A letter to the aether
Dear Slimer -
I truly enjoy your company and I miss you. I hope you’re getting what you need. I wish you would let me provide some of it. You’re “genetically bad at communicating,” which is nonsense. All you had to do is send one text. “Happy New Year too!” Even better, “See you when you get back.” You could also have just come out and say you can’t see me any more and you would still be chalked up as a sweet experience instead of a torment. My uncertainty and your ignorance of the effect swirls into a cruel ulcer.
“Don’t be anxious, you don’t need to feel that way about me.” OK, then you don’t need to have episodes of depression, just talk yourself out of them. Yeah, exactly. Some things we cannot stop with the snap of a finger. Yes, it’s my anxiety to manage, but you contribute.
You drop a lot of breadcrumbs. You told me you like hanging out and you want to make me a bracelet and go on adventures and you’re not a player and you missed me and you’re not just wham bam and it’s ok that I text you and you don’t freak out easily and that you’re suuuuuper busy and you think about me every day and I believed all of it. I even believe you meant some of it. Those assurances and your blinding sexiness keep me hooked, but it’s dwarfed by thundering silence.
I don’t know how or why you went from “I won’t just disappear on you” “I would never just blow you off” and “I want to cook you my mom’s comfort food” to two weeks of silence, but my trust took a hit. Whatever’s keeping your distance, just say it, rather than “just be patient with me” and “Merry Christmas, Beautiful.” If you aren’t keeping distance, just willfully staying bad at communicating, just try.
I know you have a lot going on and I resisted making assumptions for as long as I could. I want to respect your space and issues and not be a burden or source of stress, but out here in the dark, it is too hard for me to keep throwing rocks at your window while never seeing a light. I saw a light in your eyes. I optimistically fantasized that you were as overwhelmed by the unexpected intensity of our intimacy as I was, and that you were hiding from those feelings because you weren’t ready for something more. Foolish, I know. You’re stuck in your head, where I wish I was. The game of pretending to be chill is childish and stupid. Life is too short. I want you and you can’t blame me for wanting more, or for wishing you also did. I’m not trying to own you, just spend time together.
You are so good at creating intimacy when you’re present. Safety. I had been in a particular mental trap for multiple relationships, and I am bold and comfortable with you in a way I only ever dreamed of. The Jerkbrain retreats and is silent. I feel free. I have nothing to be ashamed of. It sounds overdramatic, but it is sadly true. I want to free you as you did me. I can’t and won’t fix you, but I want to give you the gift of haven. That very first night I thought if this is how he is with someone he’s just fucking, he must be an amazing person to be truly close to, even as you waved a red flag right in my face. You may just have one narrow beam of focus at a time, but when I was in that beam, wow. I yearn to return the favor.
Subsequent nights were even better, richer. The satisfaction seemed mutual. I gave you what I have in abundance and which was all you craved. I would have given you so much more. I wanted to bask in you. I wanted to share my awesomeness with you. I have no hidden agenda. My ready and open heart is one of my best qualities — you seemed to be the same way.
I can see that you have been let down in profound ways by people who you should have trusted — your view of the world is naturally skewed by these early experiences, as mine is from my own. I want to show you that if nothing else, I am reliable, safe, trustworthy. Are you?
So you had all those family emergencies and were working like crazy and also sick and also holed up, depressed, but everyone has a minute in the bathroom to take care of business on their phones. Maybe you did think of me all the time, but keeping that to yourself doesn’t help me cross the desert of your silence to the next oasis, nor indicate if another would ever materialize. I warned you I was thirsty. You duly warned me you’d be absent a lot. I put my hand in the fire willingly, knowing you couldn’t give me much, but your words of generosity and connection kept my palm open over your flame. I did believe you, but I can’t let myself dehydrate hoping to find the next pond. I have to stop trying to cross the desert alone. My imagination makes it too difficult. This is the opposite of what I want, but it’s what I must do.
You leave so many questions unanswered. Not knowing makes me tug on your sleeve, which makes you edge away. I had no idea if you even got my Christmas card. You were touched by it, but did not respond. I meant what I wrote, but sitting, fidgeting in the dark, wondering, is like being covered by ants. My mind expands to fill a vacuum and goes into overdrive. I’m not sorry I got invested. I made excuses for the unknown (He’s depressed! He’s busy!) but the silent void only felt like dismissal. I want you, not the 100 versions of you I make up while I wait and wonder. I already miss you all the time, now I just have to stop hoping to hear back.
Except I still hope, all the time. That magic bubble you create for me, I want it. It will be your loss if you discard me because I am the magic bubble you need.
If we could talk about these things in person we might slowly develop something that benefits us both without stressing either of us out. Your scattered breadcrumbs of future adventures conceal your ghostly footprints out the door. Something changed while you have been away. If my eagerness caused that change, well, that’s your loss as much as mine. If it was caused by real emergency stuff, the resulting loss is the same. If you were still switched on, you could find 10 seconds to connect, even just to get comfort or an ego boost for yourself. You never rejected me, but I feel discarded nonetheless. It would have been kinder to just say goodbye. Your effortless return to my orbit assured me, but how long will that last, with your mercurial life?
I’m not too much, I am just me. Life is too short and the world is getting shittier all the time. We can have an oasis if you would just connect with me. Don’t say “you cross my mind every day” two days before you disappear for 13 days, just say farewell. You may be swamped with stuff and not actually dismissing me, but I am unable to manage my own uncertainty about it. If you can’t handle me, you can’t handle me. It doesn’t make you bad, but it does make me need to get over you. That’s a difficult task, because your effect on me is bigger than you know. I gave up and mourned three times during your absence, but your words I collected in a chest tugged at my flesh and kept me in your thrall.
I held on to a feeble hope that this was just an anxious hallucination and you would tell me something that restores my trust, and then there you were, saying “Happy New Year” seven days after my electronic kiss at midnight.
When you reappeared, you seemed again to justify my hopes. I should cut bait and accept there are no fish for me in your iced-over lake, only my reflection. But I see movement under the ice, dark and mysterious, and so I cut another hole and shiver at its edge, dangling my line. At least I know my bait is not the problem; that’s growth, at least.
You explained all that had been going on, but still, you could have said any of that a week ago. I am wrapped a little more tightly in my ice fishing tent, aching to pull you from the cold waters and enfold you. It’s not your job to silence my anxieties, but you do make them worse, until you make them vanish.