Portrait of Pain II
I had felt it for a while, though even then I didn’t know it. I didn’t know that I knew. It’s odd when truth gnaws at your gut, but you stubbornly ignore it. It is odd because, on the one hand, you know it, but on the other, you don’t. It’s odd and it’s dangerous. The truth is the truth, and you know it, and it gnaws at your gut. But you ignore it, and it keeps gnawing and gnawing and biting and biting, until it finally eats you up. The truth eats you up and spits you out. I remember the night the truth vomited me out.
In a total fluke, she updates her operating system and all of a sudden her phone has started sharing her location with me. She doesn’t know it; I know she doesn’t know. And in a normal situation, I would have just told her, and she would have turned it off, and we would have gone on none the wiser. But this wasn’t a normal situation, because I knew, though I didn’t know that I knew. I knew and so I let it be. I didn’t say anything; but I would check from time to time. See where she is, imagine what she’s doing. And the imagining fed the truth. I felt it; I’m starting to know what I knew.
One night, I see that she leaves work and goes to a bar. I know she has a meeting coming up, and we’re texting, and I know she’s texting me from this bar. And we’re texting, chatting, and I’m thinking “Why is she at this bar? When is she going to leave? Why hasn’t she left yet?” And these questions start driving me mad. She’s still at the bar; we’re still texting. And the questions are burrowing deeper and deeper into my mind; I can’t get them out. “What is she doing here? Who did she meet? Why hasn’t she left?” I have to know. So I try to find out; I try to ask without asking, so I ask my awkward question, whatever it is. She gives her answer, whatever it is. And it’s fine. Question answered. But it isn’t fine; I know. I know it and I feel it, but I’m unaware.
Maybe it was the mixture of unawareness and knowledge and feeling, maybe it wasn’t. Maybe we can’t know and not know for too long. Or maybe we all have little monsters in our minds waiting for their moment to grab a passing thought and spin a story. Maybe the monster doesn’t want us to really know, but can’t deny that we know, so the monster is forced to spin the trueish false story that so easily ensares us. Maybe; or maybe not. I don’t know.
But, after she answered, I felt searing guilt. I have rarely, if ever, felt such strong guilt. It burned me. What was I thinking? Why didn’t I trust her? Why was I lying to her by keeping her location sharing silent? I felt guilty and I felt evil. I had done a terrible thing. I had failed to trust her, I had angled and tried to manipulate her. I had suspected her. I was filthy and dirty and shameful and wrong. The weight was too much to bear. And so it broke me.
Whatever the reasons, however odd or normal, it doesn’t really matter, but when I break, I want to break myself. This is one of my monsters. Now, I can be honest and say that I have truly never wanted to end my own life; but, I have wanted to break myself. And it sounds vague because it is vague. It is just a strong sense that I need to make things right by doing something, and doing it to myself. And so when I broke, on that night,
I wanted to break myself;
I wanted to break my skin;
I wanted to make amends;
deep down, I just wanted all the pain to stop. And maybe real pain would stop this other, amorphous, silent, scary pain. And that’s what I thought, and that’s what I wanted. And I sat on the side of the bed and I cried. I cried because I felt such guilt and shame; I cried because I wanted to hurt myself; I cried because I felt utterly broken; I cried because I felt it, the truth, slowly spitting me out.
I cried, long and hard and ugly. And at some point I had gathered enough of myself to call her. I had to tell her. I had to take away the possibility of snooping and lying. I had to confess and start to make amends.
“I asked those awkward questions because I knew you were at the bar, and I knew you had your meeting, and I was honestly a bit suspicious. I’m so sorry. I’m so so sorry that I didn’t trust you, that I didn’t tell you about your location sharing.”
She was understandably upset. She didn’t want to come home; she needed time.
“How could you do this? This is an invasion of my privacy. I feel hurt. I need time; I need space”.
Every word rang fully true. I had failed; I was a failure. I knew it and she knew it. And I broke again.
“You’re right. You are so right. It was wrong and I knew it was wrong. I feel so terrible.”
I was broken and I wanted to break myself. But I couldn’t; I couldn’t really. I liked the idea more than the execution. So I told her.
“I want to hurt myself”.
I was reaching out; I was asking her what to do, I think. Am I broken? Should I do something to make up for being broken?
She freaked out a bit, told me not to do anything, asked if I wanted to kill myself.
“No. Nothing like that. I just feel so bad.”
“Don’t freak me out like that. Are you just trying to get me to come home? Is this a stunt?”
I don’t know; maybe, yes, no. I don’t know.
“No, it’s not a stunt. But you’re right, I was being crazy. I said something dumb in a low spot. I’m alright. You are understandably upset. You don’t need to come home. I promise; I won’t do anything.”
And I didn’t.
I cried more, but I didn’t do anything. I had broken twice, the truth gnawing at my gut had finally chewed its way through me. But it’s not like I realized anything that night, nothing changed. All I knew was the pain. And it wasn’t good, and it wasn’t bad; it simply was, like the truth that I knew and yet didn’t know.
Truth and pain
pain and truth
me and her
me and I
some things simply are, or simply were, or simply will be …