As I lay in the darkness almost asleep, I heard the door slowly creak open. A moment later, he was in my bed. I felt his warm breath on the back of my neck as he gently kneaded my lower back. I did not turn around. I did not reach for him. I lay still, my eyes closed, wide awake in his ignorance.
He had ignored me all day, as he did most days, approaching me only when he needed something. My advances, now more and more infrequent, were almost always unwelcome, met with a cold hard stare and then his quick retreat to another room. How could this be love? No, this was some sort of sick perversion. I knew that even if I paid him the attention he sought he would still not stay the night, growing increasingly restless by the hour and walking listlessly around the house, eventually sleeping on the couch alone.
I drifted off to sleep with him still in my bed, thoughts of our passive aggressive relationship weighing heavily on my mind. Sometime in the middle of the night, he climbed on top of me and I awoke, startled with the pressure of his entire body bearing down on my chest. I instinctively pushed him off, barely able to breathe. He left quickly and quietly without protest, and we finished off the night sleeping apart as we did most nights.
I felt momentarily remorseful as I often did. Perhaps I had been too harsh. This might have been the time things would be different, the turning point for which I had been waiting for so long. What had I done? Maybe in my haste I had squandered the one very moment our relationship would finally transform, elevate, fulfill me. But I held those thoughts back, knowing deep in my core the cycle would never be broken. The push. The inevitable pull back. He always roped me in as he offered me a mere hint of the warmth and companionship I so desperately craved. In return I gave him my heart, my soul, only to repeatedly be callously rejected.
I always enjoyed our time together, although strikingly unremarkable in its passage. Sitting with me on the couch all of those evenings, his head in my lap, as we watched television together. Rubbing his back and his neck just like always, and yet yielding so little attention in return. In silence, we danced together like this for years. But then the moment someone else would come along to distract him, he would leave me in a flash without so much as a second glance. No allegiance. No devotion. No respect for the home I kept, for the meals I prepared. How many times had I taken him to the doctor, supporting him and comforting him while he received all of those awful examinations and injections?
My love, unlike his, was unconditional. I was there for him, always, as he needed me. And he knew it. Even seemingly preyed upon it to satisfy his selfish needs with what appeared to be a purposeful disregard for my feelings. Never once acknowledging the effect his trickery had on my emotions. That is why he felt comfortable enough to crawl back into my bed that night as if nothing had happened, as if the myriad of days before were somehow magically erased from the annals of time.
When the sun came up that morning, the house lay peaceful and still. I was alone. Quietly, I walked to the kitchen. I knew all too well what would happen next. With the precision of clockwork, I felt him come up from behind and brush against me in apology. I knew this was all he could offer me.
I must accept my truth. If I look for more, he will run. He is emotionally unavailable which means there is nothing I can do to change him.
I touched his face with understanding.
And as I poured the cat food into his bowl that morning, I thought to myself, “Perhaps I should have gotten a dog.”
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