One of the reasons I love reading is that they provide a way for me to articulate how I feel in ways that I’m not (as) embarrassed about admitting. I’ve always been terrible at telling people how I feel, actually that’s a lie– I’ve never really told people how I feel until recently, but the gist of this is that I’m a doer, not a talker. Meaning, I prefer to show people I care, rather than verbally tell them; “talking” is just really uncomfortable to me. (Proof: I’m unable to answer direct questions in situations where the purpose is to answer said questions; thankfully, I have really good friends.)
One of the downfalls about communicating through actions is that when people try to tell you how they feel, it’s hard for you to really believe them because that’s not your primary form of communication. Maybe that’s a broad, sweeping generalization. Maybe it’s just a side effect of my “I’m unlovable” mindset. I don’t know.
What I do know is that I’m finally aware of this, however this doesn’t make accepting things any easier.
I spent Mothers Day trying my best not to think about my birth mother (and parents), or about the whole ‘I’m no longer talking to my adoptive family’ and accompanying guilt thing. Seriously, who doesn’t say anything to their adoptive mother on mothers day?! Of course, I failed, but eventually I decided to dive into a good book.
After downloading The Fault In Our Stars, a book which I was sure that I couldn’t relate to, I set out to block out everything. It was finally time to relax and hopefully get some food down.
The book was really great, probably one of the best I’ve read in a long time, but I found myself resonating with two terminally ill cancer patients a little too much. Namely, that they both had timelines attached to their lives; they both knew their life was going to end sooner than their peers and loved ones.
At one point, the main character gets frustrated with her parents and equates herself with a grenade:
“I’m like. Like. I’m like a grenade, Mom. I’m a grenade and at some point I’m going to blow up and I would like to minimize the casualties, okay?”
“I’m a grenade,” I said again. “I just want to stay away from people and read books and think and be with you guys because there’s nothing I can do about hurting you; you’re too invested, so just please let me do that, okay? I’m not depressed. I don’t need to get out more. And I can’t be a regular teenager, because I’m a grenade.”
“I wanted to know that he would be okay if I died. I wanted to not be a grenade, to not be a malevolent force in the lives of people I loved.”
When I read these lines, I completely broke down because I realized that like her, I was also a grenade and that some point within these next two weeks I was going to explode. I realized how selfish I was; how I should’ve gotten away from people before they became too invested. I wanted to run home, pack for Korea, and then live at a hotel for the next week until my departure…all so that I wouldn’t be a grenade, or to at least minimize the casualties.
So of course I tensed up when he touched me. To be with him was to hurt him—inevitably. And that’s what I’d felt as he reached for me: I’d felt as though I were committing an act of violence against him, because I was.
It’s the reason I don’t like people in my bubble, especially people I care about, because in the back of my mind I always know that I’m going to hurt them; I know I’m incapable of giving people myself.
Everything about this trip, I realized, had been framed with an “I’m not coming back” mentality. I had written letters and made plans. I was pretty certain about how things would play out.
All of this was until yesterday, when I was forced to talk and to listen— listen to the impact that my actions would have and listen to people telling me that they cared…a lot. I’d be a grenade with a wide radius, a wider radius than I would have ever anticipated.
As I sat listening, I realized that these people actually meant what they had/were saying. They communicate like the rest of the human world, via words. The problem is that I’m not someone who has the ability to let messages like ‘we care for you’ and ‘we love you’ in. It’s not that I doubt that they do because I know that they’re authentic people who mean what they say, but I still can’t help but have my doubts. It’s an inability on my part. I’m just incapable of accepting and feeling these things.
All of that said, I don’t doubt the repercussions (which means that on some level that I can’t acknowledge yet, I’m letting myself realize that they do care), and realized that I’ve got to come home because I care more about these people than I do myself.
I gave them my 100 percent promise that I’d come back.
It’s really uncomfortable, and a bit disempowering, to have people care about you.