Sitting on the Fence

I’m waiting here because it seems like the right thing to do. I’m waiting here because it’s the only option left, when such a short time ago, our world together was just beginning to sparkle with possibility. I was prepared to wait then, just as I am now; years if I had to. My willingness surprised me – that I’d rather be at limited capacity with you than full speed with anybody else actually came as a shock.

I thought I knew where I stood when it came to the beautifully complicated issue of you and me. After all those years of wanting, I had come to peace with ‘us’. I had accepted things as they were. You were The Love of My Life, but not my love. Not the one I would be with, beyond the occasional very sweet and sometimes problematic moment. Not the one I would wake up to, or share a path with, despite all the ways we have guided each other’s direction. Existing in reflection of each other, always shining a light, ever a reminder of our most beautiful and powerful selves, usually when we most needed it, but not by each other’s side day to day. The merest touch or glance could be enough, at times, to keep one or both of us from falling over our personal edges. It felt like a sweet and sacred duty, one that I was happy to uphold – you’d been my lighthouse, my confidante, my protector and my sanity enough times for it to seem mutual – and that was something that lasted beyond any relationship model we could try and contain it in. Our love became boundless, and beyond definition. I could trust that it would always be present, even when we might not be, and that knowledge became part of my personal mythology.

I’d stopped questioning why and how it could be that a love so deep, so tried and tested – so necessary – a love that provides such sustenance and growth, could exist only on the edges; how it could be that at those key moments, and more than once, we had both chosen others. Instead, I gradually shaped my own world to be one in which there would always be space for you, space for you and me, at a moment’s notice, and no matter who else was in my heart, mind or bed. The full extent of that engineering only revealed itself after all these years, but beyond that first time, there was never again a need for me to lie about you, or make a choice that excluded you from my life. Even when you weren’t at the forefront, you were there. Always there, always a factor.

And then, without much fuss at all, you became my love. My lover. My every day person for the first time. And every single wall I didn’t even know I’d built fell down. My choices of the past decade came into question as it dawned on me just how much my love for you has defined me, even in your very absence from my daily life. I came to peace with a new understanding: that I wanted you this close to me always, and that denying it had caused a rift in me that needed to be acknowledged and healed, whether we would ultimately be together or not. After so long, so many ‘wrong’ turns, so many misplaced rejections, it finally felt like we were on course, channeling that boundless love into a new way of being together.

I’m waiting here because it seems like the right thing to do. I’m waiting here because I have to believe you need to see me. On the night we came together again, I was so totally in the moment with you. I surrendered to my desire to be close to you, thinking that this time would follow suit with all the other nights. That we’d connect and remember our magnetic brilliance like we had various times over the years, and then we’d have to distance ourselves again as the weight of circumstances pulled you under. That we’d talk and reassess and once again find ways to keep ourselves ‘safe’ from the temptation, ways that would allow us to stay close without crossing the more obvious lines. I was prepared to take that risk, and I went in with open eyes. I wanted my fix of you after so long, I won’t deny it, and if it wasn’t fair, or right, it was soul opening and profound enough to re-write my future as well as my past.

But that night turned into more nights, and as weeks turned into months, we developed a rhythm of our own, a rhythm my melody started singing to. You would come to me weary, but with your love and all remaining energy on offer. Ours were the moments in between, the hours when the moon stood guard, and we filled them with tenderness, exploration, sensuality, humour, and magic. Sometimes we even filled them with sleep, that simplest of needs transforming into an act of love, me staying awake so you could safely drift away.

We learned things about each other that we’d never had the chance to before. We gradually started crafting a framework of relating beyond the cosmic ships in the night, know your soul yet not your daily routine kind of way we’d slipped into over so many years. Each meal we shared together was a quiet revolution. Each farewell a minute heartbreak. Undeniably, each night was also a promise, with unknown clauses perhaps, but a tacit dedication to each other. I gradually accepted your daily presence, and even though I never stopped pinching myself, eventually I became accustomed to it. Maybe that was my mistake – but seeing your power and feeling my own grow with every moment spent together, it didn’t seem like one. Accepting your love felt like an act of bravery.

I’m waiting here because it seems like the right thing to do. I’m waiting here because there’s no other way. I can’t call you anymore. I can’t invite you with a playful glance into my bed. Can’t open my door to you, or wait outside for you to arrive, shifting from foot to foot with excitement, even after all these years. You won’t drive me home. My hand won’t come to rest on the back of your neck, sending waves of electricity through you just from that simple touch. We won’t stand under the stars, cool air on our skin, happy to just be with each other. There will be no more sharing of food, ideas or other nourishment; we won’t sustain each other in any of the ways that left us sweaty and wide eyed with humility and wonder. I won’t get to remind you of the choices you have, or show you what it’s like to be loved freely and without fear.

Maybe I’ll leave without seeing you, like I did yesterday, and the day before that, or like all the days that will come to pass in the future. Or maybe you’ll walk up just as that song you don’t really care for comes on my headphones, and I’ll look up to find you standing in front of me, as if nothing had changed. But it has. Everything is different now.

