“Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad.” –Aldous Huxley
Here is the truth: I’m not ready to write/talk/feel the truth. I know what it is but I don’t know that I’m ready to do anything about it. I once believed that knowledge was power, now I realize it can be just as confusing to know all the answers. I know where love and I stand—and truthfully, it pisses me off.
I am afraid. I have the words “Live Fearlessly” tattooed on my hip. It’s not because I can’t face my life. It’s because I want to make damn sure I’ve checked myself at the end of every day. Yet for someone who takes so much pride in all this living fearless business, I must admit—I’m scared.
I am afraid of being “too” much: too interesting (as if there were such a thing); too weird; too many battle scars. But at the same time, in this simple dichotomy, I want to do more growing before meeting my someone. I mean have some adventures, fight pirates, collect souvenirs and battle scars, live a life belonging to me and then stand before the Bonnie to my Clyde and say, “Here I am. This is me. Take me as I am.” As Audree, my too-smart-for-her-own-good office assistant told me, “Every woman aspires to be a booty-collecting, mind-blowing pirate.”
The truth is, I am just as afraid of falling in love as I am that I will never fall in love again.
I mention this fear (of happiness? Commitment? What is so terrifying exactly?) at dinner. AC, my best friend’s husband, states poetically, “When you give your heart you risk getting it stomped on—but you do it anyway.” I raise an eyebrow before replying sassily, “Maybe you do. I think at this point I’d rather let someone else do the risking. I’m not there yet.” And that is the truth.
I mention my fears to e.j. Yoder—my former college professor and an expert in international relations and intercultural communication. She married after she was 40, has certainly established a life belonging to her, and has traveled the world collecting souvenirs and battle scars. Her house is covered in photos from China, Bosnia, summers on the Jersey shore. I wonder if at any point she looked around at her life and was terrified by the “too interesting” problem.
”When I met Roberto [her husband of more than 4 years now] I was ready. I wanted to get married, wanted to have a family. I believed I deserved it and furthermore I wanted it,” this woman I admire tells me with a tone of understanding.
How long will it take me to decide I’m finally ready to rip off the commitment Band-Aid and have another honest to God serious relationship?
I ask the guy I’m currently seeing, “What is the truth about love?” I’m half-joking, half-serious as always. We’ve been seeing each other a little over a month and I think we’re both the kind of people who are terrified about these kinds of things. But that’s why it works, for now.
“Love is like a cage match,” he says with a smirk. “Two people enter but only one leaves.” Smart ass. Except that—for now anyway—I completely agree.
–Leah M. Charney
Charney is a sassy yet classy commitment-phobe who always dreamed of being a pirate
Originally published in Women’s Magazine May 2009 issue.