There is some relationship between the hunger for truth and the search for the right words. This struggle may be ultimately indefinable and even undecidable, but one damn well knows it when one sees it.
– Christopher Hitchens
I am sitting in silence after reading these words. Looking back over my own is frightening to an alarming degree, particularly in my private letters to Argo. I proved to myself beyond a shadow of a doubt that I didn’t deserve her. The blessings of her apologies and forgiveness don’t recede into the background, and I know for sure that we’re good. At the same time, though, memories haunt my dreams and I don’t know what to say to calm the storm and let the sea be still.
I don’t know what to say to Dana, either, which is good because I doubt she’d hear me out, anyway. I think I have received all the information, bad and good, that I’m going to get from her. It is okay- she doesn’t owe me a thing. I don’t hold out hope or expectation of resurrection, but I do talk to her in my dreams at least once a night. How could I not? She has been my best friend since 2004.
On, ironically enough, Easter.
There are no words to express how wrecked I am at how the relationship ended, and my grief is unparalleled to anything I could have imagined. At first, the excitement of moving and getting settled here had me busy enough to forget what it was like to love her day in and day out. Excitement melted into regret after a few months, and I realized that I had to learn to live my life without regretting so much. Forgiving the past, yes, but acting in a way that there wouldn’t be regrets later on in the first place. I couldn’t act out and say “I’m sorry” over and over again. People shouldn’t be expected to forgive that much……. but they have over and over again as I try to fix what’s wrong with me and fail because I didn’t wait long enough for the right words to come.
I said words whether they were the right ones or not.
The remembrance I get of it is pain so great that my computer vibrates with it when I really look at my own soul and try to extract the sludge I created. I am so hard on myself because honestly. I expected better of me and I’m disappointed in me. That is slowly changing as I move further away from all of the fights and tears, living in such a way that I intentionally give myself more peace every day that I remain true to both myself and the world around me. Love was a dopamine addiction that I had to extract far enough away that I could see it. My drug of choice since I was a teenager and no less potent than crack.
It may not be that way for everyone, but right now, it is for me. It is becoming the past, but the future is not here. I struggle with limbo, of wanting to be free and knowing in myself that I am not. I intentionally stay away from most people because I do not want an explosive connection right now. I want to reconcile the past and how the past became the present and what will be when I am well and healthy.
It is the most important work I’ll ever do, because I realize that it has taken me years to get even this far. I didn’t realize how insidious emotional abuse could be, how it could wire my reactions both hot and cold… and reaching for what I knew were the wrong words and saying them, anyway. I’ve said the wrong words long enough, and the past few years have been cries into the wilderness of myself. The parts that are untamed and rough. The parts where the vicious animals live.
With Argo, my reactions were cut down to wet cat claws extended. I can’t believe that I ever thought there was a wall between us, because there wasn’t. I created it out of nothing. She loved me ferociously- like a mountain lion carrying a cub through the woods and I could not accept it for what it was- a gift of enormous proportion. I reached back into my abused nature and mutilated it until it was unrecognizable to both of us. I loved her, too, but it didn’t show. I only told her I loved her and didn’t act like it.
I don’t mean infatuation. I mean the kind where if she was sick I’d be the first to volunteer to go to the drug store in the middle of the night. I mean the kind of love where a broken heart by a boyfriend or a pulled muscle while working out or a long day at work where other people are stupid automatically means showing up with chocolate and bacon. I can’t even pretend to know what’s going on in her life, but I would if I’d showed up then.
But I didn’t. I sat and seethed in my own unhappiness, taking it all out on her. I should have listened more and talked less, cooked instead of eating, served instead of leading the charge downward. As the old saying goes, “I didn’t say it was your fault. I said I’m going to blame you.” That’s it in a nutshell. The crazier my life felt, the less I felt in control of my surroundings, the more Argo’s words came across as designed to hurt even when they weren’t. Sometimes, they were just succinct truth that I didn’t want to hear. Blunt assessments for which I was unprepared. The Hippocratic oath I thought I knew went out the window, and I fell on my face. The road rash is still healing on my cheeks, burned by bitter tears at what would have been had I not been so insular and egocentric.
If losing Argo can be compared to falling on concrete, then losing Dana is open-heart surgery. There are no right words for the ways in which her absence permeates my life. It is on the front burner, all day, every day. I wish I could write about her as easily as I do everyone else, but I can’t. Those feelings are so far down that I’m only now beginning to access them. They’re a river that touches everything, as much a part of me as taking in air. I rage that Dana let a passing infatuation trump 12 years of being my best friend, even as Argo and I both tried to calm her fears. I knew that my infatuation was a byproduct of abuse, and not reality. Love was reality… for both of them but in completely separate locked boxes, even unto me.
The difference is that I could show Dana I loved her each and every day. Saying it might have lost meaning, but going with her to the doctor or picking up the groceries didn’t. With Argo, there was no way to bridge the gap between saying and doing. With Dana, it was everywhere. She was, in the very best sense of the right words, my world. I ran from that break-up like a house on fire because I couldn’t look at her without seeing her as I always had. Living in the same house re-enforced the idea that we’d work it out eventually. I couldn’t keep emotionally distant, and knew that physical boundary was what it would take to break that connection. Dana is not a writer. There wouldn’t be a way for us to connect over the Internet the way Argo and I had, because Dana’s wordplay is in person. You have to show up to see it. Her right words aren’t on the page, but in nuances too great for black and white.
I just stopped showing up with both of them, and time is too young to tell whether it can be fixed with either. I only have control over my own decisions, and that is to try as hard as I can to love them for who they are, instead of who I think they are.
And maybe those are words right enough for everyone.