I am an island.
I remember when he told me I was cold-hearted. A prude. I just want to know what you’re thinking is all. He added “is all”, every time he was about to say something insensitive, every time he was about to be an asshole. As if the ‘is all’ helped lighten the blow.
I wanted to change for him, I really did. I wanted to be the girl that was open. The girl who wore her heart on her sleeve and cried when she was happy – but I wasn’t happy. Being with him was exhausting. It was painful. It was draining. To come away from my natural tendency to isolate, to spend hours alone completely content, to spend most of my free time with him because he was afraid to be alone with his mind… I felt myself dying, and I knew that was not what love was supposed to feel like. Though I know I loved him, I remember that feeling. For a split second I wanted to be with him forever – but not without my island.
I was afraid to take a step from the shore, to merge two lives together forever. That word sent chills down my spine. I didn’t realize it then, when he told me I confused him, when he told me I was cold-hearted. A prude because I wouldn’t have sex with him. But I know it now. Forever with him would have been like water consistently eroding all that I had built for myself. He was abrasive. He wanted more and more time, he wanted me to fill holes that existed in him. As I worked to be that person for him, I felt chunks of my own self falling away. This is not love. Love is not cutting away at yourself to patch up someone else from the very beginning. Love is a mutual feeling of being alive, not feeling like there is a leech on your back.
When I told him I loved him, he told me it was the best day of his life.
When I told him I wanted to end things, because being with him was painful, he said it was the worst day of his life.
I am an island.
I haven’t felt as secure as I do on my island. I know who I am and what I want in this life. I know that I love helping others, and compassion and kindness is what I want to give. I know that I am capable of being warm and open, because I have felt safer with others. I have been able to tell my friends I love them, I have been able to form friendships with people who inspire me. I threw myself into my school work after the break up. I threw, and continue to throw, myself into my art. I signed up to volunteer as a rape crisis victim’s advocate. I’ve seen the Dalai Lama speak. I’ve gotten into psychology honor societies and visited my dream graduate school. And guess what? My island is not so lonely. I am whole. I feel so alive. I have felt rushes of happiness and a freedom that never washed over me in his presence. I am continually told that I am kind, I am compassionate. In the midst of a gossip ridden retail job, I have been told that I am “real”. I am honest, when some around me live with two faces on, I do not.
I am an island.
And I know now that there is nothing wrong with that. I don’t struggle to be warm, I struggle to be warm to the wrong people. I feel like there is someone watching out for me, because there have always been people that I have never been able to open up to, no matter how badly I wanted to open up, my heart would not fully let them in. Always in retrospect, I have seen that I have only ever been right. There are reasons certain people don’t find their ways into my heart, while others do. Those who have joined me on my island, through music and art, writing and the like, have found permanent places in my heart. They have yet to hurt me. They have yet to feel like leeches on my skin. And I love those people. Together, we will always create great music and stories and inspire each other.
I will always keep them close.