“You fear what they will say, how they’ll look at you, once they know.”
“What Do I Feel?”
Fiction Based On Lack of The Three Words.
This journal entry is inspired by true events. Some of the characters, names, businesses, incidents, and certain locations and events have been fictionalized for dramatic purposes. Any similarity to the name, character, or history of any person is entirely coincidental and unintentional.
Trigger Warning: our program often motivates people to discuss their trauma. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, please, take a step back to address emotional flashbacks and trauma before continuing to push yourself. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 911 or the National Suicide Hotline at (1-800) 273-8255.
We’re kissing on the bed when he stops to look at me.
“What?” I ask him.
He smiles. “I just,” he stops.
I know what he’s about to say. We’ve been together for three months and he hasn’t said anything about love, but I’ve seen it pass by his eyes a couple of times. The three dreaded words. I don’t know what I’m going to say if he says them. Will he get mad if I don’t say it back? Because I’m not sure what I feel for him.
“I don’t know if you’re ready to hear what I have to say,” he says, dropping his smile.
“You can say what you want to say, but don’t expect me to answer the same way,” I warn him. By now, he knows I’m a late bloomer. I am not one to open my mouth and say everything I feel with the flick of my tongue. I take time to process and find the words to say what I want to say. He, on the other hand, likes to say exactly what he’s thinking.
We had the “where is this going?” conversation, not because I wanted to have it, but because he wanted to let me know he wanted something other than casual.
I’ve never given him details about my life. I always kept it casual and fun, because nobody really needs to know about the wreck my life is. Yet, I can see in his eyes that he cares for me. With his actions, he’s proved it. He’s been here, even when I pushed him away. He’s tried so hard to make a dent in this brick wall I have, but I just keep pasting cement on it to make it thicker. I’ve carried so much pain, torment, and resentment throughout my life that I don’t know who I am without it.
I admit that I have created a wall so high that I can’t see the other side. It has been there for so long; I don’t remember what the other side looks like. I like having my wall. It’s comfortable to know that I have my space and protection.
Some people have tried to knock it down, and it hurts every time. Because they try, but they never hang around long enough to actually see it break. So all the hits have created dents, but the more dents there are, the more cement and bricks I have to use.
“If you don’t answer, then I’m not going to say it,” he says and puts distance between us.
One of the things I love about him is that I can see everything on his face. And if I can’t see it, he’ll tell me. He’s so open about everything that it scared me at the beginning of our relationship. He used to talk to me about stuff that I consider information that should be shared after being together for at least three months, but in the first week, I already knew more than I needed to know.
Yet, I couldn’t reciprocate. Not because I didn’t trust him, but because if I told him one thing, he would have to know other things to fully understand. My life is messed up like that. All my problems interconnect and make a web.
“I’m sorry. What am I supposed to do? This isn’t easy for me. You’re the first man that has actually stayed long enough to want to break my walls, and I’m not ready yet,” I say to him.
He grabs my hands and kisses them. “Baby, I want to stay long enough for you to feel comfortable enough to let your guard down. But you have to give me something. I feel like I pour my heart out to you, and I still don’t even know a pinch of all the pain you feel.”
I don’t know what to say, so I stay quiet. I know that annoys him. What he doesn’t want is my silence, but that is all I can give him right now.
I’ve always kept my pain deep within me. Even when I feel like I’m breaking, I’ve never allowed someone to see through the cracks.
“Well, you tell me what to do. Because if you’re only going to give me your silence. I don’t know where we go from here,” he said. “What do you feel, though?” he asks me. “We’ve been at this for two months, and you still haven’t even said a simple ‘I like you’.”
“I do like you,” I say.
“What do you like about me?”
“I like how open you are, even if I’m not. I like how you say whatever comes to your mind with no care of it. I want to learn from you.”
“Do you?” he says, and looks straight into my soul. “Then practice.”
“I want to. I just don’t know how,” I confessed to him. I really don’t know how to talk to someone about the mess that is my life. I could tell him about my mother’s call this morning, and how once more she disappointed me. But then I’d have to explain the relationship I have with my mother, and that is all just too complicated. I could tell him about how I’m dreading the appointment with my therapist tomorrow, but that would entail telling him about everything I suffer from. And that is a long ass list I’m not ready to share with him just yet.
