Guilt Trips Are Expensive, and I’m Broke

Kinfolk Stories: Year In Year Out by rusticmeetsvintage

I was going to write a story about guilt trips, but the only thing that came to mind is how the silence sounded when you screamed goodbye in whispered breaths.

Two Things About Me

  1. My love language is physical touch all. the. way. Give me the cuddles, forehead kisses, hand-holding, everything.
  2. I don’t look fondly on marriage or parenting for my future. (And before you ask, I wasn’t abused as a child, and my parents are still married and in love.)

This is an actual conversation I had with a friend three years ago.

“So………..what happened with Jake?” he asks. I sigh and push my folder away.

“He was addicted to me. I’m addicted to……… something else. Love can’t live in the same house with addiction.” I answer while looking at the table.

“What if he had been addicted to you too?” he asks. He still views love as the only addiction that leads to salvation rather than destruction.

“Wouldn’t be love.” I answer curtly.

“Why not? Isn’t love a sort of addiction? The only addiction that doesn’t kill you?” he asks with a hopeful look at my strained face. I gave a short chuckle and inhaled quickly.

“No such thing as an addiction that doesn’t kill you. Being addicted to each other……that’s not love. That’s sick. Co-dependency isn’t much of a relationship, it’s an illness. An illness they don’t show you in those love stories like ‘500 Days of Summer’ or ‘Gone With the Wind’.”

He opens his mouth to interrupt me, but I continue before he can even say his first word,

“I’ve had that love before, thought it was restlessly exciting and beautiful. Thought our love was just misunderstood by the world.”

“Love is healthy co-dependence in a way. You both need the other to live.” he insists.

“Bullshit” I blurt, jerking my head to meet his face.

“But if you could live without them, it isn’t love. If being without them doesn’t cause you any pain, do you really love them? Love is inherently needing a person more than yourself.” he tries to explain as he leans forward.

“Bullshit”, I spit out again, also leaning forward, “Show them how you wouldn’t die of a broken heart without them. If you need them to live, believe me, there will come a day when you resent them, wish you could survive on your own. Want them more than you need them so it’s actually a choice and not some twisted grasp for your own survival.”

My expression softens to one reminiscent of my hopeless resolve to die that long-lost wisp of a Wednesday seven years ago as he looks me in the eyes.

I tell him “I’m not going to fall in love with you.”

He tries to hide his hope as he falters.

“No?” He asks in a small, taut voice that’s desperately trying to be light. I hesitates before answering his question, and my hands twitch at my sides with the static in the air.

“No.” I answer tonelessly. He scoffs and stand, turning away for a moment before whirling back to face me, pointing his index finger at my face.

“You came up to me. You sit next to me in class. You hold my hand all the time. You take me on adventures around the city.” He says while I can feel both his voice and my hands shaking at the same frequency, and I press my fists into the sides of my thighs. We are staring at each other and waiting for the other to talk. I stand, taking a step toward him, and he draws his arms across his chest, stepping backwards from me and staring at the floor. I close my eyes, once, twice, then look at him like so many before him. This is unlike any of our other silences. This is a chasm widening, and our friendship will fall over the edge.

“Morgan, those are all things I do with many people. Don’t mistake my love and friendship for you as somehow less because it’s not romantic.” I whisper this, and I see it, the tiny flicker on his face. He’s wishing I had screamed so he can scream back.I know what’s coming next.

“You’re a bitch” He turns and leaves, and I have lost another friend.

I was going to write a story about guilt trips, but I ripped up the ticket you bought me.

I clamp my lips together and set them in a line as every bone in my body curves as I fight collapsing to the floor. I used to think that the worst kind of tired was coming home after a day full of countless meetings, tiresome lectures with monotone professors, and cumbersome conversations with people; I thought it was losing the feeling in your legs after rummaging around work all day long -bussing tables, tending to tedious customers, folding silverware for tomorrow’s lunch rush.

I was wrong. Rejecting a person with the wish for romance etched in their face exhausts me more than finals week in college and gala month at work all in one. I’ve never wanted more than a good, drawn-out flirting session and going back to our lives after. The most fatal kind of restlessness, though, is the moment right before you accept rejection. It’s a hard moment to define, but that’s what makes it so deliberately dull. You’ve gotten past the worst part; anger and heartbreak, but there’s a huge gap between your heartbeats. I can’t process this right now, and God, I need to sleep. Where’s the snooze button on life? Someone needs to invent that as soon as possible.

If you’re reading this, I love you. I love imperfectly, but I love you nonetheless, and I want to hear your stories.

Our culture puts so much of an emphasis on romance as the only acceptable place to show physical affection, and it’s a bullshit stigma that has caused me to lose many friends because they think I’m flirting and want to get in their pants.

Listen, I don’t flirt physically. I flirt with words. My flirting is 60% intellectual combat, 30% blatant innuendos, and 10% bad puns.

Let me whisper “Hello sailor” unironically as I bite your ear while we sit on the really old couch in my living room.

Let me send you texts that will make your blood race.

Let me compliment your writing.

Let me compliment you on your ass because I’ve got my shit together so I don’t have to sneakily get information on your financial situation by complimenting your “stability”. Also, because, I bet you’ve got a great ass.

Let me send you writings and sonnets from Shakespeare, Alice Walker, Romila Barryman, and all of the people I have spent my life re-reading.

If I’m not flirting with you with words, just hold my hand and let’s be friends, you big nerd.