I'm a coward.
It's a bit difficult to see that down in black and white on the screen before me, but it's true enough. I'm afraid of many, many things in life, but mainly I'm afraid of pain.
Not physical pain, but emotional. Not just mine, but others'. Not just real, but imagined.
The world around me is filled with hurt and risk and despair, and rather than face it all bravely head on, I run and hide.
Tonight I'm realizing that I've done this with at least two friends recently, with potentially a third. Rather than being there for them in their pain and anguish, rather than being a life ring or rope or branch or even a twig for them to hold onto in their maelstroms of grief...
I held myself apart. Let distance become emotional as well as physical. Used the physical distance as the reason for being distant emotionally.
It's what I do.
But it gets more complicated.
It's why I held myself apart from The Ex, never fully taking the risk of exposing myself to emotional damage (and how well that worked).
It's why I rarely make friends with anyone physically nearby, so that I don't have to experience them on a daily basis unless I choose to do so virtually.
It's why I have mini panic attacks about the growing friendship with a woman who lives only fifteen minutes' drive away and with whom I could see myself getting close--if I let it happen.
It's why I barely communicate with my parents when they're thousands of miles and a continent away, when their absence is a daily ache if I let myself think of them.
It's why I've never done the hard work of closing the gap between myself and my sister, and let her physical distance excuse the emotional distance between us.
It's why I keep my children just a hand's breadth away, just enough to provide a buffer against the chaos of loving them fully.
It's why I'm terrified on a daily basis of losing MTL--to Death, most of all--because I've let him in further than anyone else.
I'm a coward.
And I'm afraid I don't know how not to be one--and even more afraid that I don't want not to be one either.
8 months ago