I know what you think. You think I want to fix you, or at least change you, make you something or someone other than what you are. That’s what your paranoia tells you, at least, isn’t it? I can almost see it whispering in your ear sometimes, twisting my words before they reach you so what you hear is only a queer shadow of what I said. But try to understand my meaning when I say I don’t want to fix you. What I mean is, I want you as you are: sick and mad and broken. I mean I want to be at your side for all of this, even the nightmares and the blood. Even that crippling paranoia. I mean I want to watch you die, and I will do so unflinchingly. I can’t offer you much, but I can offer you that. Someone at your side until, and past, the inevitable end. Someone with you in the dark. Your paranoia wants you to believe I only love the parts of you I think I can fix, but that’s a lie – I love most fiercely the parts of you that cannot, will not, ever be fixed.
If I wanted, I could never feel anything again. If I wanted, there are a hundred different ways to shutdown, to shut out, to numb myself beyond all care. Yet I do not want this. I choose pain. Pain means lucidity. Pain means you can think, that beneath the torment you are still in control. Every dull ache or sharp stab of white-hot pain means my body still fights. Could I spend my final months or years in a medicated haze, pretending that I’m not rotting inside? I could. I won’t. I would rather experience every moment of agony with the acute clarity of the dying than relinquish even a moment of control. My lover chooses to drown his sorrows in whatever cocktail of liquor and opiates works best that day, but not me. I choose awareness. I choose pain. I choose to face the end without flinching.
First he tries pleading. “Beloved. Darling. Baby. Open the door. This can’t be like everything else. You don’t get to hide this from me.”
Then he tries threatening. “I’ll break the door down if you don’t unlock it. You know I will. Just let me in.”
Then he tries guilting. “Fine. Whatever. Die alone in there, if you want. I don’t care. I’m going back to bed.”
A couple minutes later he kicks in the bathroom door anyway, face contorted in a mixture of anxiety and anger that on another day would be highly amusing. But it’s hard to find much of anything amusing as I turn my palm over to show him the spatters of blood, little droplets to match those glistening on the rim of the toilet and drying on my chapped lips. The anger and anxiety leech away, along with the color in his face, and whatever he was going to say remains unspoken as he sinks down onto the tile next to me with a weary sigh.