“The wind kicks in stronger, branches clatter. Or maybe skeletons. Bones of abandonment. Ghosts that will never be.” –Ellen Hopkins
The pain took me by surprise, probably because I’d numbed myself to it for so long. Warm tears rolling down my face woke me this morning and I thought, Fuck this.
I woke up sick. The familiar rolling waves of nausea associated with regret and despair and loneliness and defeat. Pepto and ginger ale can’t ease the discomfort; its source lies deep within me and it bubbles, slowly at first, to the surface and finally unleashes a brutal assault on my whole being. The realization that I can’t do this hits me square and hard, knocking the wind from me and sending my head reeling into an unstoppable spin.
The brief taste of life, of contentment, I had, sweet with possibilities, has grown bitter with reality.
As the realization set in slowly over the hours that ushered the dark out and the morning sun in, I started to lose myself in the sadness of it all. Of the sheer enormity of it. Of the utter absurdity. Mechanically I arose and went about the business of the day. I poured tea and showered and read the paper, but I remember practically none of it. I was going through the motions.
Eventually I ended up at my storage unit to pour through the boxes that have occupied the space for the last four years. None of them contain my belongings. They all contain what remains of the life of my best friend Paul. After he died I painstakingly cleaned out his apartment and I found it difficult to get rid of a lot of what was there. How could I, really? This was the only tangible connection I had to the life of the person who loved me completely and unconditionally and whom I loved equally as earnestly. He was a compulsive saver, and so I too have become one, only it’s his stuff I save. I explored the boxes today. His old baseball glove, his appointment books, pens from his desk. I held them in my hand as though I expected his energy to flow through me from each object. Notebooks full of his musings. I read each page, studying the handwriting, remembering.
I sat in the corner of the cold, dimly lit room and imagined his disappointment in me. His sadness. Never, though, his judgment. I felt safe there, knees drawn tightly up to my chin, rocking slowly to cadence of my own breathing. I could hear my heart beating. I wished in that moment that someone would come along and shut the door, leaving me in there with all that was left of Paul and the brokenness that was left of me.
Death has such power to change life so completely. Paul slipped away four years ago and this gaping hole was left in my universe. I was unprepared for Fortune’s turn, and I’ve not yet been able to reconcile myself to it.
“There are wounds that never show on the body that are deeper and more hurtful than anything that bleeds.” –Laurell K. Hamilton
Too long have I watched the benchmarks of my own life dissolve into nothingness, enveloped by the quiet desperation and deafening battle that I’ve sometimes fought valiantly and other times not at all. Silently, apart from myself, I’ve watched woefully as each part of me, each part that matters anyway, has been replaced by a soulless shadow, that has thrust me into this two-dimensional universe in which I currently exist. A dull place, void of color or sound or humanity.
As I’ve struggled with this decision I’ve had to make over the last few days I’ve had my feelings quickly dismissed as excuses and copouts. I don’t know. Maybe they are and I’m just too broken to see it. But they feel pretty fucking real and suffocating to me and to have them patently denied and shook off feels like a violation of my psyche. And so I’ve decided not to decide. I’ve raised my defenses once again against that which may cause me any sense of discomfort or devastation.
Sometimes crying or laughing are the only options left. Today I chose complete and utter apathy. It’s far stronger armor against the pain, I’ve found.
I can only ever open my heart to the Words. I can’t disappoint Words; they can’t disappoint me. Words can’t abandon or judge or condemn. They can’t command or give ultimatums. They are true and forever and unconditional. My face belongs in a book not out in the world to be kicked time and again. So I retreat back into the Words, closing myself off once again to anything that can ever hurt me. But as I close off to the pain so too do I shut myself off from the love. It is a heartbreaking consequence.
My instinct, always, is just to slip back into the shadows.
So tonight I sit quietly with my memories and my failures, overwhelmed by the deafening cacophony of silence. I’ve fought hard this day not to succumb to my demons. Any peace I’ve ever found, any comfort, has always come at the business end of a syringe. I can feel the merciless grip of that monster tightening even as I close my eyes against it tonight, desperate for sleep and release.