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Dear Caroline,

The last few days have been stressful. I’ve been hesitant unburden myself to you to add to your stress. Today you vented your frustration at my unwillingness to communicate with you the way I want you to communicate with me. And you’re right. I should.

But I’m worried. I know this situation isn’t what you wanted. I know that you wanted this time to focus on yourself and not have to worry about anyone else. I know that you agreed to do this for me.

So I am hesitant to unload on you because I don’t want you to ever regret this decision. That’s why I wanted you to go and explore to begin with. Because I didn’t want to be any part of the reason if you regretted not going.

Here’s what’s going on with me:

The first week after seeing you is always the hardest. It always takes me a day or two to find my balance again. I’m learning to do it more quickly as I’m getting more practiced, but I haven’t mastered it yet. It just so happens that this same adjustment period happened to coincide with your move and being busy at work. So I’ve been uncharacteristically needy. I’ve needed you to tell me it’s okay, that this too shall pass, that you love me, all the things you remind me of when I’m feeling blue. It’s selfish, I know. I can’t monopolize your time like that.

In the middle of that, trying to find my balance again, fell this weekend. I loved going out to support your mom, I love her so much, but I don’t know that I was clear about how hesitant I was to meet Jill. How afraid I was that it would cause problems for you. How I had no idea what to say to her and my fear that no matter what I said or how I said it, that it would end badly. I cried all night Friday night. I rehearsed what I might say based on hundreds on scenarios, every conceivable angle I imagined she would or could come from. I had hoped to be able to talk to you about it before I went through with it.

So I did it. I went out to support your mom. I let her lead the interaction, as I always do. I was introduced to Jill and tried to talk to her, to offer my help and support for what she might be going through having you, her best friend, her family, so far away. I had no idea that it would be the wrong thing. I had no idea that trying to remain positive and upbeat would be wrong. I had thought it would be better to appear strong, to not seem lost without you, so she would understand that I support what you are doing and that I’m not begging you to come home and take care of me. I’m not trying to control your life, your decisions, or your actions.

I called you after to try to make sense of it, to talk about it, but you were stressed from work and needed to vent. I listened. It seemed like the wrong time to talk about my fears and make it into a bigger deal than it needed to be. You were so excited to go to the farmer’s market before it got rained out. I didn’t want to be that rain cloud.

I worked on your portrait. The one I started because I want to study every inch of your face. I want to know it better than I know my own.

Sunday we didn’t talk much. I thought we might after you got out of work, but when I didn’t hear from you by 2am, I knew something was wrong. You were exhausted from work and the stress of moving and bills… It seemed like the wrong time to cry and whine about something so silly as my weekend.

We didn’t talk much yesterday. It was okay for a little while, but work was busy for you and you haven’t had the downtime to sneak me my “I love you” texts. I cried myself to sleep last night wondering if this is how it starts. If, despite my best efforts, I’m not good enough. If I’m too needy. If there’s something I should more or less of. If I should remind you more that I love you or back off and give you space.

By lunch today I couldn’t take anymore. I’m sorry for forcing you to talk to me, but I feel you. I know when you’re upset. It’s so strong and so powerful that I’m having difficulty getting through my day because I know I’m feeling something but I don’t know what or why.

The pressure in my chest has loosened a little, but I still feel like there’s more. I feel like you’re starting to build a wall. I don’t want to break down that wall if you feel like you need it, but I do want to stand here for as long as it takes, whispering to you between the cracks until you don’t need it.

I want to stand here through the storm, even if I get wet.

Anything you need me to do, I will. Anything you ask of me.

Even if you ask me to stand back while you build.

I love you so, so much, honey.