What could even be said, in those first moments of reunion? For days, I’ve practiced simply saying hi, leaving space for you to explain like I need you to. Nothing you can say will be enough, and I know you won’t have the words, but I need you to try anyway. This nothingness is consuming me.

Maybe I’ll find out you talked for 5 days straight. About me. About us. That you promised to tell her everything from now on. Which includes that you’ve seen me. And that any opportunity for me – for us – to even talk about where we go from here is off the cards, beyond this brief moment. Maybe I will feel betrayed, whether I have a right to or not. Maybe it will feel like I’ve forgotten how to breathe temporarily when I realise that this really is it, there is no more us. And that I had absolutely no say in the matter. That my life with you, my safety, my sanity, my opinion and wants, have been rendered null and void, without further discussion, and that you agreed to this on my behalf.

Maybe I’ll say I wish I could be angry at you. Maybe you’ll tell me that it’s fine if I am; that you accept whatever response I have. Maybe I won’t believe you could even say such a thing, when clearly the success of your decision relies in no small way on me moving on as if we didn’t spend all those months together, or the best part of a decade trying to convince ourselves that we weren’t breaking any rules.

Maybe it will feel like that night at the cemetery, when I heard again that you would accept any decision I made about the life we had called into being. Even though I knew you meant every word, and that your intention was to support me through whatever I decided, there was no way that intention could be met. Not when we had barely had the chance to discuss what you wanted, let alone what you were available for. So what did it mean for you, to say that you accepted my choice? I still don’t understand. Maybe this assertion will trigger the same confusion, and it will feel like a twist of the knife when you know, surely you know that my needs have had to be pushed aside. Do you accept that I need more than this silence? That, to heal, I need communication and care? Or that no safe detachment can happen without us agreeing to do so together? Does your acceptance extend to action?

You know the kind of woman I am. Do you think I would take to calling you daily to vent my anger and fear, or to seek my answers, turning up where I know you’ll be to force you to face me, and what’s been left behind? Convince you to come back to me, to our connection? Try to talk to her woman to woman? That any of these possibilities would even cross your mind as an option for me hurts almost as much as my sudden omission from your life. But I also know the kind of man you are, and so I know it’s probably all you feel you have to offer me, and to the last, you’ll try to give me whatever you can. Maybe that’s your mistake – giving when you have no resources to do so. But it didn’t feel like a mistake, on the receiving end of your care. And it seemed like an act of self-preservation for you to accept my love.

I’m waiting here because it seems like the right thing to do. I’m waiting here in the hope of some sort of resolution even though – let’s be realistic – we both know you won’t give it to me, and that I would probably break if you did. I am caught in a paradox of never wanting to surrender hope, and hope sustaining the sense of possibility that keeps me bound to you. Without hope, I can move on and be open to new things, but without you, I don’t know if I even want to. You were the last risk I had anything left to take a chance on, the last chance I had to make sense of my scattered pieces, and now I really don’t know where to turn, or how to start again, let alone continue.

I recognise how dramatic this all sounds, and at times, I’m almost too ashamed to even talk about it. I made a choice. I took a risk. It failed, and now it’s time to get on with it. But we both know it’s not that simple. How are we supposed to sever ties overnight? This isn’t just one of those times that our orbit shifts. This is us being blacklisted permanently. And you don’t seem to be doing anything about it.

Maybe a part of me will want to scream at the futility, but the shock will still be too great as I face the reality that you cannot be my ally or my advocate anymore. Maybe all I’ll want to do is pull you close to me and hold you, to try and soothe the anguish on your beautiful face even more than trying to calm my own savaged heart.

You can tell me again that you don’t want me to miss out on anything because of you and that you don’t want to hold me back – it seems to make you feel better when you do. You might have even convinced yourself that there’s someone else who can take your place, as if my openness leaves my loves replaceable, or worse, interchangeable. But you can’t change the fact that I have been denied the person I most want to be close to, the one that no other compares to, and that it happened without warning or anything beyond the briefest of explanations. It happened mid-way through our conversation, and with the wheels fully in motion. Is this what whiplash of the heart feels like?

Twelve words to tell me we were done. One for every year of loving each other, I guess…but it’s just not enough. We both know that I did not sign up for this, no matter how accepting I may have been of the limitations. I want you to tell me that I’ve got it wrong, because on no level does this feel like it can be real.

Of course, I understand. She knows. She knows everything, you said. And even though you had considered telling her more than once, you now know what is expected of you, and that doesn’t include me. But what do you want? What is it like to live each day with someone who will possibly never trust you again? Who sees me as poison? What will you do with all this love?

I found out that in just a few weeks, I’ll be working within blocks of you again. What will happen when I can’t rely on a lack of physical proximity to protect me from feeling your untouchable presence? Will I find myself walking past in the hope of bumping into you? Will I manage to exercise control, give you the space neither of us asked for, but which has been demanded? I can’t conceive of what it will it take to be capable of that feat. Especially not now, when my faith in my own abilities is at an all time low. When I find myself standing in tears on nearby street corners, unable to move for the possibility of seeing you.

