The Twenty-Four Words That Changed Everything
This is a post about honesty. I’m laying myself bare to you all. My mind has been going all day and now, in words I couldn’t find for my family or friends, I am letting you in to my world.
Up until now I have been referring to my ‘relationship’ with M24 as a game of Battleships. His checking back to my profile more than once was hit one. The moment he chose to reply to me seemingly with genuine interest was hit two. The calm acceptance with which he received the news of my depression history was the third. From February 13th – the first time we spoke – until just recently I have been thinking of it more as a game. Not that I haven’t been taking it seriously. Just simply that I never imagined anything real could come out of it. Insecurities, irrational fear, self-loathing .. it all added up to my not believing that anything more than the written word was possible.
The written word is like a barrier. A safe place. An imagined world. I am comfortable there. It’s why I can write this blog but stutter in a face to face conversation. It’s why I can write poetry and fiction yet struggle to have a basic conversation in person. I feel a lot more confident with the written word. Unfortunately it’s possible this has been my downfall. Writing words on paper or on screen for the purpose of story writing made it seem less real perhaps. I think I find it easier because I have time to think about what I’m saying before I try and get it out. In real-time conversation I don’t have the time to consider my response before I need to reply. However with the written word it becomes instantly easier to take the time to consider word choice, think over my answer. This is perhaps why I feel more confident talking to M24 via text and email, and yet find it very difficult in person.
It doesn’t quite feel real, it feels easier. But things changed drastically last night. This shit just got very, very real.
It is no longer a game. I can no longer afford to take it lightly. Before, it was nice that M24 liked me but I never thought it would be more than that. I think this is partly because there is no tone in the written word. One sentence can be read in a number of ways depending on tone and so it feels less real when I am unable to determine what that tone is. And yet .. And yet I received a message last night that, even without the tone, I can tell has changed the way I look at this ‘relationship’.
With only slight editing on the spelling, this was the message:
I really wanted to kiss you when I was saying bye to you at the station but got scared … Just thought I’d tell you.
Twenty-four words that completely changed things.
If you’ve been keeping up with The Hell Butterfly you may have seen my description of our ‘maybe date’. It was really nice, a lot more comfortable than the first time we met, and he ended up holding my hand at the cinema. Looking first at this, I have to say how big a thing this was for me. In the grand scheme of things, holding hands is maybe not something to make a deal of, but for me, who had never considered I could ever have a meaningful romantic connection with anyone, holding hands with a guy for the first time in my life was big. It took me by pleasant surprise. I was both nervous and excited. With this in mind, let’s consider the message.
Only one person in my life has ever told me they had wanted to kiss me. For those who remember, this was T. For those who don’t, he was the only person to ever ask me out just over 4 1/2 years ago. He had told me this just 16 days after we met – because yes I do remember the exact number of days. He said he’d been too scared to ask if I’d want to but that he had wanted to nonetheless. In that scenario I’m glad he didn’t. I was starting to like him, but his asking me out before I was ready put me off and stopped that emotional development. If he had have asked me I would have been incredibly uncomfortable.
It is similar with M24. Though we have known each other a lot longer – 3 months now – I would still have been beyond shocked had he gone in for the kiss he told me last night that he had wanted to go in for.
I was unsure how to react. When I got the text through my jaw fell open and everything stopped. I could barely think of anything besides “Oh shit”. There was a part of me that was excited, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was terrified. It took a little while for that to reveal itself. The idea that somebody, a real live flesh and blood guy, wants to kiss me .. it’s simply not a concept I have ever understood. With T, it was different. It made me uncomfortable because there had been no time for an emotional connection to be made before he told me. With M24, I’ve begun to trust him, really do like him, and am starting to believe that he likes me too. It sounds ridiculous that I can sit here and say I’m only just believing it when he has told me more than once that he likes me. But it’s never been something I have had any reason to believe before.
I don’t want to let him down. I don’t want to let myself down. But I’m terrified.
