“If I had an ‘off’ switch, there are days when I’d happily press it…”
Who’d have thought the world could change so much in such a short space of time? This time last month I was still basking in the memory of our few short days together, wondering what the next step would be in bringing us closer. I know part of me was nervous of what was happening with you, but nothing prepared me for how I’ve been feeling the last few weeks. These days have been some of the hardest I have ever lived through.
I can’t understand the depth of pain – not logically any way. It has been crucifying me. Don’t people break up all the time? Haven’t I had break-ups before this too? And it’s not as if you’re dead – there’s still hope you might change your mind. So why does it feel as if part of my soul has been ripped out? And why, after how connected we’ve been, aren’t you feeling this way too? Or maybe you are. Maybe you’ve deliberately chosen to pull back, thinking I’d be better off without you – thinking I might just go back to the way I was when you found me. Are you that noble-minded? If you are, then I have to tell you that it’s too late. Whatever train of events you started when you first contacted me is too well underway to be stopped now. I’ve changed too much through all of this to simply go back to who and what I was. I’m not the same person I was a year ago, not that I’m sure exactly who I am right now. All I know is that I’m caught in some strange agonizing limbo where every move I make only serves to aggravate the pain. If I had an ‘off’ switch, there are days when I would happily press it if it weren’t for my daughter. I’m just so tired from lack of sleep, emotional pain and shattered hope to summon up the enthusiasm to live.
Last week I totally broke down in front of a friend who asked me how I was doing. I poured the whole thing out to him, wincing as I told him that you had found someone else. I felt like such a fool. Hearing the words coming out of my mouth, I just sounded like a romantic dreamer who’d been taken for a ride. Is that possible? Could it be true that I was just a light distraction for you, something to take your mind off your troubles at home? Did you not really mean any of what you said to me? My heart tells me that can’t be true, but my head is still looking for an explanation for why things changed so quickly. And my thoughtful friend managed to soothe my soul somewhat with his tactful comment. ‘It sounds like he had a chance at heaven,’ he said comfortingly, ‘but settled for less’.
Mark, I know part of you has always believed that you didn’t deserve much, especially after leaving your family. The harsh choices you’ve made for yourself these last few months are like self-punishment, as if the more pain you inflict on yourself the more you can exorcise the pain you think you’ve caused others. No amount of reassurance from me can tell you otherwise now. How could I help you see that you’re no worse or better than anyone else? That we all mess up from time to time, but that we’re still entitled to our own slice of heaven? It’s something you’ll have to find out for yourself. And what do I do with my dreams, now that you’ve taken yourself out of them?
My mind is spinning constantly, twisting this way and that as it tries desperately to find a way out of the pain for me. Part of me feels sorry for it. It has had to cope with so many challenges to its supremacy over this last year and now it’s like watching a speared octopus flailing madly in the water, its limbs grasping wildly at anything that might save it from impending death. Is this what they call a mental breakdown? Or am I just teetering on the verge, not having yet gone over?
I’m managing to just about keep it together enough to get through the day. I’m not crying every hour as I was the first few days. I only cry a couple of times a day now and I’m managing to get behind a closed door before it happens. Damn music is often the culprit. Hearing a song that meant something to us being played in a shop or from a passing car window yanks the newly-forming scab off the wound, bring the pain right the surface all over again. I don’t know what’s worse – managing to forget for a brief while only to be served an excrutiating reminder of the pain, or remaining constantly aware of it.
It seems important for the tears to be allowed to flow, though, as much as I can let them. At least it shows I’m still alive. How could I hurt so much if I wasn’t? And if I’m alive, well, anything’s possible, right? Perhaps this is just the final hurdle before it all works itself out. Maybe it’s the ultimate test of faith for the heroine, seeing if she has the strength and belief in love that will get her through this and bring her what her heart longs for.
Or maybe these are the death-throes of my octopus mind, trying valiantly to save my ego before they both go down together… If I just let them drown, could that be the ‘off’ switch I’ve been longing for?
(The Blog Novel of the Letters unfolds here weekly during the autumn and winter. If you’d like to be alerted as they are published, please just ‘follow’ my blog)