October 10, 2006

You’re Nobody ‘till Somebody Loves You

I met the most gorgeous man one evening; 38, never married, hasn’t had a steady girlfriend in ages. Terribly smart, perceptive; very polite; very funny too. Flirtatious to the bone. Shameless. With that boyish playfulness that I find so irresistible (until it turns to selfishness and irresponsibility.)

So what’s wrong with you? I ask him – half mocking him, half wandering. He looks straight into my eyes, hardly containing his delight. Hold on my heart, I think to myself. Was it a trap? Did I fell right in?
No, seriously, I recompose myself. If you’re so darn perfect, how come nobody wants you? How come you’re so alone?

I’m not, he says smiling. I’m with you.

Right, I gulp. Silly me.
He’s playing with me and he’s better at this game than I’ll ever be. I stumble. I feel my way in the dark. He’s enjoying himself. I should pull back. That twinkle in his eyes spells trouble – he’s a swindler, a playboy, the wrong kind of man for me to play with. Not again. What was I thinking?

Only … I wasn’t playing. I was honest (alright: and naïve) – and it took like forever to get him serious about it, into my territory. And a bottle of wine. And when he starts talking he stops looking me in the eyes.

He’s happy with his life – just the way it is. He loves his job, his dog, and the fact that ‘nobody tells him what to do’. He’s ‘the lord of his mansion’ – comes and goes as he pleases. No one to answer to. He’s free to enjoy his life to the fullest. Every moment of it. No regrets. No looking back. No complications.

I listen in silence. I know, by the hesitation in his voice, that it’s been a long time since he actually talked to someone. If ever. No games, no charades, just him. I get that a lot. I recognize it by the butterflies in my stomach.

Hours into the night, the story of his life pours out. Bits and pieces, like a puzzle coming together, to complete the image I was so curious about. Stories of loss, unfelt grief, of betrayal, of being let down, left behind, hurt, unloved. He says he’s fine, and I hear the words. Yet they tell a different story in my heart – one of such a terrible, hopeless sadness, of deeply buried emotions, unspoken fears. Lost Faith. A story of complete, self-imposed, self-protective loneliness. And even though it looks like he’s reaching out to me – he’s so far away that I can barely touch him.

By his way of life, the whole thing would’ve ended (gloriously) with sex, thus restoring the order of things - to make him safe - to get me back to my rightful place: that of a toy, a dolly he’s playing with for the night. I’m supposed to turn into a ‘complication’ by day-light. I get the point, only too well. But I don’t like playing Barbie.

And there’s no button to push to make me ‘happy’ again, after everything he’s told me. It weights heavily on my soul. I feel all the pain he’s ignoring. And I feel like crying. His un-cried tears; the ones that drawn his dreams into a puddle of repressed despair and anger.

But there’s no way I can make him see. He’s already made up his mind, and he has the perfect theory to back him up. The fit words to hide the pain, and the fear. And the brains to defend it ever again, against every argument I could think of.

And yes … I could've stayed. (I would've; I wanted to) I could've found a way to accept that tiny place in his life he’d prepared for me. But I know that, at best, he would pretend this never happened. He would never look me in the eyes again. All these… ‘things’ he’s told me - only to re-enforce The Fact that he’s Just Fine. He’d get even better at his game – to better show me that he doesn’t need me, or anything.

And the truth is … I don’t want to be needed. I don’t want to be ‘strong’ for you. I don’t want to pretend I don’t care. I don’t want anybody else’s tears – I’ve got my own. And I’ve got my own fears to struggle with, and my own faith to keep.

And if you are reading this – I hope you’ll forgive me for walking out like that. And there are no words in the world to reason our way around it. I know you think I’m very smart, but that’s not how I chose to live my life. Mine is the way of the heart. Since you have no respect for your own feelings – how could you respect mine?

To you it was just a game; but I was falling for it. And it’s not fair, you see. You can do this with anybody – you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.
But I would.

A song by Frank Sinatra and Judy Garland. "You're nobody 'till somebody loves you, so find yourself somebody to love!"

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