Two sides of the river

I am afraid. I wonder if you can see that. Sometimes, when the night is dark and I am alone, the fear comes and covers me like a shabby old blanket that I never wanted. Others, it manifests itself like a pill that got stuck in my throat and now scratches the esophagus, brings tears to the eyes and provokes such suffocating desperation that I become aggressive and defensive – towards you and anyone else who dares to be curious.

No, of course you can’t see any of that. The same ruthlessness that drives me to take everything I can, everything I need, is also responsible for the walls that I built, so thick and strong that they seem indestructible even to me. For the most part I don’t complain about them; after all, they hide from the rest of the world the little girl coiled up on a faraway corner, crying her heart out.

And because I have these walls, I know you sense them, being a person who has them too. You sense them, but do nothing about it. I don’t take offense in that. After all, I understand that neither of us will give up the act of being strong. I can’t lower my guard and you don’t have the guts to destroy the wall.

In that moment, we are like two sides of the river, one watching the other, knowing what’s happening on the opposite side, but incapable of risking ourselves in the turbulent waters to shorten the distance.

Except on those moments when the rage is greater than the fear. In those few seconds, when pride and dignity lose ground to fury, I see your walls and what’s behind them, and the truth is like a heavy blow whose hurt I will never be able to overcome. I see that your side is just like mine: there’s a little girl crying behind the walls; she will never stop crying.

Because the pain of seeing my most guarded secret in you is so strong, so unbearable, so greater than the rage and the fear, my first instinct is that of a river: I move on. And you, lost in the senselessness of a life so contrary to what you expected, don’t realize that for a terrible, crucial moment, my walls were gone, leaving me as vulnerable and exposed as you.

Each one of us goes back to the margin and the normality of life forces us to forget this insuperable distance. You don’t notice all the fear that haunts me. And I, because I need those walls so bad, don’t acknowledge them.

And then they are only fears, and I am so focused on the river that nothing else matters. Moving on, always moving on.

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