Yesterday I started boxing up memories. This means preserving them, but putting them away so they don’t hurt my heart anymore when I stumbled across them. I have seventeen years of memories; they twine through multiple homes, various milestones, holidays on different continents and of course the lives of my children. It is difficult to box memories, impossible to pretend there aren’t happy, even joyful times preserved in those pictures, impossible to pretend they did not happen. Yes, they happened and I was there, that smile was real and those times were not false, they simply didn’t lead to the ending any of us wanted.
It is difficult to forgive yourself; your failures sit on your heart. Eventually though, they open the door to what isn’t yours, what you don’t own and how you didn’t fail. As I began to sort through hundreds of pictures, some in albums and some loose I realized there were two of us, not just me. Two of us who journeyed, two of us standing before the minister making promises, two of us living under the roof of our various homes and yes two of us fighting the battles. The problem was there was only one of us leaving, twice. Only one of us ultimately unwilling to fight for our marriage. Only one of us so angry they were willing to throw everything away. I realized looking at those pictures, both of us were wrong, both of us did wrong, both of us failed; not just one and finally I forgave myself and refused the entire blame.
Like many of you, I choose love. Always, I choose love when I can, when it is offered and I am not petrified, I admit I am often petrified. I also often choose to love the unattainable, the unlovable, the out-of-reach, those who do not wish love or stand beyond love. I think I know why I do this; it is honestly safer isn’t it? Because as I said, I am petrified, of love of being loved, or maybe of not being enough to keep love and being rejected, shoved aside and turned away from.
I have a friend, someone who has known me for more than thirty years she says on the face of it I am a romantic; I like the idea of being loved and in love. The other thing she says is I choose men who are ultimately not worthy of my love, men who will walk away or who I will walk away from. She says I will always love men who will remain out of reach, either emotionally or literally unattainable and in this way, I keep myself shielded from any real hurt or invasion of my personal space.
Is she right? I truly do not know the answer to this, on the surface it seems she might be. If this is the truth, it would seem I have another thing to forgive myself for.
My divorce, yes I finally said it, draws to a conclusion, the final decree being signed by both of us and presented to a judge sometime in the next week. I look down a future of alone and realize I am building around myself a protective tower, like Rapunzel or Sleeping Beauty, no way in or out. No one is doing this but me, for now I think this is the safe choice. I might wish otherwise, maybe a knight willing to brave the wicked witch that is my alter ego or the protective thorn forest that is my history; yet, I have to wonder does that man actually exist? Is this simply my romanticism attempting to convince me to at least leave a light on, a way in.
For now, I think I will keep the lights off, romanticism held closely at bay no matter my instinct to reach out, choose love. Memories to box both tangible and in my head, fortunately I have the practice to be successful at both. The ability to express love, desire, fear and all the other emotions of our humanity will find outlets in other forms; thankfully, I have given myself permission to open new doors both those which I have always followed but kept secret and some new.
So for now, I wait to see what is next. Tomorrow is a new day; I find I am not as afraid as I was last month. Sure, there are still things that make me catch my breath and want to scream, not as often though. Certainly, there are things that make me want to fling myself to the floor and have a tantrum like a two-year-old, not as frequently as last month though.
For now, I will simply try to find small pleasures; perhaps they will grow and untangle and maybe someday I will put the light on.