Know your no and choose to say yes

He was unkind about how he did this, and those words were the least of it. He was wrong, in any case.

Published: 03rd June 2023 03:29 AM  |   Last Updated: 03rd June 2023 08:29 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

Some years ago, a man I was sweet on—but not so sweet on that I responded to his lukewarm, and invariably circumstance-based, overtures—said to me, as if it was a fact and not a judgement: “You’re just picky”. He was in a new relationship then, and we were attempting to erase the fact of our prior unfulfilled crushes on each other and to proceed along friendship terms.

He was unkind about how he did this, and those words were the least of it. He was wrong, in any case. I may be a lot of things—brooding, possessive, challenging, secretive—but picky isn’t one of them. I have been picked on, I’ve been preyed on, but I’ve never been chosen. Therefore, I’ve not always had the luxury of choice.

I have always been drawn romantically to emotionally unavailable people, and on the flipside of this coin is that I have also been—perhaps not always, but with an increasing awareness of it with each year that I get older —unavailable.

I have been unavailable because I’ve been enmeshed in a lattice of either heartbreak or limerence (they are siblings, but they are different—the first is pure, the other is complicated because despite how painful it is, it is also a way of unconsciously barbing the heart’s door). I’ve been unavailable because I gave my power over to known abusers, kept my lips tight, kept my head down, tried to be someone I not only wasn’t but who would also never, no matter how thorough the self-wreckage, be enough. I’ve been unavailable because I’ve been entangled in ways that weren’t right for me, but had and held me inveigled just the same.

But finally, for the first time, I’ve become unavailable because I am more than enough.

I recognised this when I saw that something I would ordinarily have understood as rejection was more layered. It wasn’t that someone did not like me—I have looked into that face, and I know. It was only that he could not see me, wasn’t willing or able to learn me, was averse to curiosity, intimacy and reciprocity, and this would mean acres of disappointment and frustration ahead of me. Intermingled with small doses of pleasure and giddiness—but not enough to justify the costs. I recognised that by choosing to not extend another chance, to a person who may have the desire but not the capacity to take it, I was choosing myself. Perhaps he said No. But I—I said Yes.

I said Yes, I would rather walk away than to keep pace with a stride that confuses me, that inhibits me, that in one way or another keeps me from me.

It has taken me a long time to come to this place. This evening, I am writing this rather than waiting for this man (this one; most recent in a long line, but not the last), and my time and my life-force belong to me. I am not the lovelorn in Kuruntokai 234, the day squandered, wistful in the gloaming. Once again, but in a way I didn’t know before, I am free.


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