When you are here I want you gone, and when you are gone I want you here – we only just hang together, you and I. The push-pull energy between us is an uneasy equilibrium, always ready to explode, or implode.
Without you I can expand into the day, read outside in the late afternoon sun, have toast and tea for dinner, find time to play. I can be free of the force of your anxiety that keeps pulling us, and pushing us, through our day –
Hurtling towards what? I ask you
Rest, you grumble.
Death, I say.
(Careful, don’t be in too much of a hurry…)
Tonight you thunder-storm into our warm little kitchen and my heart pales grey because I can see that you are upset and need to fight. So I slow my breath, and calm my voice, and try harder to love, and say,
– You’ve come in a bit grumpy. Why don’t you just try to relax?
But you don’t want to relax. You need to throw off your uncomfortable feelings, and the best way you know how is to push them into me.
– Relax? you say, how can I relax, when I’ve been running around all day?
And so it goes…and as the poison flows I see that words won’t help, and finally I snap –
(Who is that crazy lady screaming, me?)
It’s a conscious decision – most of the time – and it seems to work better than patience (I know that’s a lie). But by your own admission you’re a scorpion who can’t help but sting, and I know you won’t back off until I make you.
(Oh why do I have to make you? Why can’t you see that I’m not angry with you, I’m not scared of you, I’m not fighting with you – I’m just trying to figure out how to make you stop! Why won’t you stop?)
Perhaps it’s because it feels too good to stop…
Now we circle each other like two fighting dogs with our minds, teeth bared, hair bristling, both of us eyeing the jugular.
How I wish it could be different. How I long to arch my pale white neck and place the sharp blade in your trustworthy hands – I think I could do it, if you would; you wish you could, but can’t. In the end, vulnerability is ill-advised with you.
It used to be more of a game, an explosive break-up and make-up. Now the problem is that if we go down, we take our little ones with us. And their eyes go so scarily wide when you scream, and even wider when I lose it. Their innocence keeps us honest and, at the edge of the cliff, just sane enough not to step off –
I grab your face and search your eyes, trying to draw out the good person I know suffers in there. A moment of clarity flashes between us and in its painful glare we glimpse our love lying shredded at our feet. We realize we are naked, that we have stripped each other bare, and are ashamed.
This is such a dangerous dance.
I take your hand and we carefully back away –