I remember a time when meeting someone who was just as damaged was a bit of a relief. Everyone walking…
Once you realize the influence you have on another person it is difficult to suppress the desire to abuse it. As a child who was acutely self-aware, I learned just the right words and phrases to say with feigned enthusiasm to evoke a certain response from my family so I could get whatever I wanted. It was the birth of manipulation. As I grew into an insecure teenager, I found myself with a girlfriend here and there and that was when my manipulation skills truly began to flourish. Nothing that I am especially proud of, but recognizing these moments in your life is essential if you want to learn to be responsible with your power. A power that I have used for both good and evil over the years, well, mostly bad in the beginning. Like holding a BB gun for the first time and telling me to not shoot out the street lights. You can’t give a confused child any amount of power without the threat of abuse.
As an adult, I do my best to hurt the least amount of people as possible. A seemingly impossible task, especially when you’re a loud-mouthed, aggressively opinionated jerk but I promise you I do my best. And as an adult finding his way in the world with women, I try my best to not leave them worse for having trusted me. Oftentimes, that is significantly more difficult than it sounds. Because see, I simply want to treat people the way I would like to be treated. I want them to know how I feel and why I feel it. I will sit down with these women and hold their hand and look them in the eye and push words in to their heart that I know they have waited their entire lives to hear. And not because I want to manipulate their emotions, but because it is how my heart feels in that moment and they deserve to know the depth of their investment. And it’s moments like that when people let their guards down. When we forget all the hurt others have caused and we allow you in because we believe this will be the person that won’t abuse our trust. And recognizing that moment is another aspect of the power. I am fully aware of how the touches and gestures and words impact your love for me and that’s good. I want your investment to feel like you got a good deal. Because in that moment, it is just us and the rest of the world is on mute. And sure, it is dangerous for both of us because I allow it in as well. A mutual relinquishment of control is terrifying and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Unfortunately, there are awful children out there in this world who masquerade as adults with BB guns looking to shoot out the street lights of your trust and vulnerability.
She had lost all composure. A confident and well-articulated professional woman with her life together who had been reduced to a blathering mess now clutching to my legs, literally on her hands and knees begging me not to leave. I tried explaining with the last bit of patience I had left that we wouldn’t work out. That I couldn’t be everything she needed me to be. That I was exhausted from being a constant disappointment and that I could feel her resentment and it wasn’t the type of relationship that would be healthy for either one of us. The problem was that she had let go of her control and was now on auto-pilot fighting to save her investment – like trying to keep the band playing as the Titanic sank. No matter how difficult it had gotten, no matter our obvious compatibility short-comings, she had let me in and I could hear it in her voice – she wasn’t going to be wrong again. No matter nor irrational it sounds now, she simply couldn’t let me leave because she would have seen it as a failure. It really is sad to watch someone you loved so hard, someone you looked up to as an inspiration, falling apart right there at your feet, mascara running down her cheeks in voice-cracking desperation. She was better than this and she knew it but she was so lost in the hope I gave her and the future I had promised. And in that moment, I meant everything I said. We had simply evolved in different directions and the foundation we needed for our love to thrive had shifted in different directions. Basically, we were not what the other needed anymore.
I just remember walking away and hearing her heart break. It sounded like she was actually dying. It was horrible and awful and what’s worse is that I knew what to do to stop her pain. But it wouldn’t have been genuine for either of us. And as I walked down the hallway of her building, I thought about the power we have over others and what is the most responsible way to hold someone’s heart and I realized that love and relationships will never be easy no matter how many precautions we take. But that shouldn’t discount the love we had or will have or will lose because it’s all real and genuine and valid. Just because it’s temporary doesn’t mean that it won’t enhance our lives or make us better people. And just because people come and go doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t treat their love with respect. Because while most relationships fail, we need to use our power to treat each one as if they won’t. We need to swing for the fences every time and say “I love you” when you feel it and call when you miss someone and hold them like they’re the the last person we will ever love without shame. Because that’s the only way we have a shot at true and lasting love.
And that’s the only way we have a shot of someone truly loving us.