“Who’s there that makes you so afraid
you’re shaken to the bone?
You know I don’t understand
you deserve so much better.
So don’t tell me WHY
he’s never been good to you,
don’t tell me WHY
he’s never been there for you
and I’ll tell you WHY
has never been good enough…
I’ll show you why
you’re so much better than good enough.”
– S. McLachlan
I remember at one point last winter, sitting silently, feeling like I had betrayed myself. Feeling that I’d traded away my dignity simply because a man had been kind to me. I felt pathetic that I’d been so willing to offer him everything I could because he’d sent me flowers at work and he called me every day. No man had ever paid so much attention to me before and I went to him openly like a child. I felt betrayed by the lack of tenderness in my past, was I really so starved for affection. I didn’t believe that I was so willing to trade away so much for so little.
In the wee hours of New Years I wrote “I hate that he keeps stripping away my defenses making me naked, vulnerable to the world, to him, yet he won’t trust me, he won’t offer me the same thing. I want to let out my frustrations but I can’t do that and risk hurting him.”
He was trying to deal with loss and grief; I was one of the distractions. His financee died in a car accident less than six months before. “The dead girl”, that’s what I called her, was always there between us; she came to bed with us, she was on our dates, hovering over our every conversation.
“There is a panic in my chest and the rest of me is numb nothing will move, my heart just hammers away. The more time I spend with him the more shut out I feel. The less connected, the less welcomed. And I can’t do anything, because anything would be too much…It’s just so incredibly hard to be held so close and yet so firmly far away…there are so many questions I want to ask and won’t find answers for. I don’t know how I could’ve chosen a more complicated situation or a more impossible one.”
Shortly thereafter we quit seeing one another. I quietly packed everything away, all these feelings of guilt that I’d let him down and shame that I’d offered up my self and my body to be used for a cheap return. I still can’t figure out which I felt more. I told myself that I couldn’t expect to heal the world, I wish I’d tried to heal myself. It wasn’t wrong for me to try to love away his grief, it isn’t the end of the world that I didn’t succeed. The problem was that I shut all the feelings up and refused to talk about any of it, I wouldn’t even say his name. I’ve just been quietly terrified that someone else would come along and I’d be hurt yet again.
It was difficult for me to understand that he didn’t send flowers to me or call me because he thought I was special. He did it because he wanted to do it for someone and that someone was dead, so he did it for me. There’s that vow that says love, honor and cherish. I’ve never felt like someone cherished me. Understanding the real meaning of that word takes a great deal of effort. I believe there’s an honorable man out there somewhere who does understand it and is looking for someone to cherish. I want to be the apple of that man’s eye.
Written New Years & Spring 1999