It happens both slowly and all at once. One minute you’re sitting across from each other having a normal conversation and then – you’re not. There’s a pause or a lull and everything changes. The day is average, nothing to mark it from the rest, but by the time you leave you’re walking away with a small part of you missing.
Everything in motion – spinning clockwise, like an orbit we can’t escape from. Something has shifted, just a little bit to the left. It’s always to the left; the worlds already too oriented toward the right. It’s like stepping backwards on a merry go round. You’re not quite sure if you’ve lost a second or gained one, but you’re slightly out of sync with the rest of the world.
Your eyes meet and even though it scares you and you look away – you go back for more. Eyes darting back to that place of connection and if the moment is right, which it usually is, she’s still there. Waiting. She knows you’ve been hurt; she knows that you’re scared, but more than all of that – she understands that you just need something to ground you: a touchstone of trust, a fresh start, something stable that you can lean against without falter.
Life is messy and love is even worse. We wrap ourselves in so many lies and excuses that we are starved for something real. Something that just is, without question or reason. There doesn’t have to be logic, just truth. Something solid, or stable at the very least. Balancing on the balls of your feet, you’re getting better at keeping your balance in the dizziness of it all, but balance is just surviving.
She understands that it’s going to take time, but you keep coming back for those stolen glances again and again. It’s a process. If she teaches you to trust, especially yourself, you feel like you could write all the worlds inside of you that you’ve kept locked away from harm. Gateways to places that don’t even exist until you begin. Words on pages creating something from nothing, like all the magical escapisms you’ve found tucked away in the dusty pages of books long forgotten.
You wonder about your obsession with things magical. Especially the damn dark crevices of life where hope begins and stars shine. What if we’re all really magic and it just takes the unselfish, unyielding, un-asking faith of someone else in us for that magic to manifest? It seems impossible that people could be that way, but you think that might be what’s happening now.
As people, we need each other. Not because we can’t survive alone, but because without one another we lose the meaning of it all. Existence is not enough. We should be dreaming, creating, fixing, inventing, growing – we should be more than this. We should be magic.
Every time you feel a spark of that hope, you try to get rid of it. If it’s there and it’s real, then what the hell have you been doing with your life? She lets you push, kick, scream, hide, cry, lie, love, cling, depend, defer – all of it. Even when you sit there, calmly keeping it all bottled inside, with the exception of a few stray tears.
She accepts it because it’s part of you and no matter what the world says, or even worse – what you whisper to yourself late at night – you are a whole. Each and every part is a piece of you and that means something. There’s no picking and choosing – just acceptance.
The edges might be jagged and sharp, but even they have a place. You don’t have to worry about her cutting herself because she’s not trying to put you back together. That’s your job. She’s just there to
offer a slant, a different view than your own and the one thing you haven’t ever been able to provide yourself with – no conditions.
Your eyes meet and you look away, but rather quickly you look back once more, seeking out the answers in her eyes. She doesn’t give them to you though. Somehow, you know she’s telling you that you already have them. You just need to have the faith to believe in them. She’s not here to fix you. She’s just along for the ride.
She’ll see this through because she has faith. More faith than a lifetime of people, but it doesn’t matter. Even if you never reach the end, it’s okay. It’s your own journey and that’s what you’ve been trying to focus on lately. No excuses to others. No remorse for taking this time for yourself. No worrying about what has happened or might happened. Just this.
You can already feel your own thoughts betraying the victim you were. They’re altering in a way you hadn’t thought possible any longer. You will find the end. Even if it means losing her, you’ll put yourself back together. It will hurt. It will be wonderful. It will be a mess of emotions glued and taped back together in a way that makes it possible to carry them around again, because you are enough.
Each piece of your past dipped in the glue of her belief and support. Like that stupid goopy paper mache they made you use in grade school – all stuck together and merged into one. Except this time you’re a little less disgusted and a little more willing to indulge in understanding how it works. You have to accept that it’s already too late to avoid the truth. You will never not have her with you.
Fingerprints dusted in magic, breath the life back in through your skin. It doesn’t matter that you’ve never even touched. Magic doesn’t need rules, just trust – and she’s got enough of that for both of you. It’s through her eyes that you learn things about yourself that you’ve never even considered. So much of it you felt you had figured out, but a few words from her and you spend the next week or so inspecting and gnawing on it until this new perspective fits.
It makes you want to fight for the life you so readily gave up. Always holding it at arm’s length in a sort of twisted reverence that led to nothing. You didn’t want to do the wrong thing and instead of risk, you’ve spent too much time doing nothing at all. It’s not enough. Life is magic.
If you can survive giving up, you can survive pushing forward. After all, what is the risk? You were surviving, not living. You can always fall back to that if things turn sour. While the ideas of opening yourself up to risk is scary, you’re understanding that it’s something you are strong enough to handle. It’s been so long since you’ve accepted anything pleasant or positive, but you’re remembering what It’s like to laugh again.
