We’ve been arguing for days when you stop. I stare at you expectantly but your expressions are airtight and your indignation is smothered. You don’t want to keep going, you say, and you give no acknowledgement of defeat. You remember how I always think you’re giving up when you’re actually just quitting, there’s a difference. And how every time you would say “I’m too tired to talk about this,” and I would say “then let’s talk about it later.” You remember that although I will yield on a dime, I am still unrelenting.
Because I won’t accept a weak defense. I’ll take it as a sign that I’m righter and smarter than you when the truth is that I’m just less emotional about some things. You’re not stupid. You justify your beliefs. You’re always taking note of just how far I’ll go to prove my point and making sure you go just as far, cordiality be damned, we’re both adults. Just because you tire out first doesn’t mean you’re wrong, which is why you also remember how each time you would then respond, “Fine. I’ll prove you wrong tomorrow.”
But now you’re stopping. You’re not just temporarily tired. You’re so tired that you don’t think you’ll ever be un-tired enough to have this argument. You’re not enjoying yourself. You’re not enjoying me. And worst of all you’re wondering if that really does mean that I am righter and smarter. Because you worry, deep down, that if you were right and smart, you would be the one winning the argument. In a last ditch effort you tell me that I’ve hurt your feelings and I can tell that it’s true. At least, it’s true that you feel hurt because of what I said. What’s wrong with me, I think to myself? Why do I care more about being right than I do about our relationship? You say nothing. I say nothing either, at first, then – “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt you.”
But I’m not sorry. Because it’s not my fault that you feel hurt. You committed just as hard to the argument as I did, and you’re never a gracious winner either. You can’t control how you feel so I’m not going to blame you for feeling hurt, but that doesn’t mean you get to blame me. We were shoving at each other with such might that when you suddenly stopped, of course I knocked you over. But you didn’t fall because I pushed you, you see, you fell because you stopped pushing back.
And you don’t appreciate me saying this to you.
Why not shut the hell up before I say something I’ll regret, you suggest. But I know from experience that this is just something people say when they’ve lost and want you to stop scoring bonus points on them. Because not only did I win the argument, I saw through you. I saw through your attempt to pin the blame on me, unfeeling, insensitive, robotic, me, always committing fouls against emotional, experienced, you. I was convinced that I didn’t understand feelings, just because I didn’t experience them like you did. That I didn’t understand empathy just because I disagreed with your empathy. Well fuck that, I feel things too.
You tell me you don’t like this side of me. Well I don’t exist to be liked by you. You ask me if I like this side of me. Touché. You suggest that I take some time to calm down, which is silly because I am dead calm even though my heartbeat is as fast as how calm I am, which is very. You know that sometimes I get righteous and stubborn. You get that way too, it’s why we argue. It’s why, you used to think, we are a good match. Because I am formidable. You thought. But now you feel sorry for me. If this is how I really am, then I’m in for a future full of of frustration. I’m not worth the fights, and everyone else I meet for the rest of my life is going to realise that eventually. And then I start to feel sorry for you. Because if you can’t own up and be honest about yourself, then you’ll never be able to accept yourself. You’re not worth the fights, and you’ll probably never understand why.