There’s no better feeling than when he looks at me and smiles that smile. His whole face lights up, his eyes sparkle, joyful. Our dance is synced, our rhythm steady. To experience the lilt in his laugh is to know the purest kind of love and in that moment, when I am his, I know it is the closest to heaven I’ll ever get while still here on earth.
Just as quickly as his lips turn up and his nose crinkles, thunder crashes and in an instant, everything changes. Disgust sets in on his face. I can’t do anything right. He won’t look at me when I talk to him. I exist in a perpetual state of confusion. What did I do wrong this time?
I can’t imagine our relationship is healthy. Are there others like us? There must be, but part of me is afraid to ask. His constant push and pull is an aggressive two-step; my ceaseless worry, waiting–always waiting–for the other shoe to drop, is a useless pirouette. But when things are right between us, it’s as though we move to music only we can hear. There’s a security I don’t feel with anyone else. Arms locked, loving one another, we are so good.
Until we’re not.
The other night, he was yelling for no reason. Again. I breathed deeply and tried to be patient and not take it personally. But everything is personal, especially recently. Our days are so busy that we barely have time for one another, but they’re filled with the things he enjoys! Doesn’t that count for something? Even our evenings are dedicated to what he likes, places he wants to go. But he seems to forget all that the second I can’t give him the next thing he wants. I’m exhausted, battered. His words, his eyes, cut deep. Don’t take it personally.
To my surprise, he’s been crying a lot lately. This is in stark contrast to his usual standoff with feelings. I’d learned to anticipate and manage his refusal to acknowledge emotions, then he flipped the script and suddenly, his heart started bleeding. How was I to know he felt things so deeply, so viscerally, when he never shared them with me? I came to expect his throwing things, sometimes breaking things. It made sense when he would turn his back on me. I understood his smirk when he pushed me to the limit, seemingly reveling in his accomplishment. But this? This need, his physical requirement, to never be more than an arm’s length away has got me stuck in a kind of intellectual and emotional purgatory. Just this morning I woke up to him staring at me. It’s like he can’t bare to be awake without me.
He’s exceptionally needy as of late, too. Almost clingy. But this is how he shows me love, exposes his soft underbelly, and I feel grateful he trusts me with it. This baring of the soul can make anyone feel vulnerable, but it absolutely terrifies him. So I let him cling and cry and watch me while I sleep because I know he needs me to let him.
There is torture in our dance. He is an enigma on a good day and a nightmare on the bad days, but he is beautiful and he is mine and so I dance.
With his tenth birthday came a rainstorm of emotions that neither of us was ready for, and so for now, I dance in the rain.