On Punishing Others

We were talking, and everything was good. Then you said that thing.

Something that, to you, was just a pile of words. But to me, it was sharp. It hurt. It triggered something from a memory of someone else who hurt me, and in that moment, I couldn’t tell if you were you or them.

My heart shut off, as if to say, “Fine. You don’t get me anymore. I’m taking my toys to another sandbox. Have fun being alone, since you ruined our sandcastle!”

And while looking at you, sitting in the same square foot, I started walking towards the other sandbox. My body sat there, but my heart was walking, toy in hand, out of the conversation.

I wanted to punish you by withdrawing myself.

I was almost in the other sandbox, and then I saw it.

I saw that I was doing that thing I do. You know, the thing where you don’t say the right thing, and I take myself away?

It’s been one of my stealthiest strategies for years.

People know something is wrong, because I make it obvious. Then they have to come and make me feel better. Or, they don’t do it right again, and leave me alone! And then I win, by leaving THEM alone, FOREVER!

It’s the perfect plan.

Except, when I saw it this time, a wave of exhaustion hit me. I didn’t want to cut you out anymore. My heart looked up at my head hesitantly, as if to ask, “What if there’s more than this?”

I sighed. I turned around, and walked back to you. It wasn’t your fault anyway — I never shared the sting of your words. Somehow, I’ve been expecting you to know.

My heart and I laughed, realizing that we had been hoping you were a wizard — a mind-reader — and we exhaled.

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