You are not the first to say it. I have encountered a variation on this theme my whole life. Never at the beginning – rather, it seems to come as something of a surprise, arriving with the first disagreement, the first negation. When I lose that dreamy quality to reveal I have in fact been listening all along. It somehow feels like a trick – my personality sleight of hand.
Challenging. You say I am challenging. Not a challenge – no that has a different connotation altogether. That suggests some sort of game to be played, a battle to be fought and won. You can prepare for a challenge – it belongs squarely in your understanding of the world – you always could stay the course. But a challenging woman – that presents another risk entirely.
You find me confronting. My honesty in particular – which I thought was merely conversation. It gets us into trouble time and again after those first blinkered weeks. I am barely at the beginning of us, the unraveling is why I am here but you want to press pause, to keep your impression of my best parts. Like a painting best viewed at a distance, I will distort if you get too close. This is how you like your art.
Perhaps I should have left you sooner – left you with your pretty picture. I certainly would have come off better – the girl that could have been, the one that got away. You would have never known my contradictions, my lightening temper, the knife-edge of my discontent. I would have been the curious, compassionate lover, not the difficult, demanding shrew. But you placed the pedestals opposite each other, and I climbed right down from both.
You have an idea of women, I know. All the things we are meant to be. We are allowed to feel passion when the one who reaps the reward is you. But if we provoke, if we poke holes in your sanctimony, if we catechise – it’s challenging. It isn’t nice. And nice is what you go home to. I am reminded of this every day.
But here’s what I know better than you. We each contain multitudes – the glimmers and sparks of disparate parts. Every effort to confine our contradictions is a disconnect. Not just from each other, but from our own essential nature – a far worse schism when the lights go out. You have to look up close, you have to examine the inconsonance in any character. That is where the honest individual resides. Every cell connected. The sum greater than even its nicest parts.
(They have told you lies about the human experience. It is always, always worth challenging).
Only connect! That was the whole of her sermon.
Only connect the prose and the passion, and both will be exalted,
and human love will be seen at its highest.
Live in fragments no longer. Only connect …
Image by Joanne Piechota.