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in college i was in love with a boy. for two years it was a torturous kind of longing because he didn’t know. i never said anything to him, well, i never said anything that indicated what was true. it was consuming at times, literally paralyzing. sometimes he would walk into a room i was in and i couldn’t even look at him. the intensity of feeling in my body painfully enlivening… | Secret Keepers by Emily Joy Rosen

in college i was in love
with a boy
for two years
it was a torturous kind of longing
because he didn’t know

i never said anything to him
well, i never said anything that indicated
what was true
it was consuming at times
literally paralyzing

sometimes he would walk
into a room i was in
and i couldn’t even look at him
the intensity of feeling in my body
painfully enlivening

i was the walking dead
and near him i felt electricity
surging through me

but i was aware
it was coming from him not me
and i loved him too much
to burden him with fixing me

so i thought i’d heal
and come back for him

i had a fantasy
that went the same way every time,
me wearing a vintage kelly green t-shirt
worn thin from years of being passed around
i had on light blue denim with shredded knees
and my hair, naturally wavy
was for the first time, not straightened and wild

i felt casually cool and tenderly invincible
as i walked through the door
and locked eyes with him

“i love you,”
i said
and he with a smile said,
“finally…”

my favorite part was that my voice came out
confident and warm
at this time in my life,
i would often lose my voice around men
so hearing my voice here
felt specifically important to me

most of my fantasies during these years
were nightmares
haunted by trauma and suffering
so this imagining was my favorite place to go

i used to replay the scene in my mind
for years after college
and it became a safety net
when relationships i was in
were going wrong

it wasn’t that i had any contact with him
but in my mind
i thought,
well if he or he or he rejects me
if he leaves me
maybe this was meant to be

in my last relationship
one of the things we did
was an exercise around
“closing all the doors”
closing the escape routes
we typically leaned on in relationships
to avoid getting hurt too much
to avoid being the one more vulnerable
to avoid being the one who was more invested,
more committed

the open doors,
the escape route in your relationship
could be literally cheating, a sexual affair
but it can also be
an emotional affair
the way we intoxicate with alcohol,
weed or drugs
the way we check out with food
watch endless hours of pornography
work all the time
or intentionally disconnect emotionally
while saying words we do not feel

it’s all the ways we avoid intimacy
and assure the person we are with
never really gets all of us
and lets us hold dear to the knowing
that i don’t really need you,
which is true…
but there is a way to feel that
without operating deceptively
that still allows for deep connection
and sincerity

we actually talked about
the ways in which we engaged
with fantasies
as well
it was edgy for me
and hard
i love my dream world
and never have shared much of it with anyone

but i got how it was just another way of me
escaping
it was my open door
and the way in which i kept myself
just a little out of my body
always

it wasn’t a conversation
about how i needed to stop
fantasizing
but rather, about how to be honest
about when i was checking out
and where i chose to go

the result of this
was a level of closeness
i had never before experienced
with anyone

and it wasn’t nearly as terrifying
as i thought it would be
rather, i experienced a deep sense of peace
and i literally felt every part of me exposed
and safe
simultaneously

but this was a completely different kind of safe
than i had ever felt before
it wasn’t based on a promise
that i will be with you forever
or a story
that i will never leave

rather, it was a safety in knowing
that i let down all my guards
i closed all my doors
i opened every last piece of me
and i was exposed
and okay
with me

and so i was able to connect
from a completely different place
a place that i made safe
not by assuring i had 100 exit strategies
but by assuring
i could be with me

so i invite you to look at this place in you
not just in romantic relationships
but deep friendships
what’s the type of container you create
what do you ask of those who love you
and you love
and what do you provide

because what i can tell you
is that when you let yourself truly surrender
to relationship
you can experience something that feels
a bit like a dream
and way better
than any fantasy

is there a door
you want to close?

❤️ emily joy rosen

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