I think the reason that I tend to shy away from relationships and emotion often is because I feel too deeply. When I start to love someone, I can’t draw myself away from them; suddenly I am completely dependent on their presence in my life. Being away from them hurts, but being near them is a whole different pain. It’s the pain of my head regulating my actions so my heart isn’t wounded in the end. It orders me, “Don’t stand too close to him, avoid physical contact as much as possible” and “Don’t laugh too loud at his jokes, quit smiling like a dumb fool”, all in the attempt to keep him from finding out. If he knew how much I need to see him and hear him, how high my heart leaps when I read his name; he would have too much power over me. Telling him is like handing my heart over to him and begging “please, don’t hurt it.” With my heart he can see every scratch, every bruise, every weakness that defines me. With my heart he can control me and break me, if he chooses. The worst part of giving away my heart is not waiting around for him to injure it, but waiting around for him to give it back; for the day he finally says, “Here, take it. I don’t want it anymore.” It’s whole and untouched, but the weight of it is unbearable. I had grown so used to him carrying it for me and now it was my responsibility again. Most women leap at the moment to thrust their heart into another man’s hands again, but I am reluctant. Having it back, I grow used to the heaviness of every emotion and the idea of giving it away fills me with fear. Having it back, I remember the strength of my independence and how weak, how dependent, I was without it. Having it back, I remember the person I was before him and the person I want to continue to be. For some reason, I always lose myself in love. I start trying to be the person they want, and I lose the person I am. Falling out of love is always a huge relief for me because I can finally stop pretending. I’m not gentle, kind, fragile, loving, passive, or perfect. I’m flawed, rude, sarcastic, rough, independent and competitive. And I’m okay with that. I like who I am and I hate that love changes me; and for that reason, I avoid it.