“I love you so much sometimes that if I really stop and think about it, I start crying,” I say.
“Awwwww,” he says. He smiles.
“Does that ever happen to you?”
“No,” he says. “But I love you very much.”
“Oh, okay,” I say. After the words have left my mouth, I note how disappointed I sound. It happens simultaneously sometimes. I realize how I feel at nearly the same instant I’m conveying it to someone else.
He looks at me in alarm, clearly concerned by my tone.
“Sometimes I just… stuff like that makes me feel like you don’t love me as much as I love you. And I know it’s probably stupid, but I wish you did,” I say.
He sighs. He’s frowning now. “Of course I love you just as much.”
“Then why don’t get you get overwhelmed by it like I do?” I ask.
“Because I’m not you,” he says. His mouth is a tight line of anger.
I’ve crossed the line. I know this conversation needs to be over. I resolve to not say anything else.
But we’re both riled up, in our own ways. I sigh at the wrong pitch. And something about how little I’m saying bothers him. So somehow we end up fighting anyway, about something else altogether.
At the end of it, after we’ve made up, I listen to him falling asleep. I wonder how many more nights I’ll get to share a bed with him. How long before I find a way to screw it all up?
I Catch Myself Thrumming Up New Relationship Energy
I’m driving into work the next day listening to my favorite playlist. The hyper-romantic one that always makes my heart feel like it’s going to explode. Each song is a back to back study in New Relationship Energy, one after another.
I hit a bottleneck in traffic, and while I’m stopped I drift back to when I first started dating him.
Riding around in his tiny car, feeling his giant hands on my bare legs, the roughness of his skin contrasting with the smoothness of my satin skirt. Early morning rays of sunlight cutting through the window as he dropped me off where I lived, before making his own way into the office.
I was a strange addition to his life. Spending Monday nights wrapped up in his bed sheets. Looking at his high school yearbooks as we ate a box cake.
There was something so fundamentally good about him. Pure. He was benevolent to his core. And I carnally craved his body in a way that was unprecedented, especially since he was a man and not a woman. It was the most intense New Relationship Energy I ever felt.
I’d spend hours when we were apart mentally retracing the path his hands took when he had put them on my body. When I was naked in his bed.
The cars in front of me start to move. I snap out of the memory. But the romantic music is continuing to play.
“You’re doing this to yourself, you know,” I say, to my empty car.
I start to cry.
It’s Not Fair to Him… or to Me
When I get to the office, I text him.
I think what happens is that I whip myself into a romantic frenzy, and I get into these obsessive patterns. Listening to songs on repeat. I basically brainwash myself into this heightened state of love.
And then I expect you to just feel the same way. Naturally. And that’s not fair to you.
I tell him I’m not sure what to make of it. What to do with this information. But that I’ve at least discovered my own role in the process. That I’m complicit in this state of lopsided intensity.
He tells me it’s okay. That he understands. That he doesn’t know how to help other than to stay with me while I figure it out. To hang close by, listening.
Pedestals Are Terrible, No Matter Which Side of Them You’re On
The trouble, ultimately, is that putting someone on a pedestal is terrible, no matter which side of it you’re on. At the bottom, it’s easy to feel inferior, unworthy. But at the top, it’s so lonely that it can feel like a kind of prison. The other person gazing up at you never really sees you, blinded by the perfection they’re imagining in your place.
As Jennifer Megan Varnadore writes:
He told me once I was flawless in his eyes, because my imperfections made me that way. Imperfections build character, but in the end he is close, but might as well as not exist. So, where is flawless now? He too saw me fall off the pedestal. He called me beautiful all of the time, even when I said I failed or I was a mess he still found me beautiful, but that isn’t how he sees me anymore. I’m not beautiful or flawless. I’m just something like the sun, and he’s the Icarus who flew too close.
I loved him too much. I needed him too much. I craved the very sound of his voice. He was the world to me. He was the very breath I breathed. And it almost ruined me. And it almost ruined him. They don’t tell you that about love. How it can ruin you by its mere existence. How it can be so deep that it devours you. And that…is most frightening.
He placed me on a pedestal, and wondered why his Queen was only a mere doll in the looking glass.