There is no hiding when pupils meet, touching across a distance. When we stare into the eyes of another, we are naked, and the other one knows it. In the moment where the portal into our consciousness is revealed, our deepest insecurities and doubts scurry to the surface and it feels like the other person knows. Even to only avoid pain in these moments of contact is so deeply romantic because the empathy gained amidst eye contact is immense, and of course, foundational to love is empathy.
The most common illness I have found amongst humans is the disdain/fear/worry of locking eyes with another. With each affliction, there are innumerable personal causes, but I have found that all of the causes fall under the umbrella of “I have been hurt.” Pain is only common to those who have been vulnerable. It is impossible to be hurt by fire if there is a barrier between one and the fire. If that barrier disappears, then one is now vulnerable to the heat generated by the fire. Heat can sear human beings.
When someone chronically seeks to avoid eye contact, they are attempting to circumvent pain. It is rational, because if you have ever experienced pain, you know it is quite painful. Sometimes, pain can be debilitating. Sometimes, pain can kill you.
Still, I know nothing but immense pity for those who cannot look another into the eyes, to understand the unkempt nature of the soul, to learn the history inherent to the crinkle of the skin around the eyelids, to grasp the commonality of consciousness, and to feel the warmth of another’s love.
To avoid looking me in the eyes is to say “I wish not to know you” and/or “I wish for you not to know me.” How lonely it must be.