With You, I’m Always Warring Against Myself

woman in white off shoulder long sleeved top holding black hat
Brooke Cagle / Unsplash

I’m sitting here in the dark, 120 miles from you, back to square one – in my old bedroom where we used to Skype until 3 AM after I finished my homework, back when we hadn’t met in person yet. I remember you entering into my life during the year I struggled the most, due to ignoring my inner voice and blindly following a path that was straight for most but crooked for me.

I loved the idea of you and of running away with you without a care for worldly affairs. Taking chances and embracing the present without any fear for the future because you always said that the present is where eternity dwells. That’s where we were when you met me and saw me drowning in waves of a treacherous ocean I never wanted to swim across, and you pulled me out of the water. A serendipitous encounter. Divine intervention in the form of a man.

It was us against the world, and I loved the thrill that came with sharing my burdens with you and you lightening my load. Compared with past relationships, everything flowed effortlessly, from our sardonic jokes to weighty topics that originated from the depths of our souls, so much that we believed we were ordained to be bound together for eternity, beyond anything our minds could comprehend. In our earliest years, you were always patient, gentle, and sweet.

And you still are.

And I’m not over you. I really miss you, and it’s taking every ounce of strength and willpower within me not to send a message to you, saying I’m sorry for physically distancing myself from you for the fourth time in the past 13 months. How easy it would be to do this. To go back and try again, even after seeing the clear warning signs.

I remember driving back to my parents’ house before the holiday week, with the intention of leaving you forever to pursue my deepest desires (you know, the ones you called vain aspirations) for an unbounded life, instead of being the meek, submissive wife you wanted me to be. I just wanted to pursue excellence, sing my songs that you’ve silenced for so long, and fly as the free bird I’ve always longed to be.

You called me a bird, and we talked about the metaphysical resemblance between me and birds.

You knew I was a bird, yet you clipped my wings and kept me locked in a cage. You were distrustful of the wide open sky that was beckoning me.

Repeatedly, I would flap my arms, pretending to be a cute bird whenever we cuddled before falling asleep every night, and you’d always say, “She’s flapping her wings, gotta hold her down, so she doesn’t fly away.”

Deep in my gut, I felt my insides twist, but at the same time, I’d just laugh it off and think it’s just so adorable how you wanted to keep me in your arms and never let me go. Which actually means never allowing me to soar beyond the confines of four white walls and a cage that felt comfortable, but honestly stifling and disheartening to me.

You never respected my prudent view of the future. I was the cautious one, in a neurotic and pessimistic way, I have to admit, but you were the one who focused solely on the present, much to my own detriment. I kept telling you it’s unwise to be ill-prepared for the future, yet somehow you dismissed it as a lack of faith. As if I’m the one who’s always foolish and illogical for planning ahead and striving to improve myself.

We clashed over this so many times, to the point where I threatened to leave. But our fights only lasted for a day, and I’d come running to you like you’re some kind of priest – confessing every sin that involved focusing too much on the future and my own dreams, then showing repentance afterwards. If only I admitted that I was in the wrong and you were in the right. Only then, would you take me back into your arms and hold me again and whisper your sweet nothings that made me feel safe and protected.

But now, it’s different. I’ve grown weary of secrecy and my double life, only having a few hours to myself when you weren’t looking over my shoulder or asking what I’m up to. I’ve grown dissatisfied with the same old routine, of me stagnating, procrastinating on what I know I should be doing, and never sharing my honest thoughts with you out of fear. Never evolving, never recreating myself, never reaching for more than what I have.

You said that fear is a good thing. Fear is reverence. And reverence is my duty as a wife. You could do whatever you wanted and dictate how I should spend my time and give up on my dreams, but I had to do everything “the right way” at all times or else I’m disobedient.

And I wish I could let you go.

I’m weeping inside. From thinking of the memories of the past four years, how much understanding you’ve shown to this broken soul, yet in spite of that, you set some strict standards for me that were non-negotiable. I had to choose between myself and you. I had to burn my life away and become a hollow shell that only you could fill. I didn’t, so you called me the rebellious one, the perverse one, the one to blame for disunity.

But why do I find it so hard to let go? Why do I keep thinking of you now, even after all the trauma and emotional paralysis I’ve been through for much of my early twenties, the years when I should have been focusing more on establishing a career I love and building myself with my own two hands and the spirit I possess within?

You gave me ultimatums that made me war against myself. I feel like I’ve been living a double life and thinking double-minded thoughts that were irreconcilable. I’m exhausted. I’m worn beyond belief. I’m dying a thousand deaths, and all I get is a cold shoulder. Yet still, I can’t control the urge to send you a quick message, saying I’m sorry and how much I’m hoping that this tiresome cycle won’t repeat again (but it inevitably will, unless I restrain myself now).

And this is why I put 120 miles between us. Just to find some breathing space to build myself back together again. To fix the wings of this broken bird, this beautifully rare creature that deserves to fly, sing with absolute clarity and vigor, and never let anyone hold her down.

120 miles will have to do for now.

But deep in my heart, the distance is infinite. TC mark

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