Somehow calling you by your name takes the sting out of the contempt I feel towards you. It’s a deep contempt, one that took me a while to recognise and give voice to. You were my world once. I truly believed that nothing shone brighter than you; and that one day you would pull me out of the dark well that I was in and take me with you somewhere into the bright light you always seemed to have behind you. But as the years passed, I grew tired of looking up, and the light hurt my eyes, with you always just out of reach, and somewhere I couldn’t be.
You’d tell me to be patient. You’d tell me stories of all the wonderful things that we might do together someday, all the wonderful things I might do and achieve without you, and I listened avidly, believing your every word, hoping that someday soon I would experience these delights, these vapid promises that never really quite came to fruition, being met instead with the cold, gloomy light of day, and the reality of time and its tidal flows.
I’d lie awake ‘till late waiting for our lives to coincide, even if but for a moment when I would see you smile and hear you whisper, “Hello”. Then everything would be ok, until you left again. Like needles forced into my stomach, your leaving made me wince with the pain of not knowing when you’d return, if you’d return. Unsure if you’d always be there for me like you’d promised you would be. A day was too long, though soon the days would become weeks, then months, now years; and my, how time flies when you no longer watch the minutes burn.
I held fast to that promise, not realising how many times you would break it – not because you had lied, but because you hadn’t understood the contract of fidelity and love you had made with me. You had not understood what breaking that promise would do to me. Your promise was for you alone, so that you did not feel as though you were forsaking me when the time came to leave again, when the real you would appear then disappear, too quickly for naive eyes to perceive. You left often. You returned seldom. Even when you were there, you were not present. It was like a game of hide and seek that always left me so turned around, like those dreams I’ve often had of being in a huge building with a maze of corridors, knowing that I should know the way, but having everything change with every turn, and never quite finding what I was looking for. I always felt like I needed to make an appointment in order to have your undivided attention.
You taught me that promises were never made to be kept, so that when others promised me the world, I closed my ears and my mind, even though my heart would always get caught up in the net of fancy words and emotional superlatives, basking in the bright light of approval and honeymoon magic. My poor heart would always believe every single word, until one day it would break completely under the strain of lies that had been bearing down upon it since you first whispered, “Hello’, ever under the spell of your misguided intent, and damned for an eternity to repeat the performance with everyone I would meet.
You taught me how to leave too. You taught me how to inflict pain through misdirected love, and to trust others who would do the same to me. For that, you can never be forgiven – I just don’t have the words to even begin, for I’d have to begin with forgiving myself, though I don’t think I can. Not now. Not ever. Not really. Neither of us knows what we have done. Neither of us knows how many generations before and after us this has persisted nor will persist. Neither of us will ever know if we could have made a difference.
The light behind you was always stronger than you, and that is what I saw and fell in love with. That is what I yearned to see and aspire to. Not to be you, nor to believe that you and the light were one and the same. Nor indeed, that I was at all like the light of the hope you once gave me. I too was misguided, I see that now. We were brought together for no other reason than to understand the importance of integrity, of understanding that connections between us and others are all that matter in life. That the purpose of life is to stick to the promises you make as best you can, and to be true to your word, even if you forget what that word is, but as long as you remember that integrity is not just a sound, it’s an experience, a feeling, a sense of trust that cannot be shaken no matter what. Your integrity is what I believed in all those years ago. But you forgot what it meant, and you broke my heart. You broke my heart so that it could no longer be fixed. And the Universe gave me more broken hearts, yours included, in bucket-loads, because that’s what the Universe does: it delivers what you expect on discs of silver and gold.
We both shall pass without saying goodbye, because true to fashion you will not be where I am; and we will pass quietly and invisibly beyond the light to somewhere different, beyond reach and beyond all remaining patience. No more long awaited hellos, and no more nightmares.
Until then, with Love,