… so he says.
What if you didn’t? Will you leave?
My heart dipped a little and I cautiously returned his smile with a slight smile, my eyes betraying the turbulence of emotions stewing inside me. I wondered indeed, what if my monsters got the better of me? What if I were not my peppy chipper self? Memories of me splayed on the bathroom floor, in a dingy motel room, in a dark place somewhere, wailing and howling in an attempt to let go of my pain, flooded my mind. It takes a herculean effort to remain poised, tethered and controlled, and unsuspected of being “un-normal.” I’ve worked hard at hiding the parts of myself that winces at every micro-expression and slip and clue that tells me he’s caught on to my act, that I’m a high-functioning imposter barely able to hold it together. That maybe at some point, I will crumble and fall to pieces and he won’t love what he sees.
He proceeded to list the things we did the night before that he loved. Our casual takeout dinner of soup and dinner rolls, ice cream and a silly rom com on Netflix, and our intimate and awesome lovemaking, and cuddling/sleeping next to each other. He listed these activities as if to prove to himself and me we are great together. I can’t help but feel like one day, those things would be in the museum of our love, as relics to show we really did love each other despite the inevitabilities that would eventually appear. My monsters would show up and build stories in my mind that will push me into a corner and make me leave him, before he leaves me. I had a great time with you last night, he says, as he drives us to his favorite teahouse, excited to get his favorite matcha latte, excited to spend his final minutes of the day with me, before he has to run pick up his children from his soon-to-be ex-wife.
I, too, had a great time with him the night before. I was exhausted from the week of dealing with problems at work and frankly had reached my limit of socializing as an introvert. I hadn’t seen him for a week as he was in Vancouver for work and since we started dating two months ago, it’s the longest period of time we’ve been apart. We talked on the phone and FaceTimed every day this past week, and I had come to depend on that interaction with him as part of my day. When Saturday came about, I was oddly less excited to see him, perhaps because I was worn down by the trifles of the past week and the holiday party the night before. My monsters played up my insecurities and doubt occupied my mind. I wondered if he was lying when he texted me that his flight was delayed. My mind told me that he made up a story because he didn’t really want to see me and I immediately went into a defensive mode and gave him the out not to have to see me. Instead of taking the bait, he said he wanted to hang out, did I not want to hang out? I wondered, did I not want to hang out with him? Did I not want to see him? What bothered me was, I wasn’t sure. Why wasn’t I sure when I had been so excited to talk to him the many nights before? What was wrong? Are my monsters taking over again?
When I finally did see him at his place, after sitting in an Uber for an hour to Berkeley, things seemed normal and fine, even though my eyes and my mind were scanning for signs for things gone wrong, any cue to be on alert. Disappointingly for my monsters, there were no signs of anything to be alarmed about. In fact, things were pretty low key and uneventful. And we had a night that on the surface seemed like two normal people in a relationship would have should they want a low key, uneventful time together. It was a great night. I had an upset stomach in the middle of the night, but other than that, it was a great night.