“How do you think I should start?” I ask him. My hands tremble, a sign that I’m getting out of my comfort zone, and my body knows it. I take my hands and put them under my thighs.
“Just say what comes to mind right now,” he says.
“Well, I’m kind of sad that you stopped the kiss.”
“We kiss more than we should. It makes me think that you use sex and physical touch as your armor.”
I look at his face and I see it. He’s mad and sad. What is wrong with me? I have a great guy in front of me and I can’t get myself to say something personal.
“Is it lust you feel?” he asks.
I shrug. “I don’t know. I do have a sexual desire for you, and like I said, I do like you, but it’s just that as of right now. I can’t say that I feel something deeper.”
I hate that I’m even saying these things to him. Because I know he feels more for me than I do for him. But I know I can love him. I know I can open up. I know I can be a better partner. I just need more time.
I wonder why I need more time. Is it because I’m scared that he’ll leave just like everybody? Is it because I know this is something that could last forever, and I’m not ready for that commitment? Is it because I don’t know how to love? All the love I’ve ever had, I’ve ruined it. How do I know I won’t ruin this one?
I stop my thoughts. I shouldn’t be thinking about all these things. I was once able to love. I can love again. I can learn to love this man as he loves me. I should enjoy everything this man offers.
As I look at him I think to myself, ‘God, how perfect can he be? Is this even real?’
I do like him. So, so much. When he kisses me, I burst inside, all of my insides turn into liquid. That’s how I feel with him, like liquid. Because he makes me want to flow. But there is always a clog that stops me from flowing too much. I’m infatuated with him. I really am. I mean, I smile just thinking about him. I smile whenever I get to be with him.
“You know. Even if it’s not with me, you’re never going to find something worthwhile if you keep yourself so closed off. You need to let go of all shit you think has ruined you. Because you’re not ruined. I can see such greatness in you, and I want to share that. But you don’t share,” he says. “Do you want me to leave?”
“No. I want you to stay. But I have never been able to communicate well. I like my walls. I’ve never had them fully broken,” I admit and get up to face him. “I really want to make this work. But please, just give me some more time. I’ll try. I’ll share something personal today. Something small,” I say. I grab his hand and pull him to sit back down on the bed.
“I’ll take anything you give me,” he says, finally turning to me again.
He sits and watches as I sit down. “I’ve been cheated on. My first boyfriend cheated on me, and I’m not sure what I felt for him was love, but it’s the closest thing I’ve felt to love. And it all went away the minute I found out. It brought up a lot of the insecurities I still deal with. It has nothing to do with you, but I feel fragile.”
“What insecurities? Let me know which ones so I can be careful of them.”
I shake my head, “That is my confession for today. Maybe tomorrow I’ll say another one.”
“I’ll take it. Thank you,” he says and kisses my shoulder.
“Don’t say the words, yet. I’ll say them first. When I’m ready,” I say.
He nods in agreement. “Do you think you’ll be ready?”
“I do,” I smile at him.
“Why do you think you take your time? Have I ever done something to make you feel like you couldn’t feel more for me?”
“No,” I say firmly. He shouldn’t be asking any of this. I feel like I’m letting him down. “I swear it’s not you. I just have issues that have stemmed from so many things, and I don’t feel deeply easily. Not until I know it isn’t for the long haul. It’s my way of protecting myself. But I do have feelings for you. Just not the L word yet.”
He nods. “I want to protect you.”
“You do. Up until now, you’ve protected my heart. Because even though I haven’t completely given it to you, the small part you have, is the most intact part of it.”
He smiles. “I like that. I’ll wait for you to have the confidence in me, you, and us to give me your whole heart.”
“I won’t make you wait forever. I promise,” I give him my pinky.
We intertwine pinkies, and he kisses me again. The conversation was forgotten and tossed to the side with our clothes. But I know the conversation is going to replay in my head when he falls asleep. I’m going to try to say the three words and I’m going to fail.
I haven’t said them in so long; I don’t think my brain processes them anymore.
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