Can you imagine what it’s like to know you are there, so close and soon to be even closer; that just as you occupy my mind constantly, you think of me relentlessly and love me endlessly, and all that stops me from calling you every day is willpower? It’s myself I’m fighting against, for a goal that splinters me into broken glass. I am running out of steam, my love. Each day, it actually becomes harder to ignore what I want, to live without what I came to accept as my normal – our normal. The chasm is gaping ever wider. The leap between the here and now and believing I will be okay becomes that much further. And underneath it all, is my disbelief that this is truly what will serve you in the longterm.

How can you accept this version of your life? How can I allow myself to support you in that choice, after everything we’ve talked about?

But maybe the only thing I can give you is my understanding, now that anything else is too volatile. An act of faith I will undertake for you, as I choose to make it easier in any way I can, despite how much further apart it leaves us. Despite my worry that you will fade away into obligation and roles and past agreements until all that lights your fire is gone. Despite the paralysing fear that there is no other love that can make me shine so beautifully to the rest of the world, no other lover who will ever bring out my best self in the way that you do. Despite all the realisations about how my love for you has shaped my path, and how I’ve been searching for you in every love since I first denied you, and every time we failed to choose each other since. Despite all the questions those truths raise, and all the givens I’ve now come to doubt. Despite the fact that my heart won’t calm down without you, and that no matter who I surround myself with, I never feel at home, never feel at peace, and never feel satisfied, because my mind tells me you’ll be arriving in a few hours almost every damn day, and I don’t have the heart to tell it it’s wrong.

This may be what rushes through my mind as I struggle to make the most of those stolen moments together, as I also wonder if I even know you at all, and if I simply got it all terribly wrong. Back at the start, you said you couldn’t live without us anymore, and I believed you. How could I do anything else? My light started shining again with you by my side. All the re-directions, all the seemingly pointless devastation had a context finally. Of course I knew we were precarious, but you promised you would give me as much warning as you could if things had to change. And I believed you. Thirteen hours notice, give or take a minute. One hour for every year we’ve known each other, I guess. But it’s just not enough.

How I wish I had asked for the fine print before signing up. Are you so scared for their safety that you have to stay at the risk of your own wellbeing? Teach them to put love and happiness after duty? If that is the case, then I have failed you. Failed by not asking the right questions, and therefore having no understanding of how worried you must always have been. By putting my need to love and be loved by you before my sense of what is right let alone practical; by letting myself believe it would be okay, and that the risks we took were manageable. By accepting your silent responses, I have become complicit in the threat to their safety. I have broken my own trust, and my heart and mind have followed closely behind. If your fear is so great, how dare I even dream of time with you, how could you come to me at all? And if it’s not…then why? Why choose this path? Is this really the only way?

I’m waiting here because it seems like the right thing to do. I’m waiting here because I miss you beyond measure and I want to see you.

I joined the dots as best I could. You needed me to stay away, just as much as you hoped I would come. I had to take the risk for both of us, because as painful as it was to see you like that, not seeing you was much worse. You have accepted an ultimatum that I was never in a place to issue. Your heart sings with mine, while you live in another reality, a space you can no longer reach out to me from. Our time is not our own anymore, and there are unexpressed rules that needed to be followed. I did my best to decipher them, and the look on your face showed me I had understood as well as could be expected.

I wanted you to be able to tell her you didn’t even touch me. In that small way, I tried to keep you safe. And for my part, how could I allow our intimacy to be shared like that, especially now that I only exist as the negative force in someone else’s story? Despite all these years on opposite sides of you, she and I are strangers, to her maybe even adversaries. I can accept logically that I am the intruder, but my soul tells me how untrue that is. I’ve been an ally. At times, I served you so you could serve them. And this time, our love brought us both back to life. Surely that deserves my protection, especially if yours is no longer available.

I’m waiting here because it seems like the right thing to do. I’m waiting here because I can’t think of anything else to do with all this love.

Eyes locked. Hearts dancing on hot coals. I couldn’t tell if you wanted to touch me and feared what would happen if you did, or whether you thought I wouldn’t want your arms around me. Worst of all was the worry that maybe you no longer want to feel my skin against yours, and that you would refuse me. So I didn’t reach out to you as we tried to say goodbye, even though I wanted to, even though my eyes begged you to take control and hold me.

As you said you had to go for the third time, I tried to let you go. Tried to convince myself that I had what I needed, that a rushed and unexpected conversation was enough to start my healing. You turned to leave, finally, as I searched my mind for anything that could justify one moment more. Held out for the miraculous happy ending, can you believe it?

As you got to the threshold, you looked back at me. In that same way I have seen you do every single time since we first met, you looked back at me until the very last moment. Thank god, and damn you to hell.

I’m waiting here because it seems like the right thing to do. I’m waiting here because I can’t bear not to. Sometimes I feel that I will always wait for you, and I think that’s what I’m scared of.

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5 thoughts on “Sitting on the Fence

Add yours

  1. Infin8 I miss your writing. Came here tonight because my own heart is hurting. Still loved re-reading. From one writer to another may I be so bold as to suggest you need to ‘write it out’.

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    1. I’m sorry to hear about your heartache Laaylore, and I really appreciate your comment. I write best when I have a topic in mind – is there something I can muse on to help with your pain?

      Like

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