“You have to let people see the truth of who you are”, she said.
I had no doubt that her intentions were sincere, that she was trying to get me to share more of myself, more of my work and to come out of the shell I’d grown comfortable in.
I also felt that she was somewhat attracted, that she was holding back by her own standards and not divulging her interests or motives for conversation. Why on earth would she extend such kindness, such interest in me or my words? Maybe she was thinking out aloud? Maybe I’m looking too far into her words, but she continued.
“You can’t hold back if you want people to find you, you know, if you want to commit to someone whole heartedly you have to show them who you are, how else will they commit to you and share themselves with you as well?”
She strangely intertwined the idea of commitment to a person within the idea of the collective she seemed to be generally referring to earlier in the conversation.
Only in a perfect world I thought. Perhaps if people were not so mean and would not squash your heart as soon as they had full access to it, not unlike many things losing their lustre once the hardship of having to attain them is overcome.
But my mind kept going back to the question; why was she so interested in me, or my writing? Maybe my words were an easier entry point into a conversation she was holding back from, but before I could articulate a reasonable reply, it happened, like a flood on a page, the same semi-conscious expulsions that propel me to write saw me blurt it right out into the plain of thick air.
“It feels”, I paused, “so invasive though….like a devaluation of sorts. Tell me I’m wrong. Do you really feel you can share that part of you? That crevice so deep and dark that you risk someone else holding it in their hands and having the ability to toss it at will? I think it’s a protective mechanism of sorts, for me anyway. ”
“Yeah, if I keep that part subdued, to myself, I can control it. If I share it, I have no control.”
“The urge to hurt someone for hurting me. I couldn’t take that. Sharing something only for them to use it against me.
I might even kill someone for abusing it. The hurt would be too much. I couldn’t contain myself knowing I share a part of me so deep, because I get urged or forced into the idea that I have to be open with a partner, that I have to share everything with a partner only for it to later be used as a method to hurt me, look down on me or whatever. It would for once, perhaps show me the other side of a person who’s lost control and killed another person. Perhaps they’re just people who could not handle their vulnerabilities being known and then discarded. I don’t think I could handle the hurt, I dunno, I’d much rather keep shit to myself. Even this I feel….”
I stopped and realised what I had just said. I could see her eyes turn cold – oh no, she thought I was a monster – and then warm again. Then she surprised me, they welled up as she then looked into her lap and placed one palm over other as if to say she was ready to catch a stream of her tears.
“That’s really quite sad”.
I felt my throat swell and fill with regret.
But she smiled and continued, “and beautiful at the same time”. The tears were now just falling directly onto her jeans as if to say there was no use hiding her own vulnerabilities and the moment was urging her to unshackle her inhibitions, to share more of what she really felt.
I thought about what I just said as the silence tempered the mood into an agreed introspective freeze.
Was I really that fragile, that afraid? Unable to share the truth of myself with anyone because I was repulsed by it all or was it because I was apprehensive of rejection? Am I crazy for thinking it was unacceptable for someone to squash you at will, after you’ve slowly desensitised yourself into sharing a part of you? I rationalised that it wasn’t. That people who did that with disregard deserved to be hurt back.
Could I kill someone over that? I could. I remembered the rage I felt when I was bullied when I was younger and my work I had been struggling with for a week, destroyed by a kid who thought it was cool. I was only twelve years old. Work I had spent hours on, deeply engrossed in, only for him to think it was funny and cool to destroy it. I still remember the coolness of the steel chair legs in my clenched blue fists as I picked many up, one after the other and hurled them with everything I had, directly at his head with no consideration for his life.
At twelve, I was quite comfortable in knowing he could be seriously hurt or die, because what I lost meant that much to me.
I could kill if someone discarded something that meant that much to me.
No, I thought, grand as the the fairytale of believing perhaps that someone could hold your heart in their hands and protect it, the temptation to discard it, the ease of discarding it for their own comfort would probably overwhelm them and they’d ditch your vulnerabilities at the earliest convenience to make themselves comfortable.
I’d much rather not hurt anyone, so I won’t allow them to hurt me by giving too much of myself.
Beautiful as her tears were, they suddenly became bound by a used by date. How I wanted to give her access, how I wished she could hold that part of me forever, safely, but I couldn’t believe it and back into my cocoon I went, and it felt as if the physical space between us grew hands that pushed us away from each other and back into everyday niceties.
Her face was kind enough for me to believe her, but not hard enough to accept the reality of how dark some of us are.
Better for her that she live in a world where she didn’t have to see that part of human capability, the compulsion to meter out justice.
People cannot walk around thinking it’s acceptable to hurt others without knowing there is a consequence.