Stretching the line

“Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.” – Khalil Gibran

breaking point

I once had a crush on a boy who told me on our third date that he was an open book, and that he could see that I wasn’t. And I, being the closed book that I was, was happy to sit there and let him launch into a wordy analysis of what he thought I was, without conceding to anything. And, to my chagrin, he was relatively accurate.

“It’s not a bad thing to be a closed book. You don’t say very much, but you watch and listen and commit everything to memory. So you absorb and absorb everything from everyone around you, and when you do actually decide to voice your opinions, you definitely don’t hold back. In other words, God help any man you love who pisses you off.”

He probably didn’t realize it, but he was basically telling me what he thinks happens when I reach my breaking point. I suppose it’s no surprise why I had a crush on him.

It feels as though I’ve spent close to two years teetering on the edge of that fine, somewhat tattered line people like to call their breaking point, and it has been an excruciatingly irritating position to be in. While I will admit that I pretty much placed myself on that edge to begin with, it doesn’t make it any better that I’ve gotten absolutely no help from the precise few people who have the power to help me off the line. The result is almost two years of bitterness, rage and hatred all threatening to snowball into a verbal tirade that I have no doubt I will regret.

As I said before, when a person reaches their breaking point, there is literally no coming back from it. There is no taking back that moment of raw, brutal honesty that defines the very reason for their unhappy circumstances. There is no more room to be sorry, to be loving, or to be kind, because they know they have exhausted all their efforts in getting what they wanted, and are ready to admit defeat and walk away before they can hurt themselves any further.

I always thought — and I still do — that I had a breaking point, and when the time came, I would reach it and completely let go of everything I’ve hung on to that has defined my life and the pain I’ve put myself through. But time and time again, just when I think I’ve reached it, I end up bouncing back and stretching that line a little further, thinking that if I could just be a little more patient, wait just a little while longer, everything would turn out all right. And time and time again, I turn away from that breaking point, terrified that if I do reach it, it would be too late to turn back even if I wanted to.

But no longer. As I see that line approaching yet again, I know that the trick is not to break it, or even back away from it, but really to manipulate my way around it. I know now that I’m willing to do whatever it takes to deal with the unhappy circumstances in my life, and if I must be cold, silent and distant to drive my point home, then I will gladly spend two, three, even four weeks living in a hell that has literally frozen over.

Because I realize now that when it comes to certain things — and love, unfortunately, happens to be one of them — that taut, white-hot line known as the breaking point is only ever as far as we ourselves place it.

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