Do I Have To Say the Words?



I know tons of people who think I’m a great writer. They think I’m capable of doing anything with words. On more than one occasion, I’ve proved I can paint a picture with words and paragraphs. I can make you laugh, I can make you cry, I can make you angry- basically, I can make you feel anything I want. Words are my weapons, words are my shield, and words are my way of touching the world.


So why is it that there are only three words in the English language I’m deathly afraid to use? Why can’t I put them in a letter, or say them to someone I care about? Why do I freeze at the mere thought of them?


I’ve already written about how I don’t want to feel anything. Emotions complicate things. They muddle logic and clarity, and without those things to keep me objective, I can’t process information the way I should so I can see a situation for what it is. After getting my heart stomped on so many times, you’d think I’d be practically bloodless by now.


I wish.


If you don’t know what three words I’m talking about, it doesn’t take a genius to figure it out. They’re the same words you tell your wife when you leave the house in the morning. They’re the same words you use when you’re cradling your newborn child. They’re the same ones you use when your pet does something adorable. They’re the same words Paris said to Helen of Troy that started a war. And they’re the same words Romeo and Juliet uttered in each other’s ears right before they committed suicide.


Yeah- THOSE three little words.


They might not mean much to most people; a friend of mine once described them as three one syllable words that weigh less than a feather blowing in the wind. What he meant was, they were meaningless- just a verbal greeting card you could send at any time to be used and thrown away. But I’ve never felt that way.


To me, those three words carry the weight of the world.


Okay, so maybe I’m being too literal. Or I could be too serious. Or maybe I want those words to have a deeper meaning. I don’t know.


I’ve been told more than once that I think too much, but I’m of the opinion that people don’t think enough. Everyone is so busy moving around that they don’t really take the time to see what’s in front of them, how their actions affect the world and the people surrounding them. Maybe if they did, the world wouldn’t be as messed up as it is.


Again, I don’t know.


I’ve really only been in love twice in my life. Sure, I’ve dated a lot- more women than I can remember, and a few that lasted a little longer, but I can barely remember any of them. I may have even had romantic feelings I misinterpreted as love, but those were just pale echoes of what I always knew was missing in my heart.


The problem is, even when I had fallen in love, I couldn’t say the dreaded three words. I always found a way around it. In one case, I waited until they were asleep, and in another, I put it in a card. Chickenshit, I know, but apparently, that’s how I roll. At least, where heavy emotion is concerned. I avoid it like the plague. Actually, I more or less look at love like a bad case of the flu- it makes you queasy and sick, reaches a fever pitch, and then finally dies out.


Saying “I love you” is easier when you don’t particularly care about the person you’re saying it to. I discovered that much when I was married. But when it’s someone you truly feel that way about? You’d think I suddenly grabbed a steak knife and severed my vocal cords. I guess that explains why I found ways to say it without ever really saying it.


But just once, I would like to.


I only need the right girl. A girl who gets me- who laughs at my stupid jokes, loves my writing, and looks at me like I’m her hero. Not asking for much, am I? Thing is, though- it still isn’t enough. I need that spark- the bit of connection that tells me, “You’re the one.” If I found it, nothing could stop me. I could conquer the world. Or die trying.


If I found her, I’d do things differently. If I found her, I’d look her straight in the eye and tell her everything in my heart. Every single thing I’ve held back. I would tear down every single wall and let it come crashing down.


I’d be scared shitless, and I’d probably stumble once or twice, but this is what I would say:


“This is crazy, and I’m probably going to sound like an incoherent mess, but I gotta tell you how I feel. If I don’t, if I have to keep it inside for another minute, I am going to go bat-shit insane. Ever since you entered my life, you’ve changed it so much that I don’t even recognize the person I see in the mirror every morning. At first I hated the change. I hated this thing you turned me into. I preferred being alone. I never wanted to be dragged into the light, but you kept pushing, pulling me into it. You showed me that I could be something I never wanted to be- something more than who I am.


The heart that I thought had turned to stone, you got it beating again, and I still have no idea how you did it. What IS it about you that makes me feel this way? How did you breach my walls, my shields? How? How is it that for the first time in my life, I don’t feel I have to be worthy of somebody like you? Like I already am? Will you tell me? I need to know. Please.


I want to feel angry. I should feel angry because you did this to me. I never wanted this. I never wanted to feel this. I feel like every single emotion is on overload, and I can’t handle it. It only gets worse when I see you or hear your voice. It feels like I just want to explode from happiness. I’m like some giddy, lovesick idiot who can’t control himself, and I hate it, just as much as I need it. I don’t know what I’d do without it. And this last part, this last thing I have to say, I can’t hold it back anymore. If I do, it’s going to crush me. It will kill me if I don’t get it out. Right now.


I love you.


I love how you drive me crazy. I love how you make me want to be better. I love how you make every single shitty thing in life so much more amazing than I ever thought it could be. Hell- YOU’RE amazing. You’re everything I ever wanted in another human being and a few things I didn’t know I wanted.


I love you. Plain and simple, straight to the point, straight from the heart.”


So, yeah- that’s what I would say. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I’m going to throw up.

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