I think you love someone when their pain is your pain.
Their darted glance, the brief terror in their eyes; it strikes you right in the chest. It punctures your air supply until it stings and the sting becomes a dull ache and the dull ache grows into a burn and the thud of your heart’s response resounds in your mouth. Your eyes scan their face – their face, their beautiful face – darting over a landscape you thought you knew. You see them as if for the first time, in a long time. My darling, how you have changed! And you are hurting, did I not see the hurt before? Their terrific suffering so magnified. Immature problems that have consumed you for weeks discolor and recede. Bleached. They are insignificant to the hurt that is radiating from someone you love. The rings around their eyes are now your rings. Their bloodshot eyes your bloodshot eyes. Their furrowed brow, their consternation, mirrored in your face. Their tears, hidden or otherwise, you taste on your lips. Their distress, their utter fragility, exposing itself so clearly now, just in that inner eyebrow area. And… in how their smile fails to reach themselves. How have I smiled today? Knowing you were here like this. Blank eyes. Looking through you, past you, because they don’t have time for you now, they can’t have time for you. … You should have had time for them before. You should have had time for them before. Angry repetitions in your head. You should have had some time, just some time. You’ve been busy. You’ve been busy?! “I’ve been… busy.”
What were you doing, what were we doing that we got here? Where was I, when this happened? I remember seeing you, I remember having a good enough time. I don’t remember piecing together the obvious parts. Until now. Now, when every realization is exploding right next to my face, one after another, right around my temples. My eyes flicker with each burst semblance of a better life. Each more shocking, perplexing. And yet, no, what am I saying, not at all.
As if I am being layered with thick blankets of cotton wool. Carefully laid upon me, one after another. And I am drawing my knees to my chest and I am laying my head on my hands and I’m collapsing softly, ever so softly, into a cotton wool lasagna cocoon.
How did we get here?! My naiveté somehow remains steadfast into my adult years. I thought we were doing relatively well. Relatively I say, meaning the top of the pile of shit we had created for ourselves. Was I really so self-absorbed that I saw none of yours? I was too busy waiting for someone to save me that I didn’t see you.
I didn’t see you.
I’m sorry. I’m sorry I disappeared inside myself. For so long, it seems. I considered you to be on top of things. What a ridiculous expectation, it seems now. I had such high standards of you. Once, for myself too. … Tell me something, before I go, am I overreacting? Is this, perhaps, how it is? How every one is? Do we all end up like this, more or less? Maybe this is the daily round. Maybe the time has come to smother my childhood ideals; they were misleading. Maybe – maybe – we are not doing too badly on the spectrum of human chaos. The explosions come thick and fast and too often to not convince me that we have all hit a rather bleak trajectory.
But. No. I am too proud to let this be your story. Because you, because we, cannot not get better. We have to get better. You have to get better.
Just a phase, just a phase, just a phase. It will sort itself out. It will get better. I will get better. We will get better.
Why are we always so tired? Change is good.