I’m restraining myself. Holding back. In so many ways that feel so unnatural, like stopping an object already in motion, changing trajectories when the path is already clearly cut in front of me.
A runner in a crouch waiting for the gun to go off.
A horse behind the racetrack doors, hoofing at the ground.
Even my friends are commenting on it lately. “You’re really restraining yourself here, aren’tcha,” my buddy from Seattle commented last week. He’s not used to seeing the emotions so heavy in me without the extensive expression.
“She’s just … I have such … I think I …” I swallowed, started again. Can’t finish those sentences. “Ilikeherlots.”
He laughed. “I can tell!”
It’s hard, I continued. Scary. Frightening when my body remembers what happened last time these emotions ran through me, what happened the last time I thought I could be with someone, last time I saw the future stretch out in front of me, paths parallel and touching and intertwining. I know how that ends. My brain knows that is still possible and wants it to be possible and aches for it to be possible and pretends like I can operate from a place where I still believe that is possible, but my body stops me cold. No, no, danger, danger. Don’t feel this, don’t like it, don’t fall, don’t.
Especially when my instinct is my chest broken open, heart wide and deep wine red, bursting, fingers spread wide, arms spread wide, head thrown back and laughing, five-points spread, everything aligned.
But part of me thinks, I know better now. I can’t do that, yet.
So instead I say, “I’m holding back. I can feel myself holding back.”
Kristen wrote to me yesterday: “The thought occurred to me that you might not be able to open up to the extent that you want to with me, that I might have to be “heart practice” or something, but that you wouldn’t ever get all the way there.”
But that’s not it. I know I can open up how I want to. I’ve done it before and it feels like my natural instinct here, like I am fighting against it constantly. I can do it. It’s just not time yet for me to unleash what I know I’m capable of, the full expression of the feelings I am already feeling.
I looked yesterday, I have ten emails to her in my drafts folder, from heartsore ramblings about missing her to links that I think she should read to poems I haven’t finished to lists of what I want to do to her. Instead, all I say is, “I’m holding back.”
But what that means is this: desire. I can’t say I want to hold your heart on my tongue, poised, sweet and succulent, so I say I’m holding back. I can’t say I am catching the first train to your house right after work and I know I’ll have to turn right around and go back home in order to get any actual sleep tonight but I have to, I have to, see you, even just for a few minutes, to see the light behind the blue of your eyes and smell your skin and taste your mouth, so I say I’m holding back. I can’t say I’m ready, I can hold you, bring it on, so I say I’m holding back.
But I aim for that expression of these feelings. And every week, every month that goes by [we just passed the four months on the 13th, officially the longest since], every weekend of deeper exploration of each other, I get closer. There is a softening around my heart. There is more confidence in my own space, more healing of the old wounds still weaving and seeping.
I can’t not hold back right now. But I’m also moving forward with lightning speed, thick walls cracking and falling into rubble, shaking sometimes with fear but looking it all right in the face, eyes wide open, wide open.