15th February 2008
Where to begin? I could start where I lay, curled up on the kitchen floor that night, a psychic knife in my gut, my world blown apart.
Or I could start here, from a place of having proposed marriage to the father of my youngest daughters. Two bookends to a story you know the beginning of, but not the sequel. If you are out there somewhere, reading this, you are without doubt curious about what came next, after you left me – perhaps also nervous about what you may read. And rightly so, in some ways. You haunted me for years, and scarred me deeply, though no-one is at fault. If you play with fire you have to be prepared to get burnt. And yes, I’ve always liked an adventure. And yes, I’m now older, wiser, and proudly bearing the scars that are proof that I jumped with both feet into the center of a fire that was blazing dangerously.
But these letters are not only a way of saying what I would say to you if you were here now, after all these years. They are also a way of framing what happened to me after our brief, renewed relationship. They are a way of trying to make sense of some of the extraordinary experiences for which I had no frame of reference at the time. Perhaps, most of all, they are my way of saying what needs to be said. In the absence of a personal audience the world is taking your place. Isn’t that what I really always wanted anyway? To find a way of opening myself up to the world rather than restricting my love to a select few? My lovers have always made themselves scarce at times, unavailable to my love – as all lovers do from time to time – but you were the extreme, disappearing on me completely . And through them all, I have been gradually learning to spread my love broadly enough that it can encompass the world. A scary feeling at times, but one which is ultimately much more rewarding than any limited form of love can ever be.
None of this last paragraph will really make sense to you though, without a context, so I’ll start
where we lost touch – with that night when it felt like you’d plunged a knife through me. Never have I felt such tangible pain as I did that night, and over the weeks that followed. I’d managed to hold it together through the gradual estrangement from my husband, through the separation, and even through moving out of my young daughter’s home. But that night I could hold it no longer – it was the final straw and something broke deep down inside me.
There’s something almost pathetically funny about the sight of an independent career woman in her late thirties curled up on the floor, howling like a banshee. I was never really one to cry – and certainly not like that. But, like everything else about our connection, that night also re-introduced me to aspects of myself I had long forgotten, if I had ever known them in the first place. It was as if I was sixteen all over again, and re-living the loss I’d experienced then but had never had the opportunity to really feel. I had been too young, too alone and too unsupported the first time we parted. But there was no doubt that I was feeling the reality of my emotions that night on the floor, and it wasn’t pretty or pleasant.
In the days that followed, I fell apart completely. I’ve never been so close to total breakdown. Maybe it was a breakdown, although I managed to get out of bed and continue with some basic normality. That was it, then. The end of the road for us. And the beginning of my trying to figure out what it meant for me. It seemed, after all, that perhaps soul mates, fate and karma had some relevance in my modern life, much as I had resisted those very concepts.
People who had known what was happening between us couldn’t believe I wasn’t angry and I guess, under it all, I was angry – not angry at you so much as angry at not having had the opportunity to deal with the situation as I might have liked to. But the overwhelming feeling was deep grief and a constant wondering ‘why’. Even if you were here, and I could ask you, I don’t know that it’s a question you could or would answer. How many of us are honest enough to look at our lives and admit that we may have chosen a harder path than we needed to?
But with the 20/20 vision which is hindsight, I can see now that through all the chaos and upheaval which was around us then, another force was at work. In the midst of all the deep questioning, hurt and desperation that followed your departure, something seemed to call to me. and I had no choice but to follow the only part of me that seemed to be still intact – intuition. Although I didn’t know it then, a new journey had already begun which would lead me to where I am now. A journey that has led to me to places of deep fulfillment and connection that I would never trade for the shallower pleasures of the past, no matter how hard the road has been at times.
So take heart, my absent friend, and read on. All was fine, eventually.
(The journey of the Letters continues weekly over the autumn and winter. If you would like to be alerted when the next installment publishes, please just choose to ‘follow’ the blog).