The Naked Face

I had a class­mate in Phi­los­o­phy once. He wasn’t the bright­est, but he was very per­cep­tive. He accused me of being two-faced. Not bat­ting an eye­lash, I asked why. There you go, he said. Appar­ent­ly, my face remained impas­sive but for a split sec­ond, my eyes nar­rowed. The same guy not­ed that when I smile, my smile didn’t real­ly reach my eyes. It could only mean I wasn’t real­ly hap­py. I laughed him off on both occa­sions. You’re imag­in­ing things was what I said. But he was right.

Peo­ple who think they know me, they per­ceive me as strong willed, unafraid, unwa­ver­ing. Being called names doesn’t both­er me at all. I think it’s a com­pli­ment. I would nev­er be caught cry­ing in pub­lic. I scoff at any dis­play of emo­tions. To the untrained eye, I would smile even if my toe nail, or my heart, is break­ing. I rev­el in the anonymi­ty my sham afford­ed me. No one could ever use my emo­tions against me. Emo­tions make peo­ple weak; it also ham­per crit­i­cal think­ing. I could lick the fire and dance in the ash­es of every bridge I ever burned. Nor­mal peo­ple wince, I would be smil­ing. I guess I took The God­fa­ther char­ac­ters too seri­ous­ly.

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The peo­ple close to me know bet­ter. They know I do cry at movies, espe­cial­ly any­thing involv­ing pets. I may look malev­o­lent but I’m actu­al­ly nice, I don’t eat peo­ple. I actu­al­ly smile! When I do, I’ve been told I have a great smile. I wish I can smile often and not think that I look like a cretin.

It’s not a sur­prise that my so called apa­thy car­ried on to my roman­tic rela­tion­ships. I some­times liken them to chess, or pok­er. I nev­er let on what I tru­ly feel right away. I see all the moves in my mind. I don’t like putting all my eggs in one bas­ket. I know myself well enough that my heart is frag­ile. Yes, I am sen­si­tive, but not every­one is privy to that infor­ma­tion. I nev­er real­ly expe­ri­enced a gut-wrench­ing heart­break. I still get hurt, I’m human after all. What­ev­er hurts I felt, I could eas­i­ly shake them off.  I build blocks in the hopes that some­one would be brave enough to break them.

And some­one did. He didn’t only break the blocks, he demol­ished the wall I built. It took me awhile to ful­ly open up. I had to trust him. Trust­ing some­one ful­ly meant giv­ing them pow­er over you, and that would make me vul­ner­a­ble. It was a scary prospect. Vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty was an alien con­cept to me, but I was all for try­ing new things. If he can be brave, why can’t I? I took a leap of faith. It was lib­er­at­ing to be final­ly who I real­ly was, feel what I want to feel, say the things I want to say.

You know what they say, some good things nev­er last. We broke up. I was in unre­lent­ing pain. Depressed took on a deep­er mean­ing — it felt like being sucked into an abyss. I nev­er ful­ly under­stood the word until I was liv­ing in it. Hell was lov­ing him in my sleep and wak­ing up alone. I went to war for what we had, he nev­er even put on his boots. I was bro­ken; he broke me. I was in love and love died. The state he left me in wasn’t pain I can see myself hav­ing the strength to face again. I wasn’t imper­vi­ous after all.

I thought I’d nev­er be right after that.  It didn’t help that I became reclu­sive and cut every­one off. I need­ed to find myself again. Nobody could help me. I had to hoist myself up. When you hit rock bot­tom, there is only one way to go but up. The only rea­son I’m still here is not because I’m strong—I’m crazy and stub­born. I sim­ply refused to with­er away.

And so the walls went up again. Not as strong I hoped, but stand­ing. I start­ed to feel like my old self. It does get lone­ly some­times, but at least I’m not sad. I still have an aver­sion to feel­ings, but it wasn’t as bad as before. I’ve learned not to care about the mun­dane, but only about things that set my soul on fire. In the end, all I real­ly want is to have a com­plete­ly adven­tur­ous, pas­sion­ate, weird life. But don’t we all?

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