Today, at this small hour of the night, a window opened through the shell.
As I told you, I wish the world was different, I truly do.
In a parallel universe, I would know how to express my feelings with both words and actions. I would know how to tell you that I recognize your pain, that I am honored by your trust, that I am sad for your past struggles and that I am joyful for these few moments we allowed ourselves to spend together.
In another parallel universe—it could be the same, or another—I would have held you, shared warmth and strength; I would have said with confidence that I knew you would feel better over time, and I would have reminded you of the strength and beauty you have reached already.
In that universe, I would also have dared touch your face, and I would have dared to ask: what are we doing? What would you like this to become? What can I do for you?
In this universe, I have instead fenced myself in a system of beliefs and principles that defend me and keep me strong. For example, I entertain the notion that a friend sharing a moment of vulnerability is not a moment for me to let my feelings run the show, lest I may be overcome by them, become unable to stay strong, become unable to provide the conforting and trustable presence that enabled the situation in the first place. Moreso when inebriation is involved. In truth, I am afraid that letting myself open emotionally to the situation would amount to abusing the situation to my advantage, with or without realizing.
It is said, and I have observed, that humans never get older than when they first became self-conscious, early in their teenage years. Their bodies do. Inside, we remain the same children forever, with all their deepest fears, inclinations, dreams, creativity, sensitivities. We accumulate knowledge and experience, social status, muscle memory, inhibitions, we may discover more about ourselves, but that does not change who we are.
And in this universe, the truth is that certain circumstances broke my ability to trust at that age, when things crystallize.
You asked for the truth, and I offered the truth of a shell that I built over the years—or rather, that found itself built for me. I, underneath, did not truly change; for I know that some experiences open temporary windows, for example today. I offered the truth of abandoning desires and aspirations, stunted from the presence of a protective shell. And then you asked for examples.
At that moment, however, I was tense. The metaphorical shields were up, and I was actively busy managing my feelings, to not endanger the moment we were sharing. I did no trust neither the situation nor myself to provide an adequate and safe platform for me to answer you honestly. I never truly have, in fact—it’s not just you.
Naturally, the truth I offered instead was not a lie either. I have, in fact, buried a certain dose of youthful rebellion and generosity, and I do not spend as much time or effort as I would like working on fixing the fixable. It was a truthful answer to your apparent request, but it was altogether irrelevant to the situation, to my emotional state and to your real enquiry. Additionally, realizing my answer was so oblique made me angry at myself, disappointed in my combined lack of experience, lack of courage and overall emotional confusion. I also did not lie when I said you make me feel, a lot. I just do not know nor understand what this makes possible, the current circumstances seemingly prevent any further determination, and I do not know any good words to share.
In another universe, some things are probably a little easier. In this universe, I merely hope to someday meet someone who looks at me and knows who I am, what I want. I want it to feel like I am waking up, over and over again. And sometimes, like then, you make me believe this hope may not be irrational. This is what I then truly wanted to share.