I have a confession to make.
I am not a good person. I am likely to succumb to all the same base moral flaws and shortcomings of any man.
One of them being vanity.
I would like to think I am above all this, but I am undeniably human and therefore prone to all the follies of man.
I like to think that there are others who think of me, speak of me, and I would like to know what they are saying.
Beautiful always kept a diary. In fact at our one year anniversary in college I gave her the diary that she uses right now. I never asked her, nor did I pressure her or even insinuate I was interested, but she willingly and enthusiastically gave me the special privilege and honor to read her diary once a week. It was like being given the keys to her inner world, one that I was interested in as one who loved her and wanted to take care of her but doubly so because it was also a world I found out I inhabited. I reveled in reading about my adventures in her mind. I saw how she saw me, I counted my victories and my losses. I knew exactly how she was remembering our relationship. I was the hero in her story. No one had ever written about me before, and I loved the version of me she had created for herself. As much as I wanted to make this not about me and more about learning how best to be there for her, I found myself spending most of my time reading and re-reading every one of our interactions.
Beautiful’s voice had always been soft and light. She had yet to learn how to assign weight to her thoughts and desires. Reading her diary helped me to take a temperature reading of our relationship. The deepest, heaviest, most transformative conversations of our relationship were between me and the pages of her book. I would read, absorb, inhabit, her thoughts and then speak to her. In this repeated manner over the years I became able to anticipate her thoughts and needs. No one knew Beautiful better than I did, and my words spoke directly to her heart. I had made her heart second nature to mine, and I could read her heartbeat in her eyes, her voice, her touch, and yes, especially her words.
Words that, when we met again last year, seemed to tell me she was unhappy. That she was in a relationship that did not understand or satisfy her and that she did not have the voice to leave. I want you to understand that all I saw was her unhappiness and dissatisfaction. There was nothing that made me think she wanted me back and I said nothing to tell her to leave. I told her, as I always have, the truth of what I saw in her heart. That she wanted more, and felt she was receiving less. That she needed to be reminded of what she could be worth and could demand of one who loved her.
When she appeared at my door, in the rain, the night she left her ex, I was in my bed clothes. I had no idea whatsoever what had transcribed or why she was here. But I let her in, and she spoke more than I think I’ve ever heard her say about the truth of her heart, and for once I did more listening than talking, and then I held her close to me, tightly, through the night, as she cried for him, for me, for herself.
Then we got back together. And I was surprised to see how much of her voice she had found and developed. She was clear, eloquent, direct with what she wanted. I didn’t have to try too hard to know how she felt because she had learned to give of that freely and openly. Our relationship blossomed and grew fast in the past year.
I was surprised, but excited, to find out that through all these years she had kept her diary and had kept up writing in it regularly. But this time, because she was more able to speak about the relationship, and because we were different people, this was to remain her diary. It would have chronicled everything since our breakup. Every bad decision. Every failed attempt at romance. Every shameful hookup. And the story of her three year-long love with her ex. Things that were vital to her growth. Scars that needed to be felt and growth that needed to be fulfilled. And thoughts and situations and memories that she did not want me to know of.
I think you know where this is going. I told you I was not a good person. I am vain and self-interested.
One weekend while her family was away and we were sleeping together at her place, I took her diary and read it in the middle of the night while she slept.
Yes, there were the nitty gritty of things she did not want me to know about. Yes there were memories and stories of her with others that hurt me to read. But honestly, all I really wanted to do was to hear more about myself.
I went to the dates that corresponded with our reunion. And, I am ashamed to say, I read her diary. I voraciously took it all in like I did back in college. The words were so similar. The emotion so familiar. She told of how over the years the one thing that never changed in her life was how she felt about me. How excited she was for this second opportunity. How different it felt to be with me. Both familiar but also better. She acknowledged how different our passions and hobbies were but she was appreciative of how enthusiastically I was willing to try out her interests and accompany her on some of her excursions. She talked about feeling wanted again, feeling like a priority, being with someone who understood her so deeply and profoundly.
I broke a key part of her trust for my own vain purposes, to hear the words she spoke to herself about how much she loved me and how happy she was to be with me again.
Publicly, she also now maintained her own blog. It was primarily pictures and videos of her pet bunnies and food she made/ate. Nothing ever really about relationships, so it was just a fun read.
Until we broke up.
And then, one day, it just…poured out of her. Some sudden wave of inspiration and want drove her to write publicly and openly.
About how much she loved him.
About how much she missed him.
About how, through everything, he was the man she truly loved, and how everything had been a mistake.
Post after post, day after day, from here to Australia, so many beautiful and eloquent and open thoughts about him. Words she had never said about me to herself or to anyone.
And I am a vain man.
So I read them.
So my second confession must be that I have to admit that a good number of these wounds that I now suffer were self-inflicted.
I was vain, and thought she would ever still want to write about me, and I hunted down her words, and I opened up the possibility for me to be hurt because I openly and willingly looked up a place where I did not belong to read the words of one who did not love me.
I couldn’t understand it. Words that she would only ever say to herself about me, she was saying the same and more to others about him. Were her words about me ever true then? She didn’t even want to let people know we were back together so soon after out of respect for him, to let others believe she was going through the appropriate grieving process. There are people who never even knew we had gotten back together and broken up because of how delicately she managed our relationship. But she wanted the world to know about the man she loved. The man who, she told me in private, in person, and in her diary…no, you know what, it doesn’t matter what she said. That’s not the moral of this story. And if I keep focusing on that, I’ll keep driving myself crazy.
I confess that I am a vain man. That I would betray someone’s trust to feed a need to fuel my ego and believe that there are others who think and write of me. And I confess that my vanity has caused me my own great pains and that I do not know how to take control of this self-inflicted pain.
Man: 25 Loneliness: 16