15 July 2014

Outside In

When you have loved someone for a long time, it's crushing to find you're wrong. This love of yours -- this part of your very idea of yourself -- would not go the distance.  When the door has closed, and her face is gone, you turn inward alone. And learn the weight of lost hope.

Where do you go from there?

For me it was mostly to books.  I took my refuge there.

I have my books
And my poetry to protect me
I am shielded in my armor
Hiding in my room
Safe within my womb
I touch no one and no one touches me
I am a rock
I am an island

And a rock feels no pain
And an island never cries

At first I told myself that this was my choice.  I was doing the wise thing.  I was allowing myself to suffer the loss for once.  At first I think I really believed this, just as the speaker in the lines above believes himself when everyone who hears him knows better.  There's no protection against this kind of pain.  No armor.  No choice. It just overwhelms you.  For years I sat there on my couch and did nothing but read because I couldn't do anything else.

For years.

In time the pain subsided into a silence, and the silence into a solitude that I had no wish to break. Or rather that I wished not to break.  And I knew that this meant loneliness as well as solitude.  When, several years in, a very kind woman I know asked me if I were interested in being set up on a date, I declined, charmed and a little sorry, but quite sincere.  There wasn't enough of me for a date.

For years.

And I have asked myself how much of this position was a pose.  Self-pity can wear the face of sorrow. And I have asked myself if sometimes self-pity is just the best we can do when the idea of putting on the actual sorrow is unendurable.  For the silence and solitude that follow the pain are not a void, however empty they may seem at first. There's more to come, even now.

Then one day when you least expect it you meet someone you find bright and funny, charming and attractive.  Only by now you've become so used to the solitude and the silence that it throws you off to hear your own heart suddenly beat.  You never knew it still could.

This is not the beginning of some new tale here.  This post doesn't end like Jane Eyre.  That meeting was by chance, not repeated.  But the hope of Spring it gave provoked more than surprise.  It stirred the memory of the face I may never see again.  The past, the only thing that is actually real, is all jumbled up with the present and future.

Nothing's ever over.


I Am A Rock, © 1965 Words and Music by Paul Simon

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