He thinks I hate him, I learned from a friend yesterday.
It’s so untrue, it’s heartbreaking. The sucky truth is that I love him more than anything. If I didn’t, I could move on without so many episodes of crying, blogging, begging for his empathy.
I shouldn’t be surprised. Every conversation between us seems to run through a translation machine in which I say, “Hey? Remember me? Remember our love? Can we have an honest discussion about us?” and he hears “You’re ugly and worthless.” His inner voice, in other words, masquerading as my voice.
That same inner voice of his that apparently says, “Either you’re a woman or you have to commit suicide. There is no other way that you are worth anything. Either you spend hours every day altering your appearance or you are loathsome to look at. Better keep up this illusion or die.”
I don’t agree with it. I think it’s ok to have XY chromosomes and male sex organs while wanting to wear a dress. I think it’s so ok, as to be insignificant. He loves himself conditionally, but I just love him.
I think he’s beautiful, with long hair or short. With a beard or without. With dirt under his nails, working in the yard, in jeans that are too big because he’s trying to hide the weight he gained from all the pasta and wine we enjoyed together when we lived in the country and couldn’t get out to see friends. With the Chucks and skinny pants he gravitated toward when he lost the weight. With his laughing eyes, his serious eyebrows, the spacing of his teeth. I think he’s beautiful, and I don’t care what he says.
I love the way we used to talk for hours and the conversations we used to have. About recurring themes in literature and media and what they say about Western concerns and fears. About whether determinism precludes holding people accountable for their actions. About sentience and how it is acquired and whether everyone has it. Smart conversations. Conversations that took years to develop and refine. Conversations I could have only had with him, with his intelligence, with his personality. I love the less serious conversations we had too, like when we made up words from town names on road trips or pretended to argue endlessly about butterflies versus moths.
I love the romance we’ve had. I’ll never forget the time we tried to have a picnic in relentless, pouring rain, but ended up walking around in the woods, drenched, falling in love instead. I cherish other picnics as well, when he packed salad and fruit and bread and cheese and wine into a basket and met me in a park on my birthday or during my lunch hour. I love the memory of lying on the ground, playing with each other’s hair at a summer music festival.
I love that he always appeared to love me, even the parts of me that were awkward or odd. My accent. The way I get words tangled. The way I looked when I got chubby. I love the poems he wrote about me. I love an email he wrote me when I first went back to college, telling me that he believed in me and that I was smart and that I could do it. I laminated it and kept it in my wallet for years. I love how much thought he put into gifts that he has given me and dates that he has taken me on. I love that he has shown me the most epic birthday parties ever.
I love how charitable and kind he has always been and how he loves people of all shapes and sizes and races and how he doesn’t bat an eye at a young single mom wrangling several kids and how he gives money to street beggars. I love how much pride he took in his work when he was teaching kids.
I love how creative he is and the songs and lyrics he’s written and his singing voice.
I love his cooking and I love eating with him. I love the way he values ceremony and family. I love the red wine glasses we picked out together for special occasions. I love planning where we’ll put our garden and what we’ll grow in it. I love that he knows how to preserve food and make kimchi and that he keeps us in canned pickles and tomatoes all winter long. I love snapping beans with him on the porch.
I love the way we vacation. Hours on a beach, spacing out, thinking about nothing except taking a break to grill some shrimp and open a bottle of wine. Camping trips that felt like they would never end. Walking in the woods and taking note of every rabbit, raccoon, squirrel, lizard, woodpecker or deer. Bed and breakfasts, state park buffets, sketchy hot tubs. Content to walk the city streets, visit a museum or stay in and pop popcorn and watch seventies reruns on TV. I love being in a canoe with him, riding a bike with him, walking with him.
I love the mole on the back of his neck.
I love him. I can never hate him.
I have learned I can’t win him over by requesting his empathy. Can I win him over with love? Can I win him over by sending him this? Maybe I really haven’t made my love clear enough.
I can’t seem to stop putting myself out there, hoping to save this.
Maybe I have to do it again, just in case. Maybe I’m learning what Sade meant by “Love is stronger than pride.”
Maybe I have to do it forever until I humiliate myself, until he tells me to get lost, until I die. Maybe that’s what this love requires of me.