You think you are going to save me. You don’t know what that means. People have sold you this image of a knight, or a prince, or at least a hero in a Purple Label suit, but it is silly. I don’t need that, and even if I wanted it, I am not so shallow as to think that a stranger could provide it for me.
I say that I love you, and maybe I do, but it will always pale in comparison to the aching, complex, ultimately rewarding love I have for myself. Over the past 20-something years, I have learned to grow comfortable with myself. There are parts of me I would change, but overall, I think that I’m a good person. I touch myself with care. I forgive myself. So many people who have claimed to love me have not afforded me the same courtesy. It’s not that I’m skeptical, it’s just that I’d rather depend on myself when it comes to affirming that I am a good person.
You are nice, but I don’t need your compliments.
If you insist on being kind, on loving, on putting your hand where you think it will give me the most pleasure, do it because you want to. Do it because seeing me happy makes you happy, and in a way makes you love yourself even more. Don’t think you are giving me something, because you are not.
I am standing in the bathroom, brushing my hair, completely naked. You walk up behind me and tell me that I look good like that, that I should go naked more often, that the light is particularly flattering on my back side. I suddenly feel just slightly less happy about being naked, now that I know it is being shared with someone else. Before, I was having a moment with my body. Now, I am a spectacle for someone else’s enjoyment.
You mean well, and I know that. You love me, I can see it. But maybe I love myself too much for someone else to join the relationship.
“Self-absorbed.” “Narcissistic.” “Vain.”
To that I say, “Defiant.” “Protective.” “Alive.”
There is no part of my body that I don’t love touching, that I don’t want to see more of. I can feel this way about other people — yes, even you, though I know you doubt it when I am laughing at a text message and you don’t know who I’m talking to — but it is never as strong. It is never as pure. It never comes from a place of pure care and nurturing. When I love myself, it is licking my wounds and reminding myself that every schoolyard insult or cheating lover was a bump in a road I was never meant to drive with a passenger.
You look at me when I’m reading my book in bed and you tell me that I’m cold, that you can feel my distance, that you freeze around me. But I am burning, so hot that I can sometimes barely stand to be within myself, you simply can’t feel it because I radiate inward. I can see you pull your blankets around tighter, and all I can do is sweat against my sheets.
You tell me that maybe one day I won’t need to hold myself so tightly, keep all of this love inside, be afraid of every leak and crack in my system. And maybe that’s true, and I will want to share as much as I possibly can with you. But I am not counting on it. I don’t believe it will happen, and it hasn’t yet. I would love to see you prove me wrong, but for now, I’m not waiting on anything. There is too much in me to care for, and I have only just begun to stop the bleeding.