He is quiet, preferring to keep his anger close, his sadness closer. He is in control. He is boisterous only when he is happy, which is most of the time.
I am loud. I am bossy and opinionated. Passionate, some say, and I guess it's the truth. I care too much, but I don't mind it one bit. My anger is biting. My sadness is the only thing I bottle up and hide.
I uncork it sometimes, for him. He knows me like no other human being can. He knows things I've told nobody else. He knows things I'd barely ever admit to myself.
I'm honest with him about what's happened to me. It's then that I see him truly angry. He laughs at work and jokes and has fun with all that emotional heaviness. He's mildly irritated, but he's under control. It's when I tell him what they've done to me, that I see his anger. It's subtle, and if you didn't know him like I do, you'd miss it in action. The tightness in his jaw. The way he thins his lips. His hands clench and unclench, trying to work out some impossible kink. I hear it in the determination in his voice, in the way he says things as if they're inalienable truths: "That will never. Happen. Again."
It's the first time I've felt this connected to another human being. I'd never felt this before I loved him. I'd never felt as if my pain could physically pain someone else, as if my happiness alone would make him happy. I've never felt before as if simply being comfortable together is enough; that I don't need to constantly be of service, don't need to constantly perform, don't need to constantly meet-or-exceed-expectations. I want to give him everything that I can offer and all he really wants is myself.
But I hate myself. And so it is difficult to give him this thing which he loves and adores and cherishes more than anything in his entire life. I don't understand how I can be enough. I don't grok how it is that simply being myself is the reason he loves me. I can't fathom how 'what do you see in me' can be answered with "I don't know, you're just You." How am I supposed to exceed that expectation? How am I supposed to put on that performance? When it isn't a performance he wants, or an expectation that he has? How do I be myself when I am so uncomfortable in my own skin that I'd rather sleep, disconnect, withdraw, anaesthetize, hide, shrink, disappear or die?
I can't fake that. I can't pretend. I can't put on a show or deflect the attention. Pressing him for details about what behaviour exactly it is that he approves of, so that I can further model this for him, is replied to with a shrug. It frustrates me endlessly, here I am, offering to dance for him, wanting to do everything to please him, to impress him, to prove myself, and he won't tell me to dance.
He wants me and that's the thing I am most loath to give him, out of everything else in the world, because it is the only gift that I truly feel is deeply and pathetically unworthy.
And to him it's the most valuable gem in the world.
How to reconcile this? Prescription antidepressants cannot make one like oneself, they only make it possible to live with yourself on a day to day basis. How to unravel the tapestry of my deep-seated sense of unworthiness? How to pull at that thread saying that I'm not and never will be good enough, until it falls in a tangled mess at my feet and I can finally kick it away from me and be free of its constriction forever?
To him, I am more than worthy. To him, I am more than enough. It makes it all the more painful, to see the gulf between what he sees and how I feel, and to know, deeply and truly, that the yawning chasm in between is filled with darkness and all that is truly wrong?
And for the first time, learning to quiet the words I learned as a child, to ignore that sense that I should simply "stop feeling sorry for [myself]" and stifle the crying, hold in the sobs, and let the tears flow down my cheeks as the only expression of my suffering that I cannot hold inside. I did it at my brother's funeral, for Christ's sake, and my grandfather's funeral before that. No! That has to stop! My pain is real and pretending it is as insignificant and worthless as I believe myself to be will only end in more pain! Better to finally hold my suffering in my hand, to tell myself that I care that I'm in pain, that it's okay to cry and be anguished, instead of deriding myself for ever being so pathetic as to have feelings in the first place.
It is only when I accept that I'm allowed to be human that I will be able to love the human that I am as my love loves me: as a whole thing, not some collection of accomplishments and achievements, not some kind of walking résumé with a checklist of confirmations-that-I-am-acceptable.
He wants only the very, very best for me. How do I learn to want this thing for myself? He believes in me in ways that all self-deprecation aside, I truly do not deserve. His love for me is a lightning-rod for how this is abnormal: this me-on-a-pedestal that he's loved ever since we were skinny teenagers is truly the me he loves. He has never loved this paper-doll of pretend and pedantry. He loves the me that I can't stand to be.
I have found a thousand ways in the past to stifle this. Too emo, too begging of other peoples' sympathy, too much feeling sorry for myself, too pathetic, too a thousand things. I've got to stop folding parts of myself up and tucking them away in envelopes, thinking I can keep them hidden forever. It all bubbles to the surface in the end, or my attempts to keep it from doing so end up being so unsustainably self-destructive that not only will they end in my destruction, but the destruction of this thing most precious to me: my relationship with this man who I will soon marry.
That... that is unacceptable to me. So honesty it is. I cannot lie to myself any longer and pretend that I'm such a significant drama queen that nobody will be able to ever stand hearing of the many ways in which I've been wronged by the universe. Fact is, writing is therapy: and if I can't express who I am in the very journal that contains so many other pieces of who I am, then why bother writing in it in the first place? To change what I'd say on the basis of some kind of expectation of performance on behalf of my readers would be the exact kind of interpersonal dishonesty that is cramping my relationship with the one I love. I'm not some trained monkey who dances for the approval of others. I'm a whole person, with wants and needs, pain and fears, as unique and valuable as anyone else.
I just don't know it yet.