It’s real laughter, more than just being amused by something. You’re no longer worried about who is looking, because for a change you believe you deserve it. You’re beautiful when you’re happy and even if you’re not ready to admit it, when they look at you in wonder you understand it’s true. People who have known you for years are suddenly seeing you. Not the lies and masks you’ve stayed hidden behind all this time.
You’ve woken up to discover that this is the real wonderland. Blind to reality for so many years, you can’t help but wonder how you missed it. Curiouser and curiouser. The truth is that the world is yours for the taking and she’s right there, offering you the keys. That damn amused laughter of hers is putting it all into perspective and you just stare in both question and realization.
It’s a strange enough feeling figuring it out on your own, but watching her watching you makes you feel all sorts of strange. If it were anyone else you might allow the lies you’ve been living under make you feel something less, but with her the judgment is gone and it’s just another piece of the puzzle. Having her there with you is almost enough to make you feel worthy of pride. You are making progress and that is something to be admired, no matter how small. On your own you wouldn’t allow yourself the credit, but with her you let yourself be swayed into a slightly more open state of mind.
What if you don’t need her though- they’ve all told you that. You’re the one doing the work, figuring it out, and making the changes. Even she’s told you that it’s you making things happen. She told you to trust yourself and you’ve started to. The more you practice that, the less you depend upon her. It leaves you feeling a bit jumbled over the loss. You want to lean, but you understand that moving forward is what’s important.
They’re wrong about needing her. All of them. Somewhere in the shadows of what we don’t see, magic happened. She willed you into being. It may be your work, but without her faith- the ever constant presence- you would be lost. You were lost; that’s why it’s happening now and not then. You won’t always need her, but right now she is the guiding force in your world.
She doesn’t tether you, even though that sort of lingering attachment appeals to you. She’s shown you how to tether yourself. She helps you untangle the knots and roam free, but always connected – grounded. Something lost inside of you has stilled and it’s as simple as that. You borrow the moments of peace with her and remember them – allowing them to spill over to the rest of your life.
Your eyes seek out hers and she’s there, waiting, a smile playing at her lips, a simple encouraging nod. She sees you growing and she knows you’re close to taking a few more steps forward. She calms your fears – reminding you that you’re safe, but never pushes and you can’t take advantage of that. Her trust means too much to you for that sort of manipulation – you may test boundaries, but you would never leave yourself in a position of helplessness to keep her. Not anymore.
There’s times when it’s all too true to face and you crumble yourself back down a little bit in protest. Tripping upon some step that you could have made, but you need to work at a pace that isn’t quite so convenient for everyone else. You’re making it, just in your own way. Sometimes that means stumbling to see how much things have changed. To see if she’ll leave. To see if you can get back up. It’s all working and as much as you pretend that it annoys you, you’re finding it easier to be happy.
Happy away from the trauma, away from the darkness, away from being a victim. You’ve been all those things and more – each sliver a piece of the whole. They make you who you are and understanding the reverse allows you to comprehend what it’s like to stand here now. Those moments have given you the freedom to do things differently.
Despite all of it, she trusts you to do the right thing when it matters. Her trust means more to you than you expected. It’s unconditional and even if you’re not ready to take that step now, she’ll be there waiting. Arms metaphorically open and ready to take on the words that flow from your lips and fingertips. She understands that you’re growing up and she knows that for that to happen you need a safe place.
After all, what’s going on is more than growing. You are essentially growing up. Filling in the blanks from all those missing years. The years where you just tuned out life and stopped participating. There’s a lot of catching up to do, especially emotionally. It’s something she understands, but never plays into. Like others, she refuses to feed into that and keep you trapped. Part of standing on your own is finding a way to your feet.
There have been others who impacted you like this, but you hadn’t been ready to learn that your part in things was equally important. You wanted them to fix you and keep the connection alive all by their own efforts. You didn’t feel you were enough – hiding from responsibility, but craving affection and attention. You let yourself get lost in the shadows, hiding from the truth. This time you think you might be ready to try. She trusts you more than anyone else has and that means something.
Trust and faith overlapping into something that grows substance without form. You can cling to it and believe in it even when nothing else seems real, but it’s there for you alone – hidden from the rest of the world. She knows that you are more than you believed and not just because it’s her job. It’s who she is.
Whatever it is about you that causes people to stick around long after you’ve pushed them away is growing. She offers up that knowing smile and you just roll your eyes slowly accepting it. It’s getting easier to admit when she’s right about something good. You’re getting better at finding the places where your opinions overlap and you can admit that there’s more to you than just mistakes and moments of weakness.
In the beginning it was hard to hear any truth from her – good or bad. The good stuff you couldn’t believe and the brutal truths that hurt were voiced with a compassion that argued every doubtful things you had convinced yourself of. She made you feel like you were enough. You deserved to be happy. You deserved to feel love. Now it’s just the positive stuff you trip over. Finding a balance between accepting it and being comfortable with it. She doesn’t stop trying though.
