releasing a ghost of a thing

I fell in love when I was sixteen and we were together until I was twenty-one. It was a very intense relationship. Neither of us having much in the way of role models, we formed our own school for the blind, stumbling hand in hand through the beautiful but harsh lessons of love and sex and all the courses essential to becoming an adult with a lot of baggage. He loved me ferociously and I loved him back like a hurricane. He hurt me, so I hurt him back. We reached the highest physical highs, we had so much damned fun together, all while we wrecked each other emotionally. We met two times, maybe three, in the year after I’d left him for good and was headed for marital misery with one of the biggest mistakes of my life. Met, I think, just to wail and fuck and make sure we’d not inadvertently left any pieces of the other person’s shattered soul large enough to glue back together.

I carried a knot of unresolved anger, unspoken words, unexpressed passionate love and desire. For more than a decade I carried this knot in my stomach. As I flung myself into each new relationship, the knot would remind me that no matter how good I was, no matter how much I loved, no matter how attractive or sexual or smart I was, it would not be enough, and I would explode, and it would all end in drama and tragedy. I was very good at creating my vision–who says I’m not an artist? At some point I did come to some understanding that we were young, naive, hormonal, and stupid, and I got over the anger and hurt and went on with life. I was fortunate enough to have a relationship that was so amazing and healing that I managed to rewrite the script I’d stuck to, in my hurt, hard-headed way, for 15 years. I came to see myself as a woman who could be loved for all my parts and pieces. And before I realized it, twenty-five years had passed since I’d spoken one word to my first love.

This week he found me on facebook and sent me a message, telling me that he was an evangelical minister (I had heard that from a mutual friend about a year ago, so my initial shock has worn off, but good god!), that he was happily married and has an eleven year old daughter. And that he’d really loved me, was so sorry he’d ever hurt me, was so sad for so long after I left, had never quite gotten over me, and had spent the same 12 or 14 years that I had carrying our mutual bags, marrying and divorcing, and trying to figure things out. I read this and a wave of nausea swept over me. I had to go lie down. A ghost of a thing, the nasty knot, had just unfurled in my stomach, making me feel like I was going retch before it climbed out my throat and waved goodbye. It took me an hour or so of lying there, stunned, to figure out what had passed through me. I had been loved. I had been remembered. I had been important and life altering to him just as he had been to me. I hadn’t been alone in being a shattered person. I don’t know why that made it all better, but it did, and that’s all I had wanted, in the end. I hadn’t wanted a life with him, I didn’t want to go back, I just wanted to be able to give those five years of my life meaning and put them in the plus column. Does that make sense? He found Jesus, and I found Wes, and we both got fixed and ended up where we should be, I suppose. But it was important for me–and I didn’t realize how important until it happened–to have this closure with him.

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