If fate or free will ever again find me sitting across from a woman with a genuine interest in me, and she asks why I’m so terrified of falling in love, I won’t be able to hide my hemorrhaged heart. I can see it now, tensing up, gazing across the room, my white knuckled fists clenching sweaty palms. And then, with a heavy sigh I’d have to muster the courage to tell her the truth.
I’d say I wasn’t necessarily afraid of falling in love, and I certainly have absolutely no fear of commitment in a day and age that fears that the most. I would then reveal my greatest fear: a fear greater than losing a loved one, a cancer diagnosis, natural disaster, or sudden death in some kind of accident. My greatest fear, I’d say, would be falling so deeply in love with someone and investing my whole life into theirs, only to discover that they unexpectedly either gradually or suddenly, and for no particular reason, don’t feel the same way about me, finding me not worth fighting for and sticking with. I would say that to me, that is how you die while you’re still breathing, and you can never recover from that no matter how hard your try. I’d look at her from across the table, with probably some kind of hope or feeling or infatuation that knew I could love her and commit to her forever, but recoil with fear from the times I had been brave but my fears ended up being fulfilled. I would look at her and want to believe she was sincere, but a part of me would know that there’s just no way of ever really knowing. With a pounding heart and a trembling voice, I would then say that the scariest part about it is you’ll never know if you’re falling for the wrong person, if they’re just going to wake up one day and sever the relationship and never see or speak to you again. That, I would say, is why I’m afraid.
My greatest fear has crept into my life numerous times, where people I have been extremely close to and invested in have suddenly and without any real explanation, picked up and left my life, closing the door on me for good, severing the relationship entirely, and choosing to erase me from their life. After this happens to you more than once, and you see some of your closest friends go through the same thing, you can’t help but question yourself, thinking surely there must be something wrong with you if people you love and cherish so dearly can so cold-heartedly and abruptly walk away. Being shut out is something I have experienced far too many times, and just when I’m finally feeling recovered and take the risk to love again, it’s only a matter of time before what’s become for me, the inevitable, happens and hits you like a tsunami of nausea. You think for sure not this person, I love them so much, and they love me, too! And yet, the ones you never expect are the ones who somehow have it in them to leave you in complete ruin. My tormented mind buries this one terrifying fear deep inside a dark, shadowy and hellish place that I do not understand.
The fear, once fulfilled, makes you feel worthless and discarded like a piece of garbage. They may tell you they love you with beautiful words, but actions speak volumes, and what speaks even louder is what they choose to withhold from you. “Maybe she didn’t love me,” I’d say, “Maybe she just didn’t want to be alone, or maybe I made her feel better about her life, and maybe she was in love with the idea of being in love with me, but did she love me?”
And as I’d sit there across the table from the new genuinely interested girl who could be my soulmate, after many more years alone and tormented, I’d come to what should have been the clear and obvious realization that no one destroys or abandons or severs relationships with people they love. And in that moment, if it ever comes, I’ll have a petrifying decision to make on what to do with what’s left of my hemorrhaged heart.