I met the man I want to marry and in all probability, I will never see him again. I will always remember him saying, “I have to go soon.”
I haven’t believed in anything in such a long time except for not believing and now, to hear the echoing plaint of, “I have to go soon” in my head, the thing is, it’s another take-away, another subtraction, even if it is just a memory. It took me (again) takes me (over and over) to that place where … I stopped believing in god(s).
I was on the way home from my mother’s birthday party. Given the vicissitudes and mutations of truth and practiced emotional manipulation which pass for “love”, along with the casual betrayals borne from such dishonesty, not to mention the resultant near legendary level of dysfunction, denial and delusion required to pretend it’s all okay in which most of my family members operate, and considering I had been talked against my better judgment into attending this – her 85th – the first “family” gathering to which I had gone in a few years: I thought it had gone as well as might be expected.
I didn’t cry. I managed – horrified that life had come to this – to locate myself at the end of the table and walk to the buffet and eat with and speak to those who came to that end or approached me on the way to or from buffet without breaking into pieces. I thought this a good thing. An accomplishment. Because – inside – I was vibrating with horripilation, and feeling that all too common to my life of grinding glass, gut-level evisceration, twisting and tearing through my viscera, what little was left of my belief in love and faith and loyalty bleeding out. A screaming ache of “how could you have done what you did?”
But, I had managed to maintain – mostly – my dignity. When people who knew what I had been through chose to disregard that, determined that loving and supporting me meant – for them – that my dignity and their loyalty were negotiable, that I was not entitled to have my soul and the reality of my experience honored; well, I tried NOT to talk about it. I didn’t – as I hadn’t in the initiating experience – start canvassing for votes, or spinning the story.
It is what it is. You know me or you don’t. If you need me to explain myself, if you need me to campaign for you, then, well, you see, there we are.
But, having said that and learned that and experienced JUST HOW MANY people want to be spun; just how many people who have claimed to love you and know you will gladly throw you under a bus and then, on top of it, when you refuse to plead a case – a case you should NEVER have had to mention in the first place – they will then feel not only justified, but entitled to trash you further (thus relieving themselves of guilt and responsibility) – I had become increasingly more reclusive and distrustful.
I was not interested in proving anything. Nor, frankly, in trusting people. Or God. Still a capital “G” then. I had believed in a greater power since early youth. Sure, its shape had changed. And by then, my mother’s birthday – by which time I had lived through quite a few betrayals and casual cruelties from those who had once claimed themselves my dearest and nearest – my belief in even that sort of vague, omniscient but mostly disinterested bottom line of Love and Light had faded into – well. Faded.
And so, there I was, in the car, with my mother, on the way home. My phone buzzed. Long story short, someone from half away across the country had been contacted by someone who had been at the party who determined that I had been purposefully cruel and not spoken to them. I was – in no uncertain terms – told about myself.
The. Last. Un-bloodied. Un-scarred. Piece. Left. Of. Me. Broke.
And I knew there was no God. No god. No foundation of Love or Light. That love and light and god were not things that should be capitalized. I had been demonized. I was – in yet more people’s stories – “wrong” and “bad” and should explain myself and should do this and do that and –
No. No, I shouldn’t. I should have lived a life in which I wasn’t constantly asked to calibrate my needs to adjust for everyone else’s. I should have surrounded myself with people who didn’t think they were doing me a favor by letting them use me as a character in their story, and then get pissed off when I had my own plot that needed to be told.
These are not “bad” people. And, whatever the reason, the plots they need to tell and live require that I be cast as a villain; that my reality be fungible in accordance with their needs and twists and spins. Okay. It is what it is. But whatever it is, was, whoever was there and whoever they were and I was, it bled me dry for a very long time, and when I tried to stop the bleeding, those who might have carried me on a stretcher, salved or bandaged, instead – many of them – thought instead it would be better to dig at the wounds, or blame me for having been stabbed and dug at and picked at.
Okay. But if there was a “G”od or a “L”ight or a “L”ove – those people – they would NOT have done what they did (and didn’t) – and I would not have been in that car on that way home from that birthday party feeling like I’d survived something, made a step, had a small victory on the way back to normalcy only to be attacked.
And honestly, recently, I’ve begun to miss my old concept of god. I prayed, every night, before I went to sleep – for decades. I talked to god, a lot. And you know, one needs a god with whom to talk about those things that are too private for – oh, forget it – back to my mother’s birthday and the texting I received –
Did I cry? Yes. Was I angry? For a moment. But, finally, what happened is, I went numb. It was a level of hurt I’d never imagined and it came from the very last people I’d ever have expected could have caused it, and, with that, finally, I realized that there was no safety, there was no one who could be trusted not to break what little heart one could keep safe. And so I closed it. No longer open for business.
Which, well, I should have been better about meaning. I should have sealed things, hermetically. Because, somehow I was snuck into, somehow I believed someone – however briefly and foolishly – and those few, too – oh forget it. I, too, have to go soon – if only I had gone soon enough to avoid all of this.