"I mean", she explained, "well, sort of. But more on me. If this doesn't work out, I'm never having another relationship again."
I was shocked to hear her say this, more so by the fact that she's a beautiful, in fact stunning woman with so much to offer the world. When I first met her, she'd reminded me of a tall woodland yet delicately elfine creature, her eyes were the green of sun-faded sea glass, the ends slightly tilted upwards to where it gave her an air of alert curiosity.
She would not have been out of place on a throne of leaves and flowers. Surely, this was not the fate of someone so vibrant, so feeling and so fantastically funny.
She'd told me this in such a quietly calm voice though she might as well have screamed it, the vision I had of her remained grossly incongruent with that of someone I'd ever think of as ready to give up. I'd heard variations of this conclusion before from others, one well-traveled and extremely busy friend appeared to be happily engrossed in her work saying she found relationships much too tiring. She punctuated it with a shrug, seemingly content with the cleanliness of her uninterrupted life. She'd never married and if she did, it seemed the terms would be rather onerous. It's hard to compete with a hefty 401K. Touche she's a Capricorn.
Yet another had completely lost the ability to cry. During sad movies and crushing moments, she'd ramble on lightly, skimming over sorrows I sensed were there, festering hurts only betrayed by the sometime sharp edges of her words or her tendency to loop back contemplations on a current lover to a past one. If ever a new story were to be written, it would have to survive rather stained pages riddled with etchings of the past. Sometimes listening to it reminded me of a bird trying to fly with a single wing. You hear the flapping but you see no flight. You feel the tears but never see them.
And now having traveled some way myself, I feel the same wooden creaking inside me. Like one of those mythical cricket chirps some cultures tell of as a warning, an unassuming yet dreaded death knell sound that says it's coming soon and this time it will come for you. I'd started this blog upon the behest of the Golden Venus, my hesitations disappeared when more friends and readers urged the same thing. It has become a significant part of my deliverance, my own attempt to take flight while healing.
Hence, I am conscious of how I share what I champion for myself, usually that's hope. The stuff that keeps us keeping on.
Yet I have to confess, I struggle with this now. And it is not a theoretical struggle, in the many pieces of my heart, it has become a full on hand to hand combat. Fist, knife, broken glass, ice picks. I have refused to write not only due to the demands of my work life, or the vagaries of everything else outside of it, but due to a stubborn refusal to even say this. It is what I have feared defeat would be like, that the distance between a life I barely survived and one I'm continually trying to create is paper thin. One little cut and it would all be over.
Belief is that relevant. That critical. Mandela had said it, that "one of the most difficult things..is to change yourself".
But how would I change this? What change could I offer the friend who has no tears left? This is a point when crying would be a gift. Proof the rivers of life and love had not run dry inside you. Yet I know how much easier it would be just to never, ever cry. To decide then and there, to feel nothing and rest on risks calculated by logic. To estimate the surest pathways we think are safest, choose the people we have deigned to be most ideal for the lives we aim for. The dream girl. The dream man.
The heart refuses to be left in the dark. Even while we calcify at our edges, and follow the programs we've set forth (you know the ones), it pulses a drum beat into a universe we assume has been rendered dumb by the disappointments of the world. We become really good at professing doubt, and bitterness? Well, it just sort of arrives, like a belligerent unwanted guest who querulously challenges any request to leave. We find ways to accommodate it. Maybe we develop a tome of rules, or find a position to rigidly dig ourselves in.
Some overwork (guilty). Some perpetuate dramas we don't even really care for except for their distraction/destruction value. Yet even some of us punish the people who really do love and care for us, who accept us from halo to clay feet, take the tests we put them through and smile understandingly as we scratch them. They believe we are lovable, even when we do not. They bleed willingly and we think them stupid for it.
But we all create strategies to be sure we will never be pressed to such terrible tears again. It could be anything, it could even look terribly normal. Because in this world, we're all overwhelmingly taught to guard our hearts with the same kind of well-intended practicality we use when reminding someone to turn off the lights before they leave the house.
This is all lost on me, and I am paradoxically, the poster child of a previously hideous love life and the most fervent advocate for hope. When it comes to others at least. But now, I feel the coldness of the crossroads nearing. I approach with trepidation the juncture those who've come before speak of and the very one I've fought valiantly against. I am on the verge of sighing into this dead place and I could fall soft as a feather into it. Light with emptiness.
Check. Another one bites the dust. This is the expert's guide to crying without tears.