I was confident that I had cleverly hid myself away from view in that beachside cove.
I had deliberately sought out sacred silence as space to cry.
But somehow you found me.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw you send a worried glance my way. I knew when we first locked eyes at the campsite earlier that afternoon that you had a kind heart. Even from down the shoreline, I could tell from the concern in your eyes that you hated to see me in pain.
I looked away quickly and pretended I didn’t see you. I didn’t know how to let someone else see me in pain. I didn’t want to burden you.
For a while you let me be. The rise and fall of tears bubbled up in sync with the slap of the waves on the rocks. I started to get curious and wanted to see if you were still around. It felt silly to wonder because I’d never been the type who anyone waited around for, but I let my curiosity get the best of me and shot a quick glance toward where you had been.
And there you were, still, a couple hundred yards down the beach glancing out at the waves. I knew you were waiting for me based on your body language. You were a dead giveaway. I could tell you were making a calculated decision as to the best moment to get up and walk my way.
Before I knew it, I could hear your footsteps. You hesitated just for a moment and asked if you could sit down. I let you take a seat––it was my gesture of politeness toward you. We made awkward small talk about our hometowns, the beach, and our livelihoods. The questions got more detailed as we peeled back the layers of each other’s beings, slowly delving into our deepest truths. You said you loved how passion lit bright fires in my eyes when I talked about writing and yoga.
I told you about vision questing, and communing with nature. But I stopped because the politeness ingrained in my ways wanted to give you a chance to talk. I asked you a question about your current travel and I sat there waiting for your words. They never came. You kept asking me questions and diving deeper into me. You asked me what I would be if I could do anything in the world, no strings attached and I told you. You’re eyes glimmered when I spoke my soul’s truth.
Then you asked the question I didn’t want you to ask. The question that made me want to run away.
Was I okay?
I hesitated but I told you the truth because even though we’d just met, I felt like we were old friends. I told you about my own struggles with depression. I told you about how my struggles have been held silently within for quite some time because I didn’t want to burden others with my own pain. And how I was learning to ask for help when I needed it. That was hard for me to open up to you about because I’d never willingly told anyone my struggles, but you made it effortless.
I looked over at you to see if you were listening and your eyes were wet. You quickly looked away because you didn’t want me to know I made you cry.
We sat there in silence. You reached your hand over to rest on my thigh as a gesture of compassion. Right then, I knew you understood; I knew you wanted to help. I knew I hadn’t burdened you like I feared. And together we sat there. The silence felt good because a new emotional bond had been consecrated in that moment. The colors of the sky were starting to turn to the bright orange and pink hues of the setting sun. We sat there and watched the sun dip into the ocean for its midnight slumber.
That night, we sat cliffside above the ocean and watched Jupiter and Venus form a love triangle with the full moon. You reached your arm around my waist and nuzzled your head against my neck. I pulled away gently. I gave you my hand instead and you held it softly like I was precious to you. I said goodnight after this. You asked if we could go and watch the sunrise in the morning and I said, of course. Even in the dark of night I could see a concerned and disheartened look in your eyes; I knew you wondered why I pulled away from your touch.
I got up early the next morning and slipped away into the early morning fog. I wanted nothing more than for us to watch the sunrise through each other’s eyes but I didn’t want to hurt you. I was not going to be your girl. I had to learn to love myself again.
To the man who helped me speak my silence: I am sorry I walked away, but our night together was cathartic. You held space for me to speak to the silence of my emotions. And once I spoke this silence to you, I knew I was going to be okay.
Author: Caitlin Oriel
Editor: Travis May
Photo: Flickr/Jose Camara