Thursday, October 13, 2011

Grateful for the Past

I'm grateful for people who've been part of my life at one point or another. Every relationship, every friendship, teaches us something important. It's how we learn what we want - and what we don't want - in our lives.

So, for those of you who have been part of my life at any point, Thank You.

Maybe you and I together have loved, lusted, or languished in the too-long goodbye. Maybe we've struggled to find a peaceful existence. Maybe we've slipped into an old pattern that wasn't good for either of us, maybe we parted agreeing to disagree. Maybe we were bad for each other in the best possible ways. Whatever the circumstances, I thank you. I remember you. I honor you.

For some people, these things come easily. They marry young and remain happy for a lifetime. Their best friend at 70 was the same one they had at 7. They carry childhood friendships into their adult hearts with ease, deepening instead of disappearing. I applaud that path, but it has not been mine.

For me things have been a bit more slippery in these matters of the heart. The past is ever-present, threatening to overtake the most promising potential. Sometimes in beating it down I lose sight of what is needed from me. For those of you who accepted that, and looked at the demons with me, I thank you. It is not easy for those of us who are accustomed to them to face them, so I can only imagine how awful it is when you are unexpectedly meeting them for the first time.

It is my fault you were blindsided. My apologies. I should have prepared you. I know I should have. I take full responsibility for not doing so. But, if you can, try to understand that I start every day believing there will never again be reason to prepare anyone, because the past will stay there. I'm shocked every time it doesn't turn out that way.

I've always had extraordinary taste in friends, and have been blessed to share my life with some amazing people over the years. But we all come to any relationship with all we've been up to that point. Some of us are tainted with the stain of a past over which we had no control, but with which we must deal. Even though we don't want to ask it of you - indeed, refuse to ask it of you - you must struggle alongside us if you're going to be in a serious relationship with us. You will have to fight the dragon that can never be slayed with us or you will have to walk.

We understand when you have to go. Really, we do. We know it's too much. We get that. We really, really, really do. We wish we could go with you, but that isn't a viable option for us. We will fight another day, to beat the shadows into submission enough that we can function. We are experts at functioning because we have decades of daily practice. We deftly hide what is happening on the inside. We smile. We accomplish. We achieve. We move ahead. We thank the heavens that we can.

But our intimates know the truth. And the truth can be ugly. We close the doors to the outside world and fall apart - sometimes quietly, but rarely gracefully. We never let the demons beat us down without a fight because we know we can't give any ground. It's far too dangerous to show weakness and leave an opening, a crack, for anything more.

But we completely understand that it can be too much to deal with. You have the freedom to move on and not fight. It is the ultimate self-preservation decision to do so, and we cannot fault anyone for making it. It is the logical thing to do. We understand that.

On this side, we just always hope that at some point, someone will love us enough to leave logic behind. That the mythical concept of the heart being so smitten it overrules the head will happen to us. Deep down we know that's only for people with less demanding souls, but we cling to the fantasy nonetheless. It is a comfort to believe that.

We console ourselves that we are destined to have a series of loves who will be with us as long as they can be, and then must move on because we're too much. We know you feel bad about leaving, but that you must. We know. You don't have to explain. We know.

Being too much - too loud, too bold, too intense - beats back the demons. We have to scare them too. It's a balancing act. But, of course, in the night time, when we are vulnerable, they are waiting for the slightest opening and they pounce. Then the one who shares the dark with us is a victim too.

We do our best. We stay awake. We remain conscious. We avoid sleeping. We stay alert. We ward off the thoughts, we keep them at bay. You marvel we don't sleep more. We know we don't dare. Heaven knows what may happen while we are unconscious. But, eventually, we succumb, and sleep overtakes us.

It's then that we wake in the middle of the night, horrified at what has transpired while we were resting on the other side. Or we wake in the morning, grateful nothing happened over night. You're still there. We didn't do or say something in the night that made you run. This night, this day, this afternoon - we won.

So we start over, facing another day, with a brightness others can't understand. We know just how blessed we are to be meeting the sunshine. We greet each day with a grateful heart that we made it through one more night. We are alive. Our loved ones are accounted for. You are with us. It's bliss. Tenuous, maybe, but bliss.

Unfortunately, we always know the day is coming when you will walk. When the "too much" is truly too much, that you can't take it anymore, that you have to be free. Maybe it will be because just as we think we've got things under control something tumbles out of our mouths we didn't expect. It comes from some place within us that's so deep seated we can't even define it. Even we don't know this place. We ruin things when it's the last thing we want. But, it's too late. There's no going back because it's the final death knell.

We mourn. We move on. Not because we want to, but because we have no choice. We have to keep moving.

What we most want is someone who can stand to be with us at our worst moments. But we know sinking into the blue-black darkness with us is asking far too much of another human. So, we thank you for the time we've had together, and say our goodbyes. And we start over.

I am so grateful for the time we had together, whatever that looked like - maybe we were friends, lovers or something that couldn't be easily defined. Regardless, I appreciate the time our souls traveled together. Until we meet again... Thank you.


lillie said...

Wow, Patsy, that is powerful. It is a blessing that you are the ability to express your deeper thoughts and feelings, if not in person, through your writing. Everyone needs an outlet. I believe you have several, including your art and your writing. I am sure that is helpful in "keeping the demons at bay".

Marie Yates Chaney

lillie said...

I need to do better editing of things I write, as you can tell from the comment. I meant "It is a blessing that you have . . . .", not are!

Marie Yates Chaney

Patsy Terrell said...

Thanks, Lillie for your kind words. I think we communicated on FB about this long ago post but I just noticed the comment here today. :)