Twice in her life, she has been told, “I feel like I am walking on eggshells around you.” Coincidentally, both times have been by people she loved and trusted the most. A part of her knew there was a connection between her and being told that, but she couldn’t stop blaming the world. How could it be her fault when she’s the one who suffers the most? People never thought about how she felt. They never thought about how she doesn’t want to feel this way.
She has tried to explain how horribly exhausting it was. She has tried a thousand times to explain the way it cripples her. Feeling hatred sprouting for the people she loved, feeling hot flashes of anger only for it to fall away to ecstasy. No emotion felt real, but every emotion felt eternal. Well, up until about an hour later when she wouldn’t even be able to recall how she was feeling. It reminded her of the process of rain; descending droplets caressing her skin, falling hail stinging her body. Once a cloud rid itself of all of the water it held, it went away. One does not remember an individual cloud. The worst days were the ones with no clouds. Those days there was a disconnect. A flippancy of life, indifference replacing impassion.
It was one of those days. As her boyfriend droned on, she couldn’t get herself to focus. They were driving home. It was a good day. Coffee date, smiles, roses. Despite that, an overwhelming emptiness consumed her. It was suffocating, eating away at her heart and mind until there was nothing left. The shift in emotions depressed her further. The car window showed a clear sky, but she still wondered if it was going to rain today. She hoped it would, the constant pitter-patter lulled her into a sense of familiarity and comfort.
“Are you even listening?” Her boyfriend’s words sharpened her mind, snapping her out of her musing. Those words triggered something inside of her, a pit forming at the bottom of her stomach.
She turned her head towards him, he was frowning. She hated to ruin a good day, so she tried to put a smile on her face, “Of course I am.”
“Okay, then what did I just say?” He stared at her with a raised eyebrow. It wasn’t a busy road, but he probably still should’ve been paying more attention.
“You said, ‘Are you listening?’ Also, eyes on the road.”
He wasn’t amused by that, at all. His eyes shifted back to the road, and she could see that he clenched his jaw. Welp, the day was bad for both of them now. Here we go again. “What?” She snapped.
It was cruel of her to think this way, she knew that. But in her mind, it felt like if he didn’t accept everything about her - if he didn’t accept it without complaint or frustration - then there was no way he could love her. Then there was no one for her, and that she was unloveable. The insecurity poked holes into her mind. It was like seeing her whole world ripped apart in front of her over and over every time someone was upset at her.
At some point, your brain builds this moat around itself to protect you from the pain. It’s like she was able to throw emotions and thoughts over the moat and close the drawbridge. Tucking yourself carefully into the castle, you can hide. But when the rain came pouring down, as it often did, it flooded the carefully crafted moat. Everything comes swimming through, unstoppable. It consumes everything in its path - you can only plead that it’s positive emotions that make you feel infinite. That was rarely the case, though. It was a faulty, incoherent system of protection.
And when this flood came, it was not positive emotions.
“You know ‘what.’ You never listen to what I’m saying. Ever. And on top of that, you always hate when I’m not listening. Which, by the way, happens way less often than when you do it,” he rambled at her. God forbid she takes time to think to herself. She closed her eyes to count to ten and back. She was short-circuiting, she could only think of mean things to say as the growing feeling of distaste towards her boyfriend came. This was the worst part. The hate felt so natural, felt so real. Like she always had felt this way. It hurt to feel, but it felt so good to express. At least it did until the flood calmed and she had to pick up the broken pieces left behind.
She took a deep breath and said, “I’m sorry I wasn’t listening. Can you repeat what you were talking about before?”
He snorted humorlessly, keeping his eyes on the road. “Absolutely not. I’m tired of doing that.”
There was a downpour of hail in her mind. She clenched her fists in her lap and faced him as much as her seatbelt allowed. The friction of the seatbelt further irritated her. She wanted to scream at him. “Are you fucking kidding me? I said I was sorry.”
“Are you fucking kidding me? Sorries don’t fix anything. Especially when you don’t change.” He looked at her for a second with his own pure anger before remembering to look back to the road. What a skill it would be to be able to speak so eloquently while emotions swirled in you.
“I’m trying, okay?” It was her go-to-line, but it was true. She didn’t want to be like this. The creeping feeling of self-hatred pricked her skin. Why couldn’t she be a better person? Always so caught up in herself, and what she was feeling. But if she didn’t pay attention to herself like that, who would? She couldn’t trust anyone to understand, and this was proof of that.
Under his breath, he muttered, “Yeah, trying to be insufferable.”
Her mouth fell open at that. All rage left her body, even faster than the pace in which it came, and she was left feeling nothing but an ache. Facing away from him, she curled in on herself against the passenger seat’s door. It felt like shards of her heart were piercing the surrounding organs. She sniffled. Oh my god, she was pathetic. She wanted to scream at herself. Get a grip. Comfort him, this isn’t about you. But this new form of pain, at that simple little comment, immobilized her. It was always “But, but, but” with her, she thought bitterly. This bone-deep sadness created a sense of emptiness. The clouds were still gray from the storm, but they were floating away.
Her boyfriend glanced at her, hearing her sniffle. His anger also faded, and he took one of his hands off the steering wheel to rest on her thigh. His eyes were gentle as they flickered back and forth between her and the road. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean that, I promise. I’m just…tired. Tired of it being like this. Today was supposed to be the perfect day.”
That made her feel so much worse. “No, I’m sorry. You deserve better.”
He didn’t respond to that. She twisted more into herself, but he moved his hand from her thigh to rest on her arm. The position was awkward, but it was comforting that he still wanted to touch her. That he wasn’t completely disgusted by her. Yet.
“Oh, hey, look. The clouds are getting dark. I think it might rain. Maybe that’ll cheer you up,” he tried to smile at her, but it was forced.
“It already rained,” she whispered. Her voice was so quiet she wondered if he heard. The confused look on his face said he did, but he didn’t say anything. They drove in silence the rest of the way home.