I sometimes wonder if honesty is selfishness. It’s easier for me not to filter what I say, not make the difficult judgements about what to withhold. I know that what I’ve said has hurt sometimes, and I know also that I’ve diminished myself in your eyes by showing you all my shame, all my desperation, all my humiliation. And despite this indiscriminate and devastating openness, still there has been so much misunderstanding, and so much hurt from that misunderstanding.
So has honesty worked? I can’t say that it has.
And yet. There are many unique aspects to your place in my life, and one of them is this: from you I withhold nothing. You are the only one. Probably the last one, too, as I say I don’t know if this has been good for us and I don’t think I’d try it again.
Sure, there are things I don’t talk about, polite fictions I maintain, because you’ve said you’re not interested in knowing those depths. But if you asked – you can have anything. Know anything.
So maybe if I was kinder, or more generous, or less selfish, I would tell you:
I’m doing fine. I think fondly of you, but it’s over, and I’ve moved on. It was good, even great, and though I wish I’d handled its ending better, I accept now that it’s over, and I’ve moved on.
But that’s not the truth.
The truth is that everything changed with you. The truth is that it can never really be over. The truth is that every time I see you – every time, all this time later – I am right back in that room, with the length of your body against mine, your head on my shoulder, and your soft voice in my ear whispering your secrets into me. The truth is that I’m lonely with everyone but you, and only with you am I found, and the last time I was happy was before you turned away. And still, after all this time, the only time I know peace is those few occasions when we meet, and have time and space to sit, and your soft voice is in my ear, saying anything at all.
So if I say I’m fine, it means I think I might survive the grief, and if I say I’ve moved on, I mean I’ve moved on from you to the emptiness of after you, and if I’ve accepted it’s over that means I’ve learnt to live without hope.
If you asked, that’s what I’d tell you.
You don’t want to matter that much, to anyone. You need not to matter that much. Telling you all this would hurt you. Maybe next time you ask I’ll have the strength to keep it to myself. Or maybe you’ve learned not to ask. Maybe that’s for the best.