Shredded by the Ghost: A Look Back Before Going Forward

A void where love was, after waking up from the dream.

Love was all-consuming that year and even trickled down into a consistent ache for five long years after that. And then, a void.

He stayed in my mind, the ghost following behind me, the vapor in my brain. Like Sherman Alexie says in The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fist Fight in Heaven:

“There are things you should learn. Your past is a skeleton walking one step behind you, and your future is a skeleton walking one step in front of you. Maybe you don’t wear a watch, but your skeletons do, and they always know what time it is.”

Alexie understands love as well as any writer I have ever read. And love really does relate to horror stories. But while a good horror story usually climaxes and then ends in a grand release of suspense providing satisfactory resolve, my worn love affair left me, at the end of five years, finally out of love–“over him”–but void.

The passion and tragedy of unrequited love had shredded me for all that time. When I finally saw him again, I thought the love had miraculously returned to its earlier reciprocating form. Instead, I found a real man completely detached, just spewing romantic words without meaning any of it.

“How do you talk to the real person whose ghost has haunted you? How do you tell the difference  between the two?” (Ibid)

I finally figured out that, to this old lover of mine, only his art meant something to him, or at least it was the only lover he would ever allow himself to embrace. His embraces for me at this point were lip service only, like his words–he could no longer truly give himself to another human being.

I tell myself it’s a good thing that I came to the realization that I had only been in love with a dream for those five years. The real man in front of me was not that dream, could not be that dream. There was vast disappointment mixed in with some relief at falling out of love due to this discovery. It’s very easy to say that I had been utterly stupid and naïve. But when I remember exactly how much in love I felt at one time–I mean really allow myself to relate to it for a moment–I know that it was as real as it may ever be for me. It was a milestone, a completely absorbing passion.

So now, after almost exactly eight years to the day I met him, there’s just me, alone. A more mature and whole person, less naïve. I’ve learned a lot going through the rock-bottom sensation of hurt. First in losing him, then the constancy of loving him in his absence–the Ghost, the Dream–and then the short attempt at revival of old feelings, ending in disappointment. And after that, processing how to feel as just myself, not an in-love person anymore and how not to be vulnerable for anyone for the last year plus.

It’s not like I think about it every day now. The past is the past, even though it’s a skeleton. But I guess I have to admit, maybe that kind of love and disappointment is never really pushed out of one’s mind and heart until there is a replacement. An older, wiser me upcoming to tackle that? Can I find a replacement love? A love of all time to blow my mind? And do it the right way this time? Maybe this blog is a start.

But here I go, always ahead of myself and maybe that’s why I fall in love hard and easily almost every time. Why I have had the opposite of a commitment issue. But I’ve been so good in the last year–I’ve stayed single. It’s forever since I’ve managed that. On the other hand, loneliness is starting to creep in from a hermit-like existence. That’s part of what brought me to this point–to learn to date, and not only that but to learn to do it casually. No commitment, no ties, no drama, just fun and getting to know people. For me, an experiment, a test for myself to do what does not come naturally and test the hypothesis that I do have the capability to do it and learn from it.

With this frame of reference, the experiment will be structured–approximately one first date a week. Exposure to one member of the male species at one time for a short time. For coffee, conversation, and other such date-like activities. I may even learn something from the activities themselves–like extreme knitting or something. (Ouch–carpal tunnel!)

Small talk has always been such a bore, unless I am concentrating on something else, like the sculptured look of someone’s nose. So if I can at least pull off small talk, while processing either my own random thoughts or anxieties, I feel it will be a success. I think part of this will be in learning even more how to be ok with myself, as I am. That is, myself interacting with others, without having to please them. Being an over-pleaser and a bit of an enabler may be one reason why I leap into committed relationships before I look.

Let’s hope the sob story is over for once and all.