I can talk about myself pretty easily. I’ve definitely gotten better at it over the years—I used to hate meeting new people because I never knew what to say. My goals, my ambitions, my fears… these things were all dark, scary, and unknown. But I’ve gotten better. Now, I guess I have more certainty in my life, and therefore more to say.
But there are some things I still never talk about.
Maybe I can’t; maybe I just won’t. Either way, there are parts of me I am too scared to say out loud.
For example: I prefer not to tell people when I start to like someone.
I find it a little strange, sometimes. I rarely shy away from dialogues about emotions, and I often prefer to go in depth about my hopes and fears than to flounder in meaningless small talk.
But talking in specifics about how I feel about other people gets me flustered and uneasy. I am very careful about writing names in my notebook, even though nobody reads it but me. I guess I feel that writing it down makes it real, and I don’t always want that.
Denial has become a familiar face in my mind. But more than that, I’ve also grown very used to only approaching the outskirts of feelings. I try to only think about them in an abstract sort of sense, as though they are classmates I see every day but don’t really like to talk to. When I think about my feelings towards people, I take off my glasses and gaze ahead at the blur. But I hold myself back from seeing anything too clearly.
See, when I write about feelings, I tend to dramatize the emotions with vague, exaggerated metaphors and comparisons to nature. And I usually end up describing the emotions without mentioning any of them by name.
When I write things down, the labels are scary. Out loud, they’re the stuff of nightmares.
For a long time I couldn’t even bring myself to tell my best friends I loved them, even when they smilingly said it to me first. I told myself I was just waiting for the right person, that I didn’t want to wear out the word before he came around.
The thing is, I do love my friends. Love doesn’t have to be romantic; it can take many different forms. I know that. But even though I now say “I love you” to a number of people, I still feel a small twinge every time.
My friends would probably tell me that if I don’t feel comfortable expressing my feelings towards others, there must be some part of me that I need to come to terms with, that I need to love myself first… or some bullshit like that. These arguments sound like they should make some kind of sense, but that doesn’t mean they’re right.
Because I do love myself. Not every part, of course, but I think anyone who claims to love everything about themselves is lying, plain and simple. No one can possibly love every single thing about themselves. But I don’t depend on anyone else to define my identity.
I do love myself, even as I acknowledge that I have flaws. I can see those flaws and still love myself as a whole. And I do.
Still, talking about how I feel about other people makes me uncomfortable. I think that having never personally experienced romantic love has taken a toll on me emotionally, but even though I don’t express emotions for other people very well, I don’t think I am any less of a human being because of it. I don’t think I am any less whole.
I can’t help the churning I feel in the pit of my stomach. Maybe in time I’ll grow out of it—I hope I do. But that day doesn’t have to be today.