The beginning of our conversation is filled with light-hearted banter and shallow topics, such as the food our stomachs are yearning for and our favorite TV show quotes. Hours pass and as the sun slowly descends, my inner darkness begins to surface. I try to hide it but my face does not keep secrets. We are sitting on my bed and you ask me what’s wrong. “I’ll be fine,” I reply, making it a point to avoid eye contact. You ask me again because you know me well enough to know when I am lying. Because you know I won’t be fine if I don’t tell anyone about the emptiness and fullness of emotions inside me.
I try to put my emotions into words, in a way that you will understand, with no avail. You look confused and there is a momentary silence. But it is a silence that speaks. The kind of silence that confirms my belief that you cannot understand me. You have always been understand-ing, but sometimes, that is not enough. My heart, my mind—they are both a mystery to you. A puzzle you wish to solve, but can’t. A puzzle I wish I could solve, but can’t. Even with all the science that explains my behavior and how to deal with it, we are both dumbfounded.
The silence ceases.
You tell me your heart is breaking because of my misery.
This is not what I wanted to hear. Only because it has been said so many times.
A cycle ensues.
This is why it’s so much easier to swallow my words because when I spit them out, they spread like a disease; reminding you of your inability to help me. What I want to tell you is this: I am tired of breaking your heart with my brokenness. It is exhausting for the both of us. What I need for you to do is to be strong for me. It may be a selfish request but I cannot deal with the heaviness of the two of us when I cannot even deal with myself. What I need is practical advice or your quiet presence but not more pain. Anything but more pain.
Without you being the best kind of you, during my darkest hours, it makes it more difficult for me to be me. The best kind of me. The kind of me that could help you when you’re the one that’s hurting. You could be who you were before you decided to wear my stretched and worn-out skin. Joyful, generous, and light. There is no reason for you to act any different. No reason you should lock yourself up in my temporary, emotional prison.
I know you are trying to feel what I feel but there is a dark side of empathy. The part where you hurt yourself in the process. And even if it is just for a couple minutes, I do not wish for your heart to break because of my brokenness.