With no prior experience, there’s no surprise I am, as I’m sure it’s natural. But I know me, I know my head, I know my issues. I know what it’s like to live with anxieties so strong that I have a minor panic attack at the thought of buying a bus ticket. So blow it up to the idea that somebody wants to kiss me, and even more so consider what would have happened if he had leaned in .. I know what would have happened. Having been pleasantly surprised at the hand-holding, there was no way I had expected him to want to kiss me. If he had have gone in for it without warning, I would have flinched away. It would have been unintentional, but someone taking me off guard and appearing in my personal space – in public no less – for something that intimate would have made me back up. I would have offended him accidentally. I don’t want to hurt him. I’m terrified every second that I’m going to.
Having now had the time to reflect, to take it in, I’m still scared. I think I’m getting more excited, but I can’t wrap my head around this. I can’t seem to process the fact a real, handsome guy not only likes me, but wants to see me again even after I thought I’d messed up (again) and had considered kissing me. It’s not something that makes sense to me. I keep asking the question: why? What is it he sees in me? Why has he known me this long, why has he met me twice, and not left? It’s a foreign concept and I hate that I can’t understand it. It should make me incredibly excited and very happy, which it is starting to, but I am terrified for no real reason other than I’ve never done this before and I don’t want to mess it up. I like this guy and I don’t want to hurt him. I don’t want to mess him around, but I don’t know how to do it right. I know everybody has this the first time, but it feels more than just ‘first love nerves’. I’m nervous all the time, and with this on top, it’s just hard to comprehend.
I’m scared. I’m a little excited, but I’m scared. Even if I can get my head around the idea, and even be willing to give it a go if he still wants to kiss me next time we meet .. I’m scared of confrontation. Of any kind. I’m worried that no amount of mental preparation is going to make it easier for me if he breaks the boundary into my personal space. I’ve seen it on tv tens of thousands of times. I know instinct should kick in. It shouldn’t be that difficult, and at any rate M24 knows I’ve never done it before. But I don’t want to offend him by flinching. He tells me I don’t have to do anything I don’t want to. He respects me enough for that. But if I can get comfortable with the idea in my head, when it comes to the real deal I can’t know how I’ll react. It’s terrifying because I don’t want to lose him.
Last night I couldn’t sleep. I had a panic attack because all of the things I’ve mentioned in this post were cycling through my mind at once. What if I mess up? What if I lose him? I want to take risks. I have to take risks. I want to think it’s less scary with M24 but really I can’t tell. I’ve never been great at knowing what emotions I’m feeling. True when I’m down I know, when I’m truly happy or angry beyond telling I know. But when it comes to relationships I don’t know whats going on in my head. I might be so excited that my occipital lobe is doing the hula, but I’m so anxious about everything that it becomes a blur.
I think I’m ready to take the next step in my life but theory and practice are worlds apart. I’m glad he didn’t try and kiss me last week. But can I really prepare myself to be ready for it next time? I don’t pick up on signals, not romantic ones. How will I know what the right thing to do or say is when I can barely hold a conversation? I spend so much of my time trying not to show that I’m anxious that I miss what he says and have to get him to repeat it. I constantly feel like I’m annoying him, because I’m annoyed with myself. He might not think anything of it but it annoys me so I assume it gets to him too.
I’ve gone on for a while, and could probably go on for longer still if I let myself. But really this post was necessary. I had to get it off my chest in words that I couldn’t use when I spoke to my family about the text and couldn’t use with my best-friend when I told him I was confused and upset. My mind is like a tornado has ripped through it. Nothing makes much sense to me. It’s loud up there. And just like if I were faced by a real tornado, I’m shit-scared. That fear is crippling. And the worst part is, I don’t know how to explain any of this to M24 without going on about it too much and having him think I talk about myself too much. There are two people in this ‘relationship’ and in my own fear I’m forgetting his.
It’s hard. Wish me luck in the future, short and long term. I think I’ll need it. That and some serious mental preparation.