as i've said many times before, the learning curve in my relationship rears its ugly head in strange and unexpected ways. i mean, when you're dating someone you've known half your life, you don't necessarily expect to look up at some points and think, where the hell did THAT aspect of your personality come from? why didn't i know about this? and yet, this happens a lot more than i feel like it should. i guess there's just a fundamental difference between being someone's best friend and being his girlfriend.
sometimes, though, it's not me who's caught unaware by the learning curve. every so often, he's the one left confused and unable to finesse the situation. this generally happens when i present him with the more complex, challenging pieces of my personality, the ones i try to hide from the world. he's a fairly straightforward man, one who prizes analytical thinking and problem-solving. if there's a challenge, it should be examined, an answer should be isolated if possible, and that course of action should be taken. A + B = C. it's algebra. but philosophy? not his bag. he has no patience for pie-in-the-sky discourse, even if done solely for recreation. those all-night-long conversations we liberal arts majors love so dearly, tossing around ideas and theorizing? yeah, you can forget that with the man. to call what he has for that sort of thing "contempt" is an insult to contempt.
so when given a real-life situation that can't be analyzed, and it's not possible to just say "fuck it, there's no answer," he is often left at a loss, shut down. enter my whipsawing emotions. i defy linear logic when i'm down like this, so there is no "let's do X to make you feel better and that'll be that." there's also, clearly, no giving up on this one. so he does things that he thinks will help, and he frets. as i lay there in the dark, clearly in a state of mind beyond his comprehension, he rubs my back, soothing the only way he knows how.
but as he does, i feel through his touch a stark, unrelenting fear. i look up at him sharply, intensely startled by the sensation. he smiles back at me, but the smile doesn't touch his eyes. and it's then, looking at the tension on his face, feeling the worry in his hands as they touch my skin, that it hits me like a ton of bricks. it's not a lack of understanding that shuts him down; it's the disappointment, the fear, that he can't snap his fingers and make it go away.
you think you know all you can about someone, and even now, you come away with a staggering new understanding. love is an evolving process, to be sure, and with every new fact gleaned, every new insight, the relationship is changed. the permanent mark of that fear-filled touch of his hand is seared onto my skin, locking in the lesson behind it: he will do anything to help me, and if he feels that he can't, it eats at him. the love behind that fear brings me to my knees with its strength, its intensity.
it's enough to lift my lowest spirits. see, love? you did help. more than you know.