‘Now I Know Why You Did That’

Now I know why you did that.

I know because I just watched myself doing the same thing, and I immediately made the connection. What is that they say about empathy? Something about walking a mile in someone’s shoes.

I responded to your text late at night after he left, when I hadn’t thought about you in weeks. And so now I know why I occasionally hear from you out of the blue, and late at night, too.

And it isn’t because you are in love with me, or that you secretly want to be with me, or any of the reasons I entertained. Because texts late at night and out of the blue aren’t how love looks. I know that now.

It was a cry for help, a lapse in self-control. Those are more likely at nighttime. The darkness houses our subjectively shameful thoughts and impulses. Subjectively, because all shame is. It doesn’t exist outside of us.

Now I know that like me, you were probably trying to escape a feeling. One that felt too much to bear. My feeling was that specific sort of loneliness: when you’re physically close to someone you like, but at an emotional distance from them. We do not have a name for it in English yet.

What were you escaping?

The instinctive thing we do is hardly ever the answer, acceptance is. But acceptance is hard, and being reactive is easy, reliable. And easy and reliable fits the bill at times.

When I realized why you did that, it upset me a little. Because now I know for sure that you do not truly care about me. But if you did, that would be a problem, because I am not in love with you.

The ego is a funny thing.


I think I know why you do that.

You have your phone between you and I when we are together. It is there although it has been six months since I saw you, and you have been asking me to spend time with you.

And now I am here in front of you, but you cannot focus, because you are ‘in a funk’. Actually you’ve always been in a funk, which is why I do not spend time with you.

I feel frustrated with you. But not so much, because I know why you do that.

The fact that I do not put my phone between us is not because I’m better than you. It is because my emotional weaknesses are different. Now I know what yours are, I know why you do that. And it is not because you wish to insult me. You do that because in a way, you do not know how not to do it.

Although I know why you do that, it is still not okay. I am not willing for that behavior to be a part of my relationship with you, or any of my relationships.

Empathizing is different to embracing.


I think I know why you did that. But I could be wrong.

Because I don’t know exactly how it is to walk in your shoes. I only have my ability to see things from your perspective. And it isn’t flawless, that ability. I am still refining it.


Why did I just do that?

Not to even try to understand is unthinkable.

‘Anything you can do…’

I know why you did that.

Because even though I haven’t done what you did, I can imagine doing it if the feeling was powerful enough. I am capable of everything you do. That acknowledgement lives inside my heart now. It has to.

I know why you did that because increasingly, I know why I do what I do. How else can I stand next to you?

Although the lens is slightly different for us all, we have the same filters. The happy filter. The despair one. Anger, envy, pure hate. I can be with your filters, as I have been with mine. 

Nothing you can do would make me balk from you.


Now I know why you did that, I neither accept nor support your actions. Knowing why just means I don’t add confusion to the gamut of emotions I feel right now.

Now I know why you did that, I can effectively respond. Which only ever means one thing: compassion. Compassion, which isn’t always gentle, but is never not strong. Unlike indifference, blame, or denial.

Now I know why you did that, I know for sure that you do not have to. You have a choice. One that does not involve violence. Against yourself or others.

Now I know why you did that, I am still angry, just not with you. Well a bit with you. I’m angry because of your seeming unwillingness to see that you can make this better for yourself.

My anger is not your problem. Provided that I do not act on it, it isn’t a problem at all. It is just anger. It shows me what I care the most about.


I have no idea why you did that.

You’re going to need to help me out.