There are feelings in this world; specific sensations we experience that make our entire body enveloped in goose-bumps; and not the good ones from music or poetry. The bad kind like when you touch a texture that sets your senses in a spiral or hear a noise that just feels like the audible version of No Thank You.
For me it’s the equivalent of the shoulder tensing, gut wrenching moment of hearing forks and knives scraping against ceramic plates. Other people would equate it with the sound of a microphone hitting feedback moment, or the sound of Styrofoam rubbing against itself. It’s cringe-worthy and terrible; forcing you to grit your teeth and internally shudder.
Different things trigger those feelings, those bad tingles for everyone. Maybe it’s the idea of wearing wet socks, or accidentally biting down on some shell from an egg. Maybe it’s hearing someone attempt to make an off color joke but it doesn’t land.
For me it’s his arm across my shoulders, pulling me closer to his body at 2 AM.
My muscles tense, I grit my teeth, and I internally squirm.
But then his grip tightens, his toes graze the back of my calf, and I wish I liked it but I just don’t. I can’t focus on the affection because my skin is trying to pull away from my muscles. I’m stuck back in the classroom in fifth grade with Alex S. sitting behind me with his pencil that won’t stop squeaking and my body can’t handle the sound. Except instead of the sound being a number 2 pencil that is in desperate need of sharpening, the sound is this person’s breath hitting the back of my neck as he sleeps, and I stare at the wall uncomfortably.
I’ve heard a billion reasons for “why I’m like this.” I have intimacy issues, I’m afraid of liking people. My heart was broken and never really healed. I’m afraid of commitment and allowing them to see me in a state that could be considered vulnerable would be teetering on the line that separates casual from DTR. Or maybe I just hate cuddling because I’m “quirky” and “not like other girls.”
Or maybe, when we’re really being honest, it’s all of the above.
I don’t want to struggle to sleep with another person in my home because it’s uncomfortable and forced and I shouldn’t have to because that is how I feel. We have our own beds and our own pillows to drool on after we’re in the middle of a REM cycle. We don’t need to sleep with interlaced fingers and wake up to morning breath and hair that’s matted and tangled. I can do that without you, without him.
I don’t want to actually sleep with someone else because I don’t want them to see me like that. I’m not the version of myself I’ve presented prior to getting actually, physically naked. I have no makeup, no contacts, no styled-to-look-just-messy-enough hair when I’m in my old t-shirts and glasses. My armor is gone and I am exposed. The thought of having to admit that I am not something I’ve spent so much time perfecting and presenting is just too much so I’d rather be by myself than face it.
I don’t want to sleep with him and watch him drift off because that’s forcing myself to actually get to know them as a person and not a body. I don’t want to talk about our families or our dreams or why we were in that bar alone.
So no, I’m not just exaggerating and I’m not kidding when I ask how he’s getting home. I’m not trying to be a bitch and I’m not doing it in some reverse psychological way to say, “Actually please stay.”
His nails don’t feel light and caressing, they feel like nails on a chalkboard. His hand holding mine doesn’t feel tender, it feels like a chokehold. His breath is not warm and inviting, it’s suffocating me. He may be sleeping but I am counting down the hours until the sun comes up and he leaves.
Please don’t spend the night, because I’m not ready to not sleep at all. And please don’t spend the night, because I never want you to see this side of me.