I think I say, “Thank you,” just above a whisper. But I’m not sure I’ve spoken at all.
In that moment, it hits me. I think our relationship has to be perfect. I think I have to know how it’s going to end so I can continue along this path. It’s my way of protecting myself from humiliation… the humiliation of being gullible – my trigger version of “I’ll be damned if I’m gonna be vulnerable”; which really just means weak.
I need to say this out loud to him – not all of it, but the important part. I need to confess my improbable expectations right now to him. I begin to let go of feeling unsafe, of feeling threatened.
But I guess I took too long. To think. I saw his softness leave right as I begin to speak. His eyes turn furious and his words begin lunging toward me.
They are harsh.
I don’t feel anything at first. I feel fine. I think I will be fine. Then it comes.
The piercing in my stomach. Like a dull but very large knife is trying to pierce my gut. And then it does, pierce. But not in a slicing kind of way that isn’t felt until the flesh falls open. More like a great heavy piece of piercing steel coming through, wide at its tip end. So wide in fact, my gut is being wrenched and pushed in by the force of it. Being pushed and shoved toward my back almost as if it will exit my body. But it stops. Just before it goes that far. In excruciating pain.
I feel sick. His eyes are dull now. Not full of fury anymore, but not soft either. His body is still but no longer rigid. Not soft either. It is a less ominous image, but I am still overcast with doubt. I take it in even though I want to escape.
Instead I begin talking.
“I don’t want you to go.”
This startles him and I realize it’s startled me too. It just jumped from me. I’m not even sure what it means or where it fits in. It’s hanging there.
My panic startles me again. I’m now wondering where I will go from here. Speak the truth, I say in my head.
“I want to end this confusion and get to the truth. (pause)
I’m hurt. I don’t trust you. Not…”
I fear he’ll think I’m attacking him, so I fumble to find new words to explain. I hate explaining but I’m afraid.
“Not because you’ve done something horrible to me. But because you don’t really hear me.”
Tell him the way it makes you feel, I hear myself say to me.
“it makes me feel lonely that you don’t listen to me, or hear what I’m saying. It makes me feel sad that we can’t find a space to communicate in. To communicate clearly.”
I want to blurt out more, but I’m keenly aware that that will not lead to better. But to worse. I try to remember that I don’t need his approval, that I’m not less than him, that I have a say in how I want to be treated, that I don’t have to make him hurt because I do. A lot runs through my mind. I want to breathe, but I’m not sure I remember that either.
“I struggle with finding a way to make it all work so that I know where you stand and you know where I stand. I feel lousy when we don’t see each other. And I feel sick when you feel so misunderstood that you come after me like this.”
His eyes go hard for a moment, but then they ease up and he looks down. I have no idea what this means – what is happening in his mind.
We’ve never been here before. This is new.
(To be cont’d)
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