Let’s get one thing straight: this is not an attack.
Not on anyone or anything; not even on myself.
This is just who I am.
I don’t know how to do this any other way—how to express myself in a more efficient manner than trying to soothe my heart as she stumbles and bleeds without knowing why.
She’s never had such demands placed on her before. She’s never been forced open in a way that made her so vulnerable, so close to the throes of perceived danger, so ready and willing to fall into everything my mind has begged her to avoid.
And now, my mind sends piercing whispers to her in this moment of bewilderment: I told you so.
There’s a reason she prefers to be secluded, tucked away in the noisy confines of her outward silence—alone. She’s understood from the start that beyond the flesh and bones that surround her, it’s a cold world out there. She needs to be protected, concealed and unreachable. She knows she’d never make it outside of her cage; she is far too raw to save herself from the pain that comes with opening, emerging as a thing to be fooled for love and tossed when her temporary purpose has been depleted.
She can’t stand being temporary, but she’s never known permanence either. She just can’t handle feeling that she matters one moment, only to be named useless the next.
She can’t be so stripped, so out of control.
This heart, she’s been muffled for a lifetime; somewhere between where she rests and where words pour from my lips, a debilitating cloud of fear and self-consciousness suppresses the truth she longs to release. Every time. Yeah, it’s fine. It happens, you know? Whatever.
But really, it’s not fine. It’s not whatever.
Because hearts hurt sometimes, and it’s okay to admit that. It must be.
Because all she wants to do is cry out the words and let them fall as they may, in scattered puddles or in an ocean of all the things she never wanted to feel.
Perhaps there was never any intention of loving her—of loving me. This person. This heart. The one that fought her own personal battle just to open up despite the wisdom of her senses warning her to remain tightly sealed.
And for what? All for this something that became nothing before she could even define it as such.
She should have known better. She should have listened.
So now she sits here, somewhat defeated and worn, tormented by a situation she can’t quite comprehend, yet aware of every pulse that leaves her. She begins drawing conclusions about everything she did wrong—everything she’s ever done wrong—and she hears herself whisper the words “I’m sorry,” even though she doesn’t know why. She must have made herself this way, this incompatible puzzle of the words she never said and the ones she said but never meant.
She questions her ability to be understood, to be accepted, to be loved. To be anything—everything.
And because she won’t let anyone else around, the only person she can blame is me.
Still, this is not an attack.
No; this is the soothing. This is the beginning-again of what once sought an end, a rude awakening in the silence of a long-held breath. This is the part when I must take up mending what was never fully broken; I couldn’t keep the cage doors splayed long enough to let that happen. Maybe someday I will, and it will hurt that much more.
Or maybe someday I will, and the exchange will be different. Maybe someday, my heart will be the victor, sending gentle whispers to my mind in a moment of relief: I told you so.
This is just who I am—growing, hoping, trying, learning how to love.
This is my heart reaching out and closing up again, trying to know what it means to be loved, and learning what it means not to be.
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
~ C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Alyssa Miller