You make me uncomfortable. You weigh heavily on me. You complain loudly. You are always there and you are always in the way.
I do not think I live a bad life. Not that I believe in moral absolutes; people are not wholly good or bad. But what I mean is that I live modestly, or at least that I try to do as little damage to the world as I can. I detest the popular equation of healthiness with godliness. If a balanced diet, in this navel-gazing age, is a sign of the most innocent being, then my nutritional indifference is my guilt.
You are not indifferent. You are acid, a growling, gurgling monster, that I must give up my time and energies to placate and neutralise. And each day I wake, aware of you and your still quiet demands, but knowing that they will grow in volume throughout the day with no care for my needs, only yours. And I cannot believe that you would choose to loom over my life so exclusively, forever so blatantly cruel. You force me to think only of my illness and my health, though both are you.
I am not saying that I am consistently kind. There are days when I push too hard, when I work beyond my means and take out my exhaustion on you. And there are other times I find myself listless in the face of your incessant grumbling. My apathy – my refusal to move, to interact, to eat – causes you such torment. And I know that there is more I could do, there is always more that I could do to make peace between us, to offer more than I take. But you are not my first concern, I cannot be so inward looking as to give up the world for you.
Your fault is your greed. You claim you need when I know you want. Your childishness is at times intolerable. The sugar highs and the sugar lows: these erratic changes in your temperament render you absurd. Can you not feel how the fist is pulled back in the action of indulgence, and how it flies forward with such force on the instance of regret?
I, in my attempts to co-operate, would try to supervise you and to tend to you, but not over-indulge. I would simultaneously give you nourishment with the milk that I drink and strengthen you with the air that I breathe. I would attempt to give you truly what you need, not to think of you every single minute of every single hour, but to commit reasonable thought into how I behave towards you and attempt regularity, evenness and consistency.
You would spit back at me in anger what I have tried to nourish you with. You cry out against these limitations as if they are the most dreadful punishments. Yours is not a pride that would be tainted by a mere consideration, only a total dominance.
If I perceive correctly what has festered between us, it is your longing for power over me. I am in control. You are not. And yet, out of spite, you kick out at me. You demand me to submit, to do as you say or to endure your needling – a passive aggressive curdling that corners me. And suddenly I am acting against my will. And when I try to stand against you, to bear the sharp edges and maintain my course? The power you exert over me at these moments leaves me curled up in a foetal position, sweating out my obstinance and internally begging you for mercy.
You besiege me. It sometimes feels that you are more outside than in. That everything that you do that seeks to hurt me is written on my face in the greyness of my skin, in the jaundice around my eyes and the acridity of my breath. You attempt to rob me of my vitality, which you seem to jealously covert from the darkness in which you live, and to force me to hide away also from the light.
I feel that we are at an impasse. I don’t know how we can go on. And yet I know that we must. Bound together, I can no more leave you than you me. There are times when I long to walk away. I sometimes wonder if you feel the same. This is pulling me apart.
You are inflexible, deaf to my pleas. I wish that I could reason with you, that putting forth a logical argument would make any difference, that between us we could come up with a more practical solution. But you are all gut instinct and you know that I live entirely in my head. And that is why I am only left with ultimatums.
So here is my proposal. I am at this point willing to give away a great deal to appease you but I refuse to live for you. I have seen some of the most easily-led minds of my generation lost to macrobiotics. I point blank refuse to be one of them. And so instead, I ask of you, give me twenty years. I do not want to live forever, but I want to live completely. Twenty years to live my life at the pace that I see fit. To not be beholden to you when I make every choice or to hold my breath in fear of your reprisals. To race on and on and not run down every half mile.
You can consider this an insult, and I am sure you will. But this is what I beg of you and in this I give over my power to you. I can only hope that you will consider this proposal and perhaps, on some leftover feeling of kinship, grant me what I ask.
I do not fear for my safety or my wellbeing after that distant point. The acidic recriminations, the burst ulcers of punishment, the irritable syndromes that I am sure you will force upon me. I will gladly trade my future self for my present, to live and to digest on my own terms.