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  • Melissa

I Can’t Give It To You




“This relationship is so painful. Because I can’t give you what you want.”


In session, with my limbs tangled into each other, my breath shallow, and the discomfort of sitting there, asking for something, holding my entire body hostage, these words rang kind, compassionate, and real.


And even… validating. Because you called this thing going on here, eating up my very soul, a relationship. You gave it a name, you validated that something was happening between the two of us. And also, that despite the longing I have for it (or because of it?) it is painful, and hard to face.


But then at home, after the rush of the day dies down, after the sheer amount of things cluttering my brain fade into oblivion and sleep eludes me, the words get mangled into something else.

They take on new dimensions. And it feels so much more real, now that you are a fog in my brain — a cross between an ogre who will hurt me and a tired old granny dozing off in boredom as I sit there in silence.


The words now sound like derision.

“I can’t give you what you want.”

You deluded yourself into thinking you’ll get something here, but you ain’t getting it, and yet you keep barking up this tree. It’s time to separate dreams from reality; I hope these words put you in place.


These words now make me feel unrealistic. Greedy and needy. The feeling that I’m doing this thing wrong, that I’m always asking for too much.

“I can’t give you what you want.”

Me, who can’t just lean in to this half-fakeness like every other therapy client, but must check the veracity of every feeling and word — realness that isn’t, and nobody is going to convince me otherwise.


And you grow more distant and rigid as the days go by.

“I can’t give you what you want.”

A reality check. You are one of many here and there’s a system to this thing. It’s not anything past a place for you to get better, and I’m just facilitating your healing; this thing going on between us? It’s not real. It’s just training wheels that will come off as soon as you are ready to keep your balance.


The words are a reminder that I’m alone in this, at the end of the day.

“I can’t give you what you want.”

Your childhood has passed, chances were missed. At this point of the game, it’s you who has to be there for you. I’ll show you how, but my self, my presence, it’s just a stand-in so you can take these concepts further.


And always, the words define the distance you keep, which makes me want to close up.

“I can’t give you what you want.”

I won’t get right into this mess with you, but am a removed observer. I will stick to my boundaries and keep myself safe. I won’t shatter my equilibrium with your dysregulation and remember what my role here is.


And you’re right. You’re right with every bit of it.

And yet, I don’t feel like opening up ever again.

Because opening up means I need to believe you do care, you do get impacted by my pain.

That this means something to you and that you can contain all this for me.


And every time I fell for it in the past, I learned that it was just a delusion.

When I allowed myself to let go, to mellow in your presence, your boundaries came down sharp, drawing clear lines between us.


And then the pain was too much for me. I won’t let it happen again.


So, once again, I’ve reached an impasse.

But this time, I feel I’ve exhausted every angle and loophole and denounced them, and there really is no way to go from here.



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