We laid in bed that night, side by side, me reviewing a shipping manifest, her getting up to speed on the latest celebrity gossip. She was very distracting, her curves in my peripheral vision threatening to further disrupt my focus. I had re-read the same paragraph on my document several times, and I realized I still hadn’t absorbed the meaning of any of the words. My mind wandered. To dark places.
Often when I turned inwards, I didn’t share. My inner turmoil, my baggage, was really not fit for anyone else to hear. Sometimes I had frightened myself with the lengths of my own haunted visions and fantasies. That particular night, I made the conscious decision to invite her into my nightmare.
“You know,” I began selfishly, giving her but a moment to pull away from her screen and pay attention to me. “It stupifies me how frail we truly are.” I let that hang for a moment to see whether she was indeed interested in what I was thinking of sharing, or would rather go back to what she was doing. She put her screen away and turned to face me, her body distracting me yet again.
“For example, I could right now, out of the blue, open up on you with a string of profanities so foul, so harsh, so unrelenting, a barrage of hateful words, filled with venom, spite and hatred, things so utterly vile and horrid that it would reduce you to absolute tears and forever destroy this relationship.”
The look on her face became concerned, her body language showing a small build up of fear as to where this monologue might be headed.
“And yet, there is no way for me to accomplish the same in a positive vein. I could compliment your appearance, share with you how my heart races every time I look at you, confess that with every decision I am faced with on a daily basis I think of you and want to be a better man because of all that you believe me to be. I could respect your intellect, your dreams, your abilities, I could even tell you that for all my immortal life I can see myself spending it with no one but you, and that when I say the words ‘I love you’, I mean them with such a fierce passion and undying devotion that I am terrified to even utter them for fear of them not conveying enough of the fire that is within me.”
I took a deep breath.
“I could do all of these things, but they are mere words and pale to the truth behind them. And as good as they might make you feel for a fleeting moment, their effect wouldn’t last. The emotional high would pass quickly. And it saddens me terribly that is the truth of us as people. That we cannot believe the good in ourselves yet will not let go of our own insecurities and self-doubts. That our self-perception is so low that we allow the hurtful words to cripple us but do not allow the higher truths to lift us up with a lasting capacity.”
My eyes searched hers, looking for meaning, begging silently for some type of definitive rationale that would sit well with my troubled soul.
“It is the human condition.” she replied. “And you are a rare and lovely man.”
The funny part of that night, in retrospect, is that I believed her for a very long time. Until I realized I wasn’t what she said, and might never be again.