Your hand reached into my chest long before I noticed your grip on my heart. I’ve been hurt so many times before; I never wanted to trust you. Yet, somehow, that beautiful smile and those honest eyes made me believe. When I told you my darkest secrets, you held me close and whispered in my ear that the worst was over and that I would be okay. And I believed you. When I finally gathered my courage and told you that I love you, you said it back, then kissed me and told me you’d been waiting for me to say it. You never gave me any reason to doubt you, yet the back of my mind always prickled with a sense of caution in regards to her. One cold January day, my intuition lead me to a place I didn’t want to go. It was then that I noticed how your fingers had encased my heart, how the very essence of you was coursing through my veins. I cannot unsee what I have seen. I do not know if you will pull when called out; if you will rip my heart out like so many have before. Scar tissue does feel pain, you know. But unlike the others, you have become a part of me. Though you may move on, I will never truly be able to be rid of you. Every time I feel throbbing in the empty hole where my heart once was, I will think of you. Every time you cross my mind, I will weep as only one who has lost a love like ours can. One day, the pain will become nothing but a dull roar, a manageable yet chronic ache that I will be able to cope with. But you will never be gone. Your soul is forged with mine, and I will never be free of that chain.
The first time I thought I might love you, it was August. We’d driven two hours to the racetrack, only to see a “Closed due to rain” sign on the gate. I laughed when you replaced it with a sign blaming the closure on the drivers’ diarrhea. On the way home, you held my hand and sang “I’m On Fire” along with Springsteen. You dozed off, but you wouldn’t let go of my hand. Every time I looked over at you, I couldn’t help thinking that you were absolutely, breathtakingly perfect. But it was too soon, so I swallowed my words and kept my eyes on the road.
A few days later, whilst laying on my bed, you told me about growing up without a mom, how your step-mom was never very nice to you, how your relationship with your dad is good, “good but complicated.” You seemed almost ashamed of your vulnerability. Instead of meeting my eyes, you buried your face in the curve of my neck. I could feel the pain in your words, and all I wanted was to hold you, to make it okay, to take your heart in my hands and fill it up with so much love that you wouldn’t even notice its scars. I listened and stroked your hair; I told you I was sorry and that I would always be there to listen. You were so vulnerable that the words caught in my throat, so I kissed you and tried not to cry.
Weeks passed. One night, cuddled up in bed, I asked if you were sleepy. You told me you were, but asked what was on my mind. With a single deep breath for courage, I poured out all the hurt and pain and trauma from years past. I saw the sadness in your eyes – not because you didn’t want to know, but because it hurt you to know what I had been through. I buried my face in your chest and sobbed, and you didn’t flinch; You hugged me closer and told me you were proud of me for speaking up. I felt the words bubbling up, but it was late and I was scared, so I thanked you and went to sleep.
The moments started coming quicker: The night you told me that I am the only girl you have trusted not to cheat. The day at the park when you referred to us as a family. Thanksgiving Day, when my mother picked a fight and you snuck into the bathroom to tell me it would be okay. The day you found your ex’s belongings in a long-forgotten storage closet and happily threw every last one of them in the trash. The first time you scored a goal and flashed a brilliant smile up at me in the stands. The reasons started to become smaller: Your smile. The way your eyes light up at any mention of Star Wars. How you grill every waiter at every restaurant about what your vegan girlfriend can eat. The gigantic piles of kindling you cut me with no complaint. The way you – a man who doesn’t do PDA – always seem to end up with your arm around me as we walk. How you turn up the heat for me, even though you’re always too warm. The little texts you send to say you miss me when you’re gaming with the boys. Just every little thing you do and say and are. But the moment was never right, so I kept my mouth shut.
The moment I knew unequivocally that I love you was almost laughably mundane. It was a Saturday afternoon, and you were napping . I lay next to you, lost in a book, when I briefly glanced over. I can’t even explain why, but you took my breath away so completely. It was like I was seeing you for the first time, whilst feeling like I’d known you all my life. I wanted to wake you with a kiss, snuggle into the little cocoon your arms always seem to make, and whisper in your ear that I love you beyond measure. But I’m still afraid that you don’t love me back, so I turned the page and decided I’ll wait.
It was an ordinary morning, around 6am. Anxiety Girl rolled over, shut off her alarm, and closed her eyes to wait for Jedi’s ‘Good morning’ text, just like every other morning.
DING! “Good morning and such!” Jedi greeted her.
“What in the hell does that mean?” she wondered aloud. “He must be getting bored of me. He always calls me babe, or beautiful, or some sort of term of endearment, and he didn’t! I wonder what I could have done to make him stop caring for me so quickly?”
