Everybody is the way they are for a reason.
If I sit beside you on the grass, nervous and quiet, it is not because I am a nervous and quiet person; there is a simple explanation.
I could go back to the beginning and explain it all, but it would be a long one (as our life’s stories usually are). And I’m not sure you’re ready to hear it all, yet. I’m not sure I even know where to begin. You’re leaning on your side, black jeans, a dark blue sweater. I’m sitting cross-legged, picking at a piece of weed out of the dirt and playing with it between my fingers.
“I’m sorry,” I say. “I’m not normally like this.”
You look at me with your blue eyes behind a pair of glasses, eyes that I’ve come to know as familiar over the last few months, and you say, “What do you mean? You’re acting totally fine.”
“I know I’m being quieter than normal. I just feel off, is all.”
“Off” has always been my cover-up word for depressed or unhappy. Because it’s easier to say that than, I don’t like the way I look right now. I wish I could be anyone else but me. I don’t know if I want to be here. But people don’t talk about these things, at least not when you’re still getting to know one another. We tiptoe on the surface of the water, testing the temperature first, the depths. We wait until our skin feels safe enough to go a little bit further. Until we know that, below, there’s nothing to be afraid of.
You tell me that it’s okay to not be okay. That, in a relationship, we’re not going to be “on” all of the time.
I want to lean over and kiss you. I want to tell you how much what you’ve just said means to me. Something so simple, and yet, I hadn’t ever felt this supported. I think about my past relationships, about how I reacted in them and the ways in which I pushed my previous partners away.
I didn’t know then how to express myself, how to make sense of all this emotion, but this time, I’m trying to do it different.
On the days I might act immature, or withdrawn, or overly sensitive, know that I’m working through it. I want you to know that something may have triggered me, and really—it’s not you.
It might have been something you did or said but like Mark Groves says, “If it’s historical, it’s hysterical,” and so I need to take responsibility for it.
On the days I want to cry because I feel alone, I want you to remember that I am in a foreign country. That my family is miles away and yes, sometimes I miss them. But I want you to know that I’ve also made lots of my own friends. And over the last few months, I have worked hard to enjoy my own company. Sometimes, it might just take me a minute to remember it.
These moments are an opportunity for me to go within. And if I tell you about it, I just want you to support me through it—not to feel like I am trying to ask you to fill it.
I want you to know that my initial reaction might be out of proportion, and for that, I am sorry. But I’m learning now to text my friends first, reach out to my life coach, or write about it. I know that this is all for me to process, and I want you to know that I really am trying to work on myself so I’m less explosive.
I want you to know that even on the days I feel sh*tty, I will still be there for you. Support and hold you in your own darkness.
We are not perfect, and I’m trying to remind myself that every opportunity is one for learning. I hope that you will walk with me through this.
I pop off the head of the weed and twist the stem into a knot. The sun has gone down, and the evening glow has suddenly made this moment feel romantic.
So, if I sit beside you, quiet, holding something back, and not quite sure what to say—when inside my head there are a million things I could and would talk about—there is a reason. And maybe, one day, I will tell you all about it.
Because there’s something about you that makes me want to go below the surface.