Things I Can’t Say
Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Third Degree Curves.
My daughter posted on her private blog a list of 10 things she wishes she could say but she can’t, for varying reasons, and it made me think about what I wish I could say but I can’t, also for varying reasons. And why I can’t say them.
Many of the important things I need to say to people, I can tell them. That became obvious during this exercise. But the ones I can’t say? Not just ones I can’t say (there are many I can’t, won’t, and don’t care about) but what about the ones I wish I could say but can’t?
It’s not a matter of a lack of courage. Sometimes it’s a matter of opportunity, as some of the people I’d like to say things to aren’t in my life any more and I have no idea where they are now. Sometimes it’s fear that by confronting someone now, their frail health will be upset. Mostly, it’s an effect of emotion. Either I know how much the words will hurt or be denied or what they’ll stir up in someone else or especially in me when I try to choke them out. That’s an intensity in myself that I fear, and probably makes most people glad I’m not telekinetic a la “Carrie.”
My list is longer than my daughter’s, but I’ve lived longer and had more things to go unsaid. So here they are, without naming names, and intentionally in no particular order of importance or chronology:
- I thought you were the greatest boss in the world… and then one day, you couldn’t keep your hands to your- self. I felt betrayed by your actions. I was terrified of be- ing alone with you at the office or on a business trip after that time when you cornered me and wouldn’t stop kissing me and I cried and begged you to stop groping me and just let me go. I left a job I absolutely loved because I was afraid of being raped. I could have turned you in for sexual harassment but who would have believed me? You were a fine, upstanding church man and a highly respected leader in the organization. To this day, I am un- comfortable wearing pants because of the comments you made about watching me walk away from your desk.
- I love you, but I can’t bear being around your constant negativity. I understand why you are the way you are, but I just can’t be in your space for that long at a time.
- You surprised me. I didn’t expect to meet someone who understood me and liked me as I am and to find that kind of connection with anyone, ever, and I fell really hard for you. I didn’t expect to, especially so soon after my divorce. It was too early to tell you how I felt, and then it was too late. I wish you could have been open in your feelings toward me, but I understand why, and you know that I understand why— “the vantage point from which you lick your wounds.” And yes, I know that you’ve had your share of fuckups and that we could make listing them an Olympic sport if you wanted, but those things in your nature made you very human to me, very real, and I appreciated sharing myself with someone real and that you shared so much of yourself with me. I’m not sure what it takes to stand the test of time, but my feelings for you have not changed.
- The walls between our offices are thinner than you think.
- You didn’t do anything wrong. You were a good friend to me, from the very beginning. I know you were hurt that I stopped coming around your house anymore and I know I was evasive about why and you thought it was something you’d said or done. It wasn’t you. It was your husband’s propositions.
- I will never teach you the Craft. I took a vow not to teach the Craft to fools.
- I know you’re bisexual. And I know the deep shame you feel for preferring your own sex. It’s not that I’m not sympathetic to your worries. If you’d been honest with me, I could have been supportive and we might have had a lovely friendship. Instead, you went to tremendous, intentional, heinous lengths to deceive me, even to the point of costing me what I hold dear, just to protect your secret. It didn’t matter if you destroyed me as long as you got what you wanted. Because of you, I struggle with trust issues. Fuck you and the horse you rode in on.
- They revived you and gave you a second chance at life. You’ve spent it wreaking havoc and pain. It would have been better if you’d stayed dead.
- I love you so much, but sometimes it just hurts to be around you. I know you’re in hell, but there is nothing I can do. Only you can fix your problems. I’m sorry that life is so awful for you. I can’t make it go away. I feel guilty because I know you need me to bolster you, yet the more you depressed and needy you are, the less I come around because it just depresses me so much.
- I still don’t know what happened. You said it was what I wanted, but it wasn’t. You saw only what you wanted to see and made the pieces fit the image your own insecurities called forth.
- You are just about the sorriest excuse for a husband, father, and man that I’ve ever known. Except for your mommy, you’ve never done anything for anyone other than yourself. I know about the women and I know about your crimes. The statute of limitations has run out, but you’re still guilty of every manipulation tactic in the book. You don’t care who gets hurt as long as you’re on top.
- I respected you as a teacher and leader, and yet, when you had a question about a rumor about me, you jumped to conclusions. You never asked me. You lectured me from afar and put me down. You were willing to believe the worst. Then, when the rumor was disproved, you expected things to be like they were again between us. I don’t respect you anymore, as a teacher, leader, or a person.
- I’ve seen you when you didn’t know I was looking out the window. I know you’re faking your injury.
- I wish you’d been stronger. I wish that you hadn’t been so weak that you couldn’t stand up for me. You seemed so supportive but when faced with the opinions of leaders in our field, all you could do was ride the fence and hang me out to dry. I know that you betrayed my confidences in an effort to gain a better position with others and that you violated your own ethical code when- ever it suited you.
- I wish that on the first day we met, I hadn’t told you exactly what my hot buttons were. I gave you the perfect tools to hide your lies. I made it easy for you to use me.
- Would you pleasepleaseplease change the song on your cell phone or turn it down or off or something? Or maybe just tell your kids to stop calling you 20 times a day? I know you way outrank me, but I can hear your phone through 3 walls, and if it goes off again, I just might crack, rush into your office, and slam the annoying thing against the wall!
- I want to trust you, but every time we talk, the subject somehow gets back to my investments, the size of my house, and how much money I make…or how much you think I make. Can we have just one conversation that doesn’t revolve around materialistic concerns?
- If you persist in hurting people I love, I will make sure you never see them again or have any contact with them again.
- I’ve seen bad mothers, but you’re among the worst. I can’t believe the things I’ve heard you admit to doing for fun to mess with their minds. You have great kids and they deserve better than you.
- I know that you were a couple months shy of re- marrying when you called me, wooing me as your business partner and the whole time trying to string me along like you loved me until I signed the contract. I didn’t buy it. There was something in your voice, if not any of your many promises, that gave me the feeling not just that you were in a relationship but that you were getting married that week and you needed to close the deal with me first. I couldn’t explain it then, but the intuition was so strong that I never signed a contract with you to yoke me into your life on your own terms. My intuition was only a little off. You didn’t get married that week, but you did take your bride-to-be on a romantic little trip—where you called me from to make sure I didn’t back out of the deal—and as your daughter later said, you married a few months thereafter. I’m glad I listened to my intuition. I tells me you’re a liar and always have been, and that I’ll never let you back into my life.
Some of these, I may eventually get to say when/if I see the person again, but most I can’t say because they’re heavier emotions to deal with and they have conse- quences not just for me.
And for most of them, they’re better left unsaid.