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Quite often the thing that makes me not want to write is why I chose to write here. And also quite often the thing that makes me not want to write is what makes me write better. It’s a Catch-22.

Tonight, I’m pensive and thoughtful, sad and despondent. I’m at an impasse with my significant other (SO), and it’s…well…it’s fucking my shit up. It makes me want to drown myself in all that is bad for me but all that is so very good at the same time, the things that are so good with consequences that are so bad that you just don’t care about them.

I hold sadness like a sponge, and every so often, my eyes leak just a little. And in this impasse, the sponge is saturated and my eyes are overflowing. Or at least they feel as if they are, but only a few drops spill over before I contain it all again.

For explanation purposes here, let’s say the impasse is about an “old piece of furniture”. I made a promise never to bring home any more old pieces of furniture again before discussing it with my SO. He likes the furniture, loves it even, but because I brought it home without first discussing it with him, he does not want it. He wants me to give it away. It’s not about the piece of old furniture, thpugh, it’s about the promise I broke.

And I am struggling because even though I only brought the piece of old furniture home to restore it and then give it away, I’ve now grown accustomed to it.

And over the course of the last three weeks, he has not changed his mind at all to lete keep the furniture because again, his feelings aren’t about the furniture.

It’s never about the furniture. The feelings we have, those that cause us to draw a line in the sand, are usually motivated not by the immediate thing in front of us, which is the symbol of past things we haven’t yet confronted. So our reaction is disproportionate to the current situation, but it’s as if we’ve had enough. We can take no more.

Someone once told me about a couple who’d decided to move in together. While unpacking the boxes, they began loading up their floor-to-ceiling shelves with their books. Upon seeing each others’ different preferences of the books’ arrangements, they began to argue about it. What it really came down to was that each was scared and anxious about living together, about becoming a couple instead of continuing to be independent, this new venture in their lives, and so the arrangement of the books was the only shred of control each of them had left to feel comforted, to feel independent, with all of their fear and anxiety.

And the thing is…it’s never, ever just about the books.

And so that means it’s also never, ever about the old piece of furniture or even the promise I broke in bringing it home without first discussing it with my SO. To react with such angry passion to the broken promise isn’t even about that specific broken promise. It’s about all the ways in which he has given me my way, and all the things I said I’d do but didn’t. It’s about how he has felt all this time but has never voiced until now. And now, when it matters so much more to me than ever before, he decides to draw a line in the sand and say “no.”

It’s never just about the books on the shelf.