"The beast in me
Has had to learn to live with pain
And how to shelter from the rain
And in the twinkling of an eye
Might have to be restrained
God help the beast in me"
I got myself well and truly drunk last night, which didn’t help nearly as much as all the commercials promise that it will. Steve’s love for me is true, and honest; that much is plain to see. And the fact that I do not love him in return is a daily hurt in his soul. What I can’t seem to make him understand is that my heart isn’t my own to give away – if it was, I would gladly give it to him. He’s a good and decent man. He is kind, and generous, and able to understand my moods, sometimes even before I understand them myself. But his love is a daily dagger to my heart. When he tells me that he loves me before I go off to work in the morning, I wonder what I should say in return. I could say “I don’t love you, Steve”, and though it would be true, it would be cruel. I could lie and say “I love you too,” knowing that I speak a lie… but would that be any less cruel? I think not. So I smile and say nothing, because knowing I am loved is soothing to my soul, but anything that I could say would only return his kindness with callousness.
I fell asleep crying, and dreamed strange dreams. There was a hotel in the wilderness, and Trae had brought me, and several other unnamed companions to it. There was an entryway with a carport, under which it was constantly raining, even on sunny days. Beside the hotel was a small diner with glass windows on every side, where the waitresses know your order before you say it, and bring you what your heart secretly wants. Between the two was a pasture filled to the spilling-point with wildflowers of all kinds. To call the meadow "green" would be an insult to shamrocks and limes the world over. This was some magical Socratic uber-Green. A green-beyond-green. There were horses in that pasture painted vibrant, eye-wrenching shades of blues and violet, with eyes that sparkled like gemstones. And that’s where Trae disappeared one day, while I was eating Belgian waffles smothered in raspberries and whipped cream in the diner. I looked up from my dessert-breakfast to see that he wasn’t seated across from me any longer. Poof. Gone. I looked around in a panic, but could not see him anywhere. Outside the windows of the diner, the doors of the hotel lobby hung open like an idiotic grin. The mauve and chartreuse horses in the meadow looked at me with accusatory, sparkling eyes. I raced out of the diner without paying, one shoe-lace flapping untied and unnoticed to my dream-self, shouting his name. Somehow I knew (in the way that one simply knows things in dreams) he wasn’t inside the hotel, so I looked around for some way to follow him down the highway. I don’t know how to ride a horse, and jumpstarting a car and stealing it was unthinkable. So I sat down under the raining entryway to the hotel and cried my heart out.
I woke up with a blinding headache, feeling completely unrested. Steve was still asleep on the couch, though I’m not sure if he actually got any rest at all on that thing. While I bathed this morning, he fixed coffee and brought a cup to me in the bathtub. I noticed that he was careful to avert his eyes as he handed the cup to me around the edge of the bathtub curtain. Like I said, he is a good man. He does things for me daily which are so obviously done out of love that I am embarrassed when he does them, but what should I do – refuse the coffee that he made for me? I learned yesterday that he now shaves his beard only in the evenings, just because one time while we kissed I mentioned that he gave me a bit of “stubble burn”. Should I tell him to start shaving in the mornings again? I seem faced with an almost childish set of impossible alternatives. Either I spurn everything he does, simply because I know the motives behind them; or I accept his almost limitless gifts, help, advice, comfort, and companionship – glad for the offerings, but unable to return the affection behind them. I find myself more often than not accepting his love-gifts, and acceptance makes me the worst kind of monster. I devour everything he gives me, and at the same time keep my heart at a distance from his. How can I make him see that he gives all these things to such a beast of a woman? And would I make him see it even if I could? It would mean pushing him away, out of my life entirely. And to be honest, I don’t know that I could do that either. I do care for him, and am grateful beyond words for what he’s done for me. Is pushing him away from me really the best thing for him? Or for me? It seems even that choice would hurt the both of us.
What a beast I am.