I seem so happy sometimes, so willing to be the cheerleader, the emotional crutch, the best friend, actually whatever role the people around me choose to cast me in, to make their lives easier. Actually I don’t mind, most times helping gives me a purpose and makes my own problems seem small and petty. But you know me better than that. You’ve seen me down and out for count. Listened to calls filled with sobs and sadness, woken up to messages about suicidal thoughts and giving up. And I’ve seen you in pretty bad times too, waited for the buzz of my phone that told me you were still alive while you withdrew to face your demons and broker some time free of them. You’ve heard me sigh in relief when you came out better and appreciated my quiet companionship when they refused to let you be free of yourself. And through it all, we’ve gained this appreciation for each other’s uniqueness and for the flaws that made us so. Between us, a word carries more meaning than an essay and a smile tells of so much more…
But there are things I haven’t told you. Because I hate how it makes you worry, and because I know sometimes there is cause for worry. I have so many nightmares, so many. I’ve have scars all over me, my skin is mottled with souvenirs of pain. I have mastered it, used it to lift myself out of pettiness and narcissism that plagues youth. But I have come to realise that there are worse things than pain, there is fear. it is my fears that belittle the pain and cripple me, that make me lie in bed most mornings afraid to face the world. I have dreams that recur most nights, little philosophical questions that hide in my subconscious all day and pounce when I sleep, commandeering my dreams and turning them into an iron maiden. I don’t sleep much because I am afraid to dream, I am afraid of the questions that await me, answers to which I am terrified might be worse than the questions.
I have this dream where I am in a coffin and you are nowhere near. Sometimes it’s an immobilizing shroud tightly wrapped, other times it’s a pyre with the rugged logs of wood stacked over, holding me in place but always I’m trapped beside this body unable to act yet fully aware of everything that happens. I see you come to pay last respects but the crowd closes in on you and you are turned away. They ask,
“Where were you when the pills were swallowed?”
“Where you when the wrists were slit?”
“Did you even notice the noose hanging by the door?”
“Were you fooled by his smiles as we were?”
You are turned away because there is no blood or spawn or ring. Night after night you are turned away, sent off by unanswered taunts and accusations. You come back night after night, grieving and they don’t even care, they turn you away and humiliate you. And even though I should feel nothing anymore, I die again and again.
The questions echo through my barrenness in my head. If the person you love dies, at the climax of your relationship, at the point when the joy is so surreal the world is a distant place and all you need to do is cover yourselves with a blanket to escape into each other; how do you refer to them in future conversations? Is it a fallacy to call them the ‘ex’? Because ‘ex’ isn’t a truth; you didn’t grow tired of each other or drift apart, one party didn’t fall in love with another person, there was no gradual halt and the consequential possibility of a repeat, just a final abrupt end. How will it feel when no one acknowledges your grief because we hadn’t taken a step that could be considered permanent, and people unconsciously use the word ‘past’ when they refer to me and what we shared as though it was a trivial fling that came and went, when friend after friend tries to get you out of your ‘funk’ by setting you up with other people because by their estimations, you should have come to terms and moved on. Will you be allowed to be angry with the world? Will you be allowed to feel pity for yourself? Will you forgive yourself if you move on? Will it ever be the same again? Will you ever forget?
There are other dreams, asking questions I cannot bear to contemplate. But this one I want to share. Because I am the sum of my hopes and my fears, and to know the true name of a thing is to have power over it and understand its nature. Love regardless.
Pour mon Soleil de pluie d’ete.