I had decided this was where I wanted to be. That this life, this man, was what I wanted. And in doing so, tacitly accepted who I’d have to be to fit inside the bantam space of this decision. 

I knew the edges of us felt so close as to be restricting. I knew there were ways I could not move, that I could not stretch my arms wide to the stories of my past. There were opinions I could not speak, fantasies I could not offer, emotional places we could not travel. I convinced myself they were boundaries, not electric fences. 

It was reasonable. It was rational. It made sense. And in many ways, it was easier. There was the effort of the play- hitting my marks and catching my cues- for sure. But it was an unfettered way to move through life, unencumbered by pushback and safe in the role carved out for me. I could be on autopilot. I didn’t have to think or be or do. I could just perform the choreography as it was presented until curtain call. There would be applause and roses. The pas de deux would repeat. And I thought that if I could just be who I needed to be this time, that this revolution around each other would be different. Because I would be different. Softer, gentler, more open. We would be because I would be. 

There were a thousand little ways I died to myself every day. You are growing up, I’d tell me. You are evolving and changing. I never let myself wonder what I was changing into. 

And so, when I lost, when it was clear I lost for good this time, I had so much death to mourn. Losing the love I’d decided on. The ease of being directed and not having to fumble through. Losing who I’d become. The death of who I had been. Every dawn was mourning, every night a new death. I’d done The Right Thing. I’d done it The Right Way. I’d made a safe, reasonable, responsible choice. I’d thrown myself headfirst into the becoming. I’d broken myself open and remodeled all the jagged pieces inside, polishing them up to their shiniest and most presentable. I’d tried. And still, I lost. 

It is better this way. I come home to myself a little bit more every day. I warm myself by the fires of my passions and languish in the cool waters of my freedom. I am not always open- I can’t be- but I know when I am that what lies beneath is the truth of the me I’ve gifted myself. It is better.

But sometimes I liked it better before it was better.

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