To My Love,
You know, next friday marks our 15th anniversary. It's a bit surreal when you think about it. I honestly can't believe that we've lasted this long, given how much things have changed over the years.
I often think back to the first time we met. It's one of the most vivid memories of my youth. And to think, I met you on the bus home from school of all places. It does seem a bit silly, doesn't it? The bus was packed with fed up, restless students whose stenches embodied the essence of the start of summer break. They were shouting at each other, reaching over the seats to chat with and grab their friends, unable to contain their excitement. They were prepared for hot sun that would beat down on the necks of all of us, our hair and faces dripping with sweat as we savored every moment outside of the stress of class and the discomfort of being strapped to a desk. I was ready to join in with their excitement up until the moment my eyes fell upon you sitting in the aisle, staring back at me. You beckoned to me, standing up to offer me your seat. I hesitated a moment before taking it. I didn't want you to think that I expected you do it, but I also didn't want to come off rude. I got settled in for the ride, when you brushed up against my shoulder. In that moment, everything changed.
Time stopped, kind of. The kids around us kept moving; kept shouting; kept bouncing up and down, waiting for the bus to take them home. But us... we stopped. The shouting couldn't reach my ears. If I was being grabbed, my body didn't respond. The stench of youth couldn't penetrate that moment. For that length of time, however long it may have actually been, it was just me and you. And from then on, things were different. I didn't want to be like the rest of them. I didn't want to go outside and hang out with classmates, or friends. I wanted you. I wanted you to engulf me in your presence. You were the only one I needed; the only one I wanted. When I had you, the rest of the world didn't feel as important. I didn't need to be the best student, or the best athlete, or the best anything, because no matter how things got, I could always depend on you. That moment was a kind of 'love at first touch' situation, if you'll pardon the cliché. And you've been with me ever since.
You were there on the first day of middle school, when I was going to a place where I didn't know a single person from before. You stood by me when I couldn't make friends. You looked out for me when people tried to use me for their own gain. You didn't want to see me get hurt by the outside world. You held me in a tight embrace when I needed to cry. You stayed with me throughout high school, pulling my hand to keep me moving through. You taught me how to make my mask. I've kept it, you know. My mask. I've updated it now and again to change to the situation I need it for, but it's the same one you helped with years ago. You showed me the intricacies of deception; of making it through the day without people glancing at me constantly, wondering what was wrong with me. You taught me never to take off the mask, save for when I'm with you of course. You even came with me to college, making sure that I never wavered in the face of a new world. You kept my mask from breaking when times got rough. You wouldn't let me sacrifice who I am for the sake of making a bunch of random people like me better.
Even now, you're still with me, although I have slipped away to come and write you this letter. And in your absence I can't help but read over these words and gain a foul taste in my mouth. This is not the truth. This is not my truth. This is you. This is your work. You have used me as your source of life since that day on the bus.
There was no 'love at first touch'. It was fear. Time stopped because the moment you brushed my shoulder, I was engulfed in terror. I couldn't move. My body froze. My eyes fixated upon your dark gaze as you came closer to me, peering deep into the core of my being, grabbing hold of whatever independence and potential I had, making it your own. My excitement left me because you sucked it straight from its source, replacing it instead with an inability to cope. It's not that I didn't want to play with my classmates. I physically couldn't. Every time I tried to leave you pulled me closer, whispering lies and sweet nothings into my ear to keep me from getting away.
You never cared for me; never wanted to keep me safe. You knew that you could drag me down further away from others, widening the gap between me and the outside world. You kept me from befriending others. You created a sense of paranoia in the deepest parts of me. I gained a fear that they were all out to get me. Within me you planted your seeds of doubt, and the have continued to blossom ever since. The mask. The deception. The lies. The fear. The terror. The trembling. The shaking. The panic. The nervousness. These are the tools of your trade. With these tools you have created me. You have been the role model that has guided my lack of growth and inability to gain independence. You are the one who has held me captive for so long that I truly believe that I have fallen in love with you. You have made love and terror inseparable in my essence, and I know that when you find me, you will have your way with me. And I won't be able to help but enjoy it. Ah, that sounds like you at the door, I suppose you'll read this. I wonder what you'll think. Alas, with these parting words, I bid you adieu:
Anxiety, thou art a cruel mistress. One that I cannot escape.