We left with Edward demanding to know why everyone else's feelings were more important than his and hers...
"They're not – " you murmur. I raise a brow to you in question. "I don't know, I – I didn't think of it that way. I just…I don't know! I guess I'm afraid of disappointing anyone."
"At the expense of your own happiness?" I counter.
"No. Yes. Geez, I don't know! It's what I do. I told you I probably need therapy!"
I can't help myself and I smile at you. "I don't think you need therapy, Bella. I think you just need to move your own happiness, your own opinions, higher up on your priority list."
You open your mouth to object, but shut it just as quickly. You look at me like I just asked you to solve a complex equation. In that moment, the light bulb goes off for me. I knew I felt like I understood a lot about you, but hearing your reasons, your words – knowing your past relationships with family, guys, friends – suddenly something becomes very clear to me about you, and I need to make sure you see it, too.
"Do you know what I see?" I ask, leaning toward you on folded arms. You nod, wary. "I see a girl who hasn't seen anyone fight for her. I see a girl who pleased her mom because it was easier than getting her mom to be a mom. I see a girl who was good for her dad because she rarely saw him and didn't want him unhappy with her for any reason. I see a girl who thinks when that last guy let her go, it was because she wasn't enough, that she was lacking." Tears spill down your cheeks, but you hold my gaze. "I see a girl who laughs at jokes made at her expense and doesn't fight for herself because she doesn't see anyone else fighting for her. She just wants to float along, raise no ire, give no reason for anyone to be unhappy with her, so that no one else will let her go."
Your face crumples as you bring a hand to your mouth, stifling a sob. I hate to see you hurting, but I press on. You need to understand this if we're going to work.
"But since she never really saw anyone fight for her, and she won't fight for herself, she didn't know what it looked like – she didn't notice when this guy quietly fought to win her over." I reach over, grabbing your free hand between both of mine. "She never sees it or believes it, so she didn't recognize his love and respect for her. She was so afraid of letting other people down, she let him down instead. And herself."
I stop and let you process all I've said. I grab a couple of napkins from the holder and offer them to you. As you take care of your tears, I know I have a little more I want to say. I don't want to make you any unhappier, but I still need to make you see how you made me feel.
"Bella…I kind of get it, okay? I don't want you to have worried about these things, or placed these others' opinions above your own, but in many ways I can see exactly why you acted as you did. But the thing is, it hurt. So fucking much. You're here, and I can only try to trust your words and believe that you really do want this, want me. You telling Angela says the world to me. But you have to believe in this, and in yourself, if we're going to work. You have to not be looking at every turn for me to leave or find something wrong with you. And for fuck's sake, get over the age thing – it's a number, it's not who you are, and it doesn't matter. At all. You have to realize that what you want is worth having, even if not everyone likes it or understands. This is your life. I want in, but I won't be able to carry this forever by myself." I grab both of your hands in mine, bringing them to my mouth. "You have to fight for us, too. I can't and won't do it all by myself."
With a kiss to your knuckles, I close my eyes and hold your hands. A short silence that feels like eternity is interrupted by a sniffle and your choked, "Edward." I look up to your anguished face.
"I'm so, so, s-s-sorry!" you wail, giving in to the wracking sobs you've been holding back. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry! I love you, and I know I screwed this up, and I'm just stupid and crazy and I sabotaged the only relationship that has ever felt like home to me because I was afraid and stupid, and I don't want to be without you, and I love you, I – I'll fight for us, I swear it, if you'll have me…" you gulp in air, and I can't take it any longer. I immediately swing myself to your side of the booth and grab you fully into my arms.
You just gave me the last thing I was waiting to hear, needed to hear. It sounds an awful lot like forever to my relieved heart.
Funny thing...that whole epiphany and subsequent psychoanalysis of Bella by Edward? Never even thought of it until yesterday. Wasn't planned, it just...felt right and came out. I certainly hope it made sense to you all.
Do we all feel better? Is Bella out of the doghouse? I know DaniWithGreenEyes was her toughest sell!
I was so, so happy with your responses to Bella's story. I continue to be AMAZED by your response and interest. Thank you, thank you, thank you a million times... xo-Holly