A lifelong friend of mine, Kai, owns a market corner in my heart. For as far as I can remember, he has been a pure and impeccable human being. A few weeks ago, he called me to share that his decade old relationship had gone through a crisis, and though everything is now back to normal, he struggles to feel the relationship in the same way.
Kai never got to be a dumb kid. Dumb maybe, but never a kid. Everyone called him a “little grownup” and he was so proud of that: being good and following the rules. He was so faultless that he ended up being a teacher’s pet. But then he grew up to be an adult, and there was no teacher to please. That’s why he made up some idea of what people expect from a noble man. Making a nice home and raising well-behaved kids … not making waves … not making troubles, and keeping his voice down. And he went along with that wanting to keep on being good. He mostly stayed quite. So quiet that he forgot the sound of his own voice. People almost forgot that he was there. His wife forgot he was there.
Years passed in the same manner more or less. Through a series of social interactions, Kai found Gemma who didn’t like him very much. Gemma didn’t consider Kai to be kind or good. And Kai went along with it. But he struggled with this thing he’s been afraid of all along. The fear that someone would think less or ill of him. Then oddly, he found Gemma’s ill-feeling towards him to be a relief. At least someone saw him. Someone didn’t think he was invisible. Jumbled and unsettled, he no longer knew where he stood with Gemma and their dry fling dissolved.
Kai’s happily-ever-after project resumes. But it doesn’t resume on the same terms. He got to sense what it means to be perceived as imperfect. Though he has patched the relationship together, the patches show.