Contagious is the first word that comes to mind—his mere presence is like a needle that surges vivacity through the veins of those around him. I was struck, immediately. Our time together was not long, but for a brief moment, he turned me inside out. He even offered to fly me upside down. He overwhelmed my amplified mind and senses and tasted my inchoate heart with a smirk of delight. He got me to talk about things in a way I never had before and gave me my first insight into emotional expression. He painted my doubts with warning signs and then told me to wash them all away. He challenged me to overcome his terrifying honesty with confidence and trust.
Our days rolled on and we began to unleash and discover more and more about each other—he said he liked me because I was strong, kind, intelligent, powerful and adorable.
I liked him because he staggered me—mind, body and soul—and then he made me tell him why.
However, no matter how confident I am, I’ve realized it is my trust that I cannot share or spare with just anyone. After three weeks of baring my soul for hours upon hours, I found myself stuck and confused at the site of my own caution tape, staring into my own crime scene. The dilemma: If I choose to tear down the tape and trust this guy with my emotions for however long, then I would also be choosing an inevitable heartbreak. Is it worth it, I wondered?
On the other hand, I could choose to keep my trust away from the crime scene and never investigate my mysteriously, intriguing and/or frustrating emotional case.
In the end, I decided that it is not healthy to constantly protect myself from the hardships that lead to personal growth (in this case, a broken heart). I was ready to overcome my fear of embracing my emotional fears. But first, I had to run this newfound evidence by the main suspect.
I brought my dilemma to my Swiss boyfriend’s attention and, as always, he helped me sort it out in the most honest and sincere way.
With the most natural look in his eyes he said, “I know you’re not the one.” It was almost like he delivered this kind of news weekly…maybe he does. (***)
As ready as I was to rip down that tape and give it my all regardless of the outcome, these words slashed my emotional bravery to its death.
I had an immediate flashback to the moment I met him. There he was—cool and collected on his revolving bar stool, puffing his cigarette with an immodest gaze and extending his greetings with a nonchalant confidence. He offered my party of three just enough attention to feel immediately comfortable in this new, unfamiliar venue.
As our conversation began to ripple, I asked him what he did for a living.
“I’m a gypsy,” he said with warning.
I wanted to run. I should have.
Now we’re in his kitchen—our voices echo across the pale, cement walls as he continues to coach my emotions. Meanwhile, I am frantically searching for the inner strength he hid from me when we first met. Suddenly, I am ambushed by a feeling of disappointment, sadness and rejection–it took hold of my insides, squeezing my veins and pumping the bloody feeling from head to toe. I somehow managed to slap on a pseudo “kori-is-strong” face for the thirty minutes it took me to gather my things and walk to the station. I hugged him goodbye while I muttered some measly thank yous, hiding my sadness behind a stage of humor. And with a triple-Swiss kiss, I was finally left to sort through and savor my own thoughts.
Train-travel reflection has to be the most beautiful kind of remedy to emotional uproar because surprisingly, it only took me a little over an hour to cycle through the entire grieving process—denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance (not in that order). What came next was the art of optimism—probably the only thing I have ever mastered in this life.
Turns out, I was too kind and too friendly for this Swiss boy. As he puts it, “not strong enough for him.” He is forever wild, but wants to be tamed. He gets distracted so he needs to be constantly dazzled. He gets bored so he needs to be inspired. Meanwhile, I will always be just me. I will entertain and inspire as naturally as it comes, but I will never hold a harness for anyone.
Nevertheless, in three weeks my Swiss boyfriend taught me how to put my heart first, because despite my never-ending apprehensions about disclosing how I feel in the moment, every feeling is better heard than solely felt. He listened to me with such candor–never trying to problem solve, invalidate or console–just listened. He also made me promise never to keep things to myself again and I intend to keep that promise with or without him.
I further realized that until I can offer out my trust, my heart cannot be broken. All caution tape aside, my heart thumps a sigh of relief for this. Now I know how to have brief relationships without being consumed by the dooming awareness of the inevitable pain that could follow. The tape is not protecting me from an emotional experience, but it is protecting the purity of my emotional trust. Since that seems to be what I’m saving then from here on out, I asseverate from experience to never think twice before falling, but to always think thrice before trusting.
***It is important to note, I was not seeking to be “his one” but after hearing these words, I felt hopeless in even pretending–that is what relationships are all about, right? Pretending to be soul mates until you realize you’re not pretending…or you always will be?