I’d like to pretend that I don’t feel anything anymore.
I’d like to pretend that after all this time it doesn’t sting.
I’d like to pretend that all the years of getting it have dulled and blunted the incision, when it inevitably comes. Because it always inevitably comes. Most of all, when it is least expected.
A wise writer once wrote that certain people get past the point of pain, that they reach a point where the hurt has come so many times that they are all but immune to it, that it no longer pains them, that it no longer brings with it the requisite thrill of relief. Because for those of us who demand pain, who have learned to demand pain, the only joy is in its relief – the sudden absence of the protagonist. When that relief is gone, then the pain is gone as well. And we have been taught that we need that pain. There is no other way. It is all we have earned. It is all we deserve.
I’m not necessarily talking about myself, or the particulars of my life. There is no need for such self-indulgence anymore. What would be the point, here of all places? Here, the only place I have ever felt truly safe, because it is the only place I have had the luxury of being completely honest, where honesty is valued and rewarded and cherished. Here, where those who have come have done so of their own volition and choice, not by the forced bonds of family or the loyalty of friendship, but where strangers show me more affection for me simply in being who I am, without pretense or pretend, false affectation or expected devotion. How strange, the kindness of a stranger. How unexpectedly welcome. How heartbreakingly touching. There is, in that, a tenderness far deeper than the love upon which we think we can depend.
I’d like to pretend it doesn’t matter anymore.
I’d like to pretend I was stronger than this.
I’d like to pretend I didn’t need any of it.
I guess… I’d just like to pretend.
But I can’t.
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