* * * * *
Upon arriving at work, Anxiety Girl received an email requiring her prescence at a training seminar. Her fellow invitees were prestigious co-workers, those who had worked years and years and climbed their way up the ladder to the upper echelon of regional management.
“There must be some mistake. I shouldn’t be invited to this seminar!” Anxiety Girl cried. “Why would they invite me? I’m nothing. I’m going to get there and have everyone laugh and wonder why I was invited because I am clearly so far beneath all these other attendees. I can’t go, I simply can’t!”
* * * * *
11am rolled around and Anxiety Girl hadn’t yet heard back from Jedi, almost five hours after texting him back. Despite knowing how hectic his career can be, Anxiety Girl was perturbed.
“He hates me!” she thought. “It can’t be that he’s busy working… no… he’s definitely ignoring me. I even asked a question to make sure he responded, and he didn’t. I remember when we used to text all day, every day. I miss that. He clearly doesn’t care as much as he used to. Should I even bother driving all the way down to see him tonight? He must still be in love with his ex. I should just give up. I’m not worthy.”
* * * * *
Anxiety Girl’s boss stopped by her desk that afternoon. “I need to see you in my office,” he said. “It’s about that seminar.”
Anxiety Girl’s mind raced. “He’s going to tell me I’m not capable enough to go. I’m a failure. He’s going to fire me because I’m not productive enough. I knew this would happen. How am I going to pay my mortgage? Or afford gas to drive Padawan to school? Looking for a job is terrifying! I’m not qualified to do anything but minimum wage labour – I just lucked out getting a decent-paying administrative job. How am I going to live on $10/hr and no benefits???”
* * * * *
That evening, Anxiety Girl took Padawan to a fundraiser/movie night at her prestigious private school. She parked her ten year old Honda Civic next to the brand new Porche SUV, and waved at a classmate’s mother, who looked away without recognition.
“I don’t know why I try being friendly,” she muttered. “Nobody likes me anyway. They know we don’t belong here. We’re not like them. We’re not people who can afford this school – we’re the poor family who scrimps and saves to send Padawan here, and they all know it. They hate me, and, by extension, hate Padawan. Poor child. It’s not her fault that her mother is such a disappointment. I’m sure that if I wasn’t such a sad-sack, broke-ass, single mom that they would be more welcoming. Why do I even bother attending these things?”
* * * * * * * * * *
This is an example of my daily existence, and, frankly, it fucking sucks. I’m tired of being sad. I’m tired of feeling unworthy. I’m tired of worrying and stressing and obsessing about everything. So I’m going to do it. I’ve got a doctor’s appointment a week from today and I am going to get some help because I am so done with living like this.
I’m terrified that it’ll be brushed off as nothing. I’m terrified that I’ll be mocked. I’m terrified that I’ll need to be medicated. But more than all that, I am terrified that I will spend the rest of my life feeling like this and will never know how to be truly happy and relaxed.
Here’s to the first step and a new beginning.
It’s reached a point where I feel the need to share the deepest, darkest, most hated part of my soul. I need to confess my sin, bare my inadequacy, and eliminate the pretense.
I’m not perfect, no matter how much he tells me I am. He knows almost everything about me: my hopes, my dreams, my fears, my quirks, my loves and hates. But every time I go to tell him this one thing, I freeze. My lips stop working. My thoughts slow down and my heart speeds up. My mouth goes dry and I find myself changing the topic of conversation to avoid telling him.
I don’t know why I’m afraid.
He’s never been anything but understanding. He’s never given me a reason to think that he wouldn’t sympathise, or would judge me, or would look at me any different. But yet, I hesitate. I’m scared to say the words. I’m terrified to feel their prescence looming in the space between us whenever we’re together. I’m ashamed to see the look in his eyes when he processes the truth, and I’m worried that he’ll start to read into the nuances of my personality and my preferences, finding causation that isn’t accurate in the slightest.
How do you tell someone you were raped without it colouring the way they view you? There’s no way to go back from that point. What has been said cannot be unsaid. And so I hesitate.
I had hoped that before we’d reached this point, I would have found a way to tell him. But I didn’t. Or maybe I didn’t take the chances that were given. Either way, the conversation is still pending and my stomach drops in fear every time I realise that I’m getting close to revealing the truth. It’s like I know that everything between us will change once the statement has been made, and I haven’t yet decided if it will be a positive experience.
I don’t doubt that he will support me. The very depths of my soul tell me that there is nothing I could say to change his feelings for me. But letting go and admitting my brokenness is a step I’m afraid to take. And so I resist, waiting for the perfect moment to drop the bomb, knowing that the longer I wait, the more I will fight the urge and keep the secret buried deep inside.
Dangling my toes over the edge has never felt so perilous.