. Talk about self-loathing. What kind of girl in her right mind gives a shit about a low, heartless, coward of a man like that? This girl. And there was nothing I could do about it. I liked him, I still liked him, and what I would have given for one phone call. It never came.

I do believe we learn something from every experience, but for the life of me, I couldn't figure out what to take from this. Don't trust? What kind of horrible existence is that? Guys are awful, stay away? I'm not about to switch teams. Focus on me? 100 percent. Oh hellllll yeah. Don't date? Yep, that's what I was taking from this.T is for Trouble -- and every guy would bring nothing but. There was a guy who pursued me pretty hard after all this. I pushed him away many times. We are dear friends now -- he knows the shit I'd been through, and I know his shit. I don't think we'd have the honest, no-filter relationship we have if not for T.

Time heals all things, and so do good friends, and really good friends who pursue you and love you even if you won't sleep with him. The world is full of beautiful things, and beautiful, giving, loving people. And it doesn't behoove me or anyone around me to let the one that busted me up, muddy my view.

I fell. So what? I got screwed. So what? For the first time, I could stand on my own two feet, look myself in the face and say "That one wasn't on me." I'd had a real bad habit of second guessing everything I did prior to this situation, but this time, I said "Wait a minute. No way, this time, I was all good." And I guess that's the takeaway: knowing I was my authentic self, and even though that self was rejected, I don't feel rejected anymore. I feel confident. I can actually say out loud without feeling like an arrogant asshole: "I'm a catch. I'm a great girl, AND. I. DESERVE. BETTER." The journey it took for me to be able to say "I DESERVE" was a long one, and for some silly reason, I attached its meaning to arrogance and cockiness. It's crazy.

So with that, I say to all of you, who have loved and lost, seek solace in what is working. Take an honest look at yourself and see if there was something you could have done differently, and if not, cut yourself a damn break. Enjoy your family, your friends, your pet(s), a walk in the park, a sunrise, a sunset, the sound of the rain outside your window, a walk on the beach, a great burger, a great glass of wine, your favorite album, your favorite movie... and fall in love again. We must. It's scary, but as the Dalai Lama said "Great love and great achievements involve great risk".

And don't, for the love of God, fall in love over the Internet.