Monday, January 23, 2006

I Hate Myself in Your Eyes

Even though I knew it was bound to end badly, a little part of me was flattered and curious. I should have listened to my conscience, but when I heard her story and felt her longing, it broke my heart to think of disappointing her. Against my better judgment, I heard myself cheerfully say, "Yes, I’d love to". The thin lilt in my voice might have seemed transparent to anyone who wasn’t in pain.

She was a victim of a long-term relationship that ended in betrayal. Tossed to the curb, scratching and clawing with a willingness to do anything to be welcomed back home. When she found me, she pretended to be whole. I pretended to believe her as I watched her crawl across the floor in a desperate effort to collect the scattered bits of herself. I should have helped her, but I lacked the courage. I told myself I had something in my eye.

After 4 dates, she told me that she loved me. I didn’t know what to say, but as I studied her face I saw things that repulsed me. The most honest response I could muster was a smile of genuine pity. I drew her close to me so I didn’t have to see her eyes any more. I hated that her abject loneliness made her say such things when I never gave her anything worth loving.

She accepted scraps from me, all the while desperately dancing around my feet, begging for more. I listened to her anguish and accepted her gifts and affection, more from my own guilt than any real interest. The longer it went on, the worse I felt. I became cold and hard toward her vulnerability, a stranger to myself. My emotional withdrawal only increased her efforts to please me.

I was relieved when she said she just wanted to be friends. A stone was lifted, and I felt free for the first time in what seemed like forever. In that moment of farewell, she became lovely and beautiful for the first time. She no longer reflected the frail and destitute parts of myself that I despise.


At 11:16 PM, Blogger Steve said...

Projections, Theresa. We all have to deal with them. People treat us certain ways based on their projections. But whenever we feel that someone's projection of us is not best suited for us, we need to take corrective action immediately! Not wait! Otherwise, as you see, we can suffer with feelings of despair.

At 5:57 AM, Blogger Dick the Boomer said...

Incredible! You really nailed it with the last two sentences in your usual fearless fashion.

At 7:07 AM, Blogger Chick said...

I think I've played both some point in my life...I think I've learned from both relationships & moved least that's what I'm hoping.

At 8:49 AM, Blogger theresa said...

Steve - yes, we learn our lessons along the way, sometimes painfully, sometimes on the backs of others.

Dick - Don't be fooled. This story frightens me ... of myself.

Chick - It's true for me too. I've been on both sides. Neither is a happy place.

At 9:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of the many examples that prove the axiom - sometimes the loneliest you ever feel is when you're laying next to someone who doesn't love you back.

At 10:00 AM, Blogger AndyT13 said...

Wow. I'm speechless. That's all so familiar! "The destitute parts of me I despise." If you're brilliant and you know it clap your hands.
Well? Clap 'em already!

At 10:11 AM, Blogger Ron Southern said...

Good writing. Sad tale.

At 11:24 AM, Blogger Al said...

either pair of shoes really suck. I really didn't like the fact that I could be so cruel and I can't believe that I've been able to allow myself to be that hurt.

At 11:48 AM, Blogger Brea said...

Amazing writing.

At 1:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Damn, that's painful. Theresa, you are a literary master.

At 3:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it's a very intricate (and intimate) glance into why we choose to get involved with people in relationships - and it isn't always about love or liking someone. People take that leap for many different reasons and I think you've hit upon something really deep. I think everyone can see themselves in this a little bit - that relationship that you became over-involved with by "accident"!

At 9:14 PM, Blogger theresa said...

Anon - yep ... been there too.

Andy - Have I told you lately that you're the BEST!

Ron - Thanks, and yes, very sad.

Al - It's amazing what we're each capable of. And you're right, neither pair of shoes feels fitting.

Brea - Thanks Sweetheart.

Anon - Whew! Grand words. Thank you.

Anon - I hope everyone can see something familiar in this story, even if it's not a painful experience.

One truth that guides my approach to relationships is the belief that you cannot love or hate something about someone else unless it reflects something you love or hate about yourself.

At 5:01 AM, Blogger Laurie said...

I'm too tired at the moment to leave an intelligent comment, but that was excellent, T.

We always despise the things that we don't like about ourselves when we see it in others.

At 6:24 PM, Blogger Bougie Black Boy said...

This was soooo anonymous coward-esque. I'm scared. LOL well written. And the artwork (where'd you get it?) is amazing as well and complements the words so well

At 7:15 PM, Blogger theresa said...

Laurie - So true ... you seem to be thinking just fine.

Stephen - Anonymous Coward-esque. Of all people, I thought you would have figured out by now that AC is ME.
(Oh my! Thats even scarier)

The art is a painting called 'My Sister, My Reflection'. The artist is Terry Rentzepis. You can find more information here:

At 9:33 PM, Blogger Polyman2 said...

How frightning & true Theresa,
As in all forms of expression-
we are most vulnerable
when we stand naked before another
draped only in longing and neediness.

At 9:51 PM, Blogger Maverick said...


I mean, I don't know what to say.

I repulse you?

LOL! No, really, that was so truly beautiful, I just had to relieve the strain on myself and make a joke about it.

You are really a very lovely person, genuine and kind, and so aware.

Thanks for sharing that, I just had a lucid moment. How sad life is, how sad we are, on both sides of the fence. And, all in attempts to make some kind of connection. So human. Reflecting.

And, I thought I had nothing to say...

Incognito Maverick Chik

At 11:38 PM, Blogger ZooooM said...

Wow. Sadly beautiful description of so many dynamics in relationships.

WILDLY brilliant on your part. As usual!

At 8:54 AM, Blogger theresa said...

Polyman - That naked-needy-longing place is scary ... and a little cold this time of year.

Maverick - You say some pretty awesome things when you don't know what to say.

Zoooomilicious - Thanks, Sweet Stuff.

At 7:10 PM, Blogger Shephard said...

I agree with your comment about what we dislike in someone else being reflected back on us in some mirror like way.
Enjoy your writing. :)

At 10:57 AM, Blogger Bougie Black Boy said...

if YOU = AC
and I = YOU
then what does that mean? LOL

At 2:21 PM, Blogger clew said...

Hi Teresa, I've seen you and AC duke it out a few times on his blog and so I came over to check ya out ... I was going to say EXACTLY what Stephen said ... this post seemed very AC-like. But now it seems all unoriginal and insincere , so I'll just say hi.


At 5:15 PM, Blogger Popeye said...

Ew. Icky.
I've been there and it just ain't no fun. Blah.

At 8:21 PM, Blogger clew said...

Sh*t. I spelled your name wrong. Sorry. *blush*

At 8:42 PM, Blogger theresa said...

Shephard - Thank you. I've started to make time to enjoy your blog as well.

Stephen - very cool person + very cool person + very creepy and disturbing person.
Sounds like an odd mix ... but I like the odds better with you involved.

Clew - I'm glad you stopped by. We always welcome Hot Chiks, and you, my dear, are definitely a Hot Chik.
Oh ... don't worry about the misspelling.

Popeye - Now that we know what it's like, best we avoid such things.

At 7:46 AM, Blogger JD's Rose said...

That was sad but beautiful...



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