You never kid yourself that this is anything it shouldn’t be. That it’s anything more than just a connection, but you’re beginning to believe that in her own way she loves you. Not in a romantic way, or even friendship, but the way people should love each other. Love with humanity in mind and compassion in heart. She wants you to succeed because she wants the best for people. All people. The simplicity of it almost makes it incomprehensible. If it’s that easy, why aren’t we all participating?
She hasn’t been the first, but it’s been the first time you’ve been able to just accept it. There’s nothing to overthink this time. You’ve had the experience of the unconditional before, but it was warped by your own need to make it into something else. This time you’re just letting it be – mostly. It’s not always easy to offer up that kind of control.
On occasion it reminds you of all the differences between this and other ways you’ve tried to let go. They’re not even comparable, but somehow the intimacy crosses over. You have faith in the situation like few others and know that without doubt you are safe, as safe as any of us can get in a world of tricks and tumbles.
Maybe you’re stronger for it all. It’s taken you more than one failed relationship to understand how to give back this sort of trust and you’re still not sure you’ve really got the hang of it. You don’t ask. You don’t push. You don’t do anything except let it be. Stillness. Stability. Safety.
It’s all one sided, but sometimes you wish it were just a little bit more. With a life full of chaotic people, she is stability like you’ve never known. For now you see it as a fresh start – new choices, new relationships, new understanding. At times you with it could be her, but you don’t let those thoughts linger. It would be too easy to indulge.
She’ll find what she needs, if anything, in the same way she allowed you to. Every once in a while your eyes meet and it’s you who doesn’t look away. You wonder if she’s not silently asking you something for a change. You hold her gaze, but it breaks your walls and you can only hope she can find answers, because you aren’t quite there yet. She doesn’t expect perfection, and instead of trying to force it, you offer what you can. Presence.
You start to consider how separate people make themselves. Walls like edges, fencing us inside and keeping the rest of the world out. Just like puzzles, you start with the frame, find a pattern, and fill in the middle. Even though it’s logical, it’s all bullshit and you wish you could just tear down the walls that prevent us all from overlapping, because that is what we’re supposed to do. Overlap. Mix up. Build upon one another. Grow. Connect – always connecting.
You look for your piece that overlaps with hers and you wonder whose walls are really preventing this sort of jig-sawed-alchemy. You can’t help but wonder how much she guards because of her job and how much is just her own walls. Not anything secret or with motive, but she’s human. She’s not there to show you her sides and you try not to ask for more than she can offer, even though all you want to do is figure her out and give back. Despite your own attempts at objectivity, you do care.
She means too much to risk on a gamble and to be honest, you can be content with the way things are. Somewhere between confidant and friend, you find an ease with her that makes everything else manageable. It isn’t the way you thought it should be, less power dynamic and more friendly banter, but it’s working for you. You respond to her at this level because it keeps you accountable to yourself as well as her.
It’s not a power play that keeps you in line, but your own motivation to do the right thing. Accepting this means you don’t lose the whole thing: the process, the lessons, the experience – all her. There’s room to mess up and more than anything that is what you need. Just a chance to learn how to be with people again. A chance to take a few steps back and try again. It can’t ever be more, but that doesn’t make it less.
One day things will change and the idea scares you. You can’t imagine being without her, but it frightens
you in a new way. You’re not afraid of being abandoned; you’re afraid of missing out on the magic. You’re afraid of losing a real connection, even if you’re the only one experiencing it. Though you know she’ll never really be gone, you’re still young enough to understand that goodbyes come in many levels. People don’t have to leave for an end to come.
It doesn’t stop you from wanting to hug her though. Hold on to a tangible piece for just a moment and allow yourself to embrace the honesty of it. That’s not a risk you’re open to taking. Rejection at this point would break your heart. “I know that if I get really upset you’re not going to just hug me and make it bearable. I understand why and I’m good with that, but if I actually were to have to sit through that conversation and hear you say it – I’m scared it might just break my heart a little bit.” You’re strong enough now that you could pick up the pieces, but somehow you feel like it might do more damage than just that.
You bottle up those needs and wishes, sardonically. Wants not needs. There will be time for that sort of comfort later. When you know you will be able to just accept it and not make it into something destructive. In a backwards sense of logic you recognize that in order to safely accept that sort of affection you have to stop needing it so damn much.
Fixing yourself means losing her and while you would rather have her admiration than basic attention, it’s a hard truth to swallow. You know it’s not time yet, because you’re still not ready – and you briefly wonder if you will be when the time comes. Maybe that is exactly how you’ll know. You’ll be able to keep her with you, but let go of all the rest. Whole and intact, you won’t need anyone else to fill in the gaps.