I keep pretending I don’t know why I can’t sleep.
I’ve known for awhile.
I’ve just found it easier to pretend it’s work (sometimes it is) or family affairs (sometimes it’s that too) or just general dismay at the stark contrast between my life as I want it and as I live it (many times it’s that as well.)
But if I were the type of person fond of math, adept at winding equations and multiple variables, I believe I’d find the root of much of my sleeplessness is you.
I am a liar. Not to the people I love; I care for them too much to try to sustain them on falsehoods. But I lie to myself. I apparently hold far less self regard. I tell myself things that deep down in the recesses of my heart I know aren’t true because sometimes the need to be able to survive Right Now, is more pressing than the need for truth. It’s a survival technique like any other. The problem with lying is that it’s essentially like running a marathon on a Red Bull; in the long run, it will never sustain you.
So here’s the truth.
There is a space only you have occupied since the first time we talked. In the years since, all of them, you have never moved out of that place and no one else has ever moved in. Long before we wound our way back to each other, I thought of you when the world fell silent and hoped you were well. Happy. Healthy.
And missing me too.
I am not always hard to get to know, as you have claimed me to be. But rather I always knew, and still know now, there is danger in fully letting my guard down, in letting you get aquatinted with the particular timbre of your name on my tongue. Of saying too much. Feeling too much. Controlling too little.
Because I roll over in my sleep and reach for you. Because you are some fuzzy apparition in my dreams. Because too often yours is the last voice I hear before I fall asleep and it narrates my sleep. And even when it isn’t, wishing it was is too often my last conscious thought.
I miss your laugh when I don’t hear it for days at a time and not a day goes by that something funny, something sweet, something poignant, something beautiful happens and my gut reaction is to share it with you. I see pictures of beautiful places and I want to go there with you, hold your hand through the streets, across the sands, up the mountains.
I watch your hands when I’m not supposed to and imagine being the skin underneath them, laid bare to strong palms and nimble fingers and ferocious need. I watch your mouth when you talk and sometimes I forget what I was going to say next.
I’m angry that my prayers to one day wake up to find you unremarkable go unanswered. I hate the bittersweet contentment that comes after the conversations I allow myself to get lost in. I chastise myself for remembering the small details and smoldering suggestions in the silences between words. And I’m furious at myself for allowing this all to be the elephant in the room for so long. Too long. Growing and looming larger and darker, threatening only to consume me and not us both.
The truth is I have been so weak for you. I’ve sat in hypocritical judgment of friends in similar circumstances, giving them advice I was silently begging myself to take.
I’ve compared everyone to you for a long time, I still do, and it isn’t fair to the people who’ve gone, who are here now trying to find their place. I’ve chained myself to this notion that this, whatever, is special. Extraordinary. Sacred.
I shake my head at what a fool I’ve been.
I take responsibility for my choices. For holding my breath and sinking to the bottom of this feeling. For holding back from people and situations more worthy than this one. For participating in my own pain. For lying to myself when I knew better.
And now that I’ve told the truth, if I’m lucky, this is the last thing I’ll ever write about you.