Monday, June 16, 2008


I saw it on her face. Had I not been watching her so closely I would have missed it, but there was something in her voice, an energy and joy that caught my attention. And so I eavesdropped on her cell phone conversation, catching one side of a discussion she was having with her man. There was a hushed whisper of sweet words bantered back and forth between them and the requisite giggles and laughter that a couple occasionally shares and then she wished him a good day, told him she’d definitely see him later and before disconnecting the call, she told him she loved him. I love you.

Then the expression on her face changed and in that quick instant I saw sadness wash over her. In that moment I knew that for whatever reason he hadn’t said those three words back, and for whatever reason she desperately needed to hear them. She recovered quickly, light and laughter replacing that rising cloud but in that brief moment it brought back memories of a man who didn’t, couldn’t, or wouldn’t say he loved me.

It was disconcerting to be in a relationship with a man I absolutely adored and not be sure he felt the same way. To share every ounce of one’s self with a person and be completely vulnerable to unfathomable hurt and then have doubts about that person’s love is not easy.

I’m a woman who wears her emotions on her sleeves. If I love you I have no problems saying it plus it’s usually written all over my face. I’ll proudly shout it to the heavens if I could because I’m not ashamed to love the people I do. And, like most women I want and need to hear it back.

This man felt it necessary to hide me from family and friends, making me feel like some dirty little secret he was afraid would get out. Then no matter what he said I found myself questioning if he really loved me at all. That doubt was crippling. It fed into fear and confusion and then simple issues easily got blown out of proportion. He rationalized his reasons. I tried to understand his discomfort. But I knew he was hiding our relationship and more importantly, not being forthcoming about what it was he was feeling. And what he was feeling didn’t feel much like love.

If someone was in the room behind him, and I told him I loved him, he wasn’t going to say it back. He wasn’t going to risk people he was close to hearing him say he loved me. And then I had to accept that maybe there was nothing for any of them to discover. I was the only one saying I love you. I was the only one willing to voice how I felt about the man who’d stolen my heart. I was the only one feeling foolish every time I hung up a phone after hearing him respond with “me, too” or a “yeah, sure,” or "okay", or even worse, silence. After awhile I just stopped saying it. Eventually I stopped feeling it as well.

She loved him. She told him so and all she’d wanted was to hear him say it back. Whether he just didn’t, couldn’t, or wouldn’t, the final result was still the same. It was sadness that washed over her. Sadness, and doubt.

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