My darkest secret sank into the coffee mug as Ben wrapped his arms around me. My cheeks burned as the lump in my throat erupted into fiery sobs. Caroline is the only other person to know this secret. She knows the depth of it, I don’t want to relive the depths, not now, not ever.
I can’t breathe with his arms around me. I can’t think, I’m trapped in between a mental break and loving someone. Pushing on his arms for freedom from the cage of empathy he built, I could feel the sense of abandonment transfer into a dark hole. Anger, pain, agony, sorrow, dread… it all started to seep out of their locked boxes into the hole that was quickly borrowing itself between Ben and me.
Feeling my emotions wouldn’t bring back those who never wanted to stay. But I’m almost certain they would make him leave. Who would want to be around such a person? I can’t feel, I put every second of my life into the idea of masking the loneliness with sex that when I finally have someone willing to hold me I can’t let him stay.
As his grasp around me cleared room for my escape I fell into the counter. The coffee mug taking flight from the last place I left it makes its way to the kitchen floor. What felt like minutes of slow motion was only seconds in real life as it came crashing down next to me.
“Jesus…” I stammer as it’s broken remnants lay in the pool of dark liquid.
“It’s just a mug.” I heard as I stared down. The mug was me, it was the moment I felt my whole life becoming free and falling apart at the same time. I was broken, each piece was someone who left, taking a part of me with them.
“No…” I replied as I lean down towards the kitchen floor “… it’s me.” In that moment I felt every part of my soul bleed for mercy. The breaking point wasn’t the mug or Caroline or even my mother. The breaking point was knowing that if I tried to glue myself back together I was afraid I wouldn’t be the same person who fell in love whole heartedly for the first time.
I have spent decades putting a front up with people who thought they knew what was best for me. Sex and drive-by relationships gave me a blanket to hide under. I didn’t have to get close, I didn’t have to feel, I didn’t have to care when they walked out; at least that’s what I always told myself. But Ben was different. He fought his way into my heart while I held up every sign, wall, and fortress I could to protect myself.
“You can leave,” I said as I slowly picked up the broken pieces “I’m a mess. Tinder can get you a date tonight if you want. I won’t think twice if you do.” I didn’t want him to leave, but I was letting him. I was giving him the choice because, in that moment of holding broken pieces of a coffee mug, I realized I never wanted to go another day without him. And that hurt more than knowing someday he would wake up to realize I’m just too broken.