The Space Between

Moving forward has never been easy for me. It isn’t that I have an aversion to change–at least not admittedly–it is my obsession with the WHY that traps me. All available questions can be answered with truth, but if the WHY doesn’t fit, I am stuck. I’ve always believed that life is lived forwards and understood backwards. It is how far back I must travel to understand that sickens me. If the answer to the WHY exists 2 months ago, a year, 5 years ago–than what is to be said for the moments in between? What is suspended there? Each look, each touch–what thoughts accompanied them?

Most of us do not act on impulse. Actions are a million tiny thoughts created in ourselves over and over and over. At what point those thoughts become actions is painfully difficult to determine. To answer that question we must dig deep. An impossible journey, the answer may be so imbedded in who we are, the lies we tell, that we may never know. Later those actions are repeated over and over until a habit forms. Those habits become the foundation our character lies upon. But it is this process by which we become who we are that entraps me.

When was the first time he thought of her? What was the trigger? An old song, the smell of summer lingering in the air, too many beers? Was it wonderment or perhaps longing? Was it a desire or a need? Perhaps both entangled together? Where was I–seated next to him, telling him about my day–or sharing a comfortable silence with him, while he shared the moment with her? I imagine him physically shaking his head trying to remover her from the life he was supposed to love. From the life that was supposed to be enough. Maybe a few days went by before her shadow crossed his memory again. Maybe a noisy house, childish laughter, and sex with The Wife, locked her out for awhile. But memory is a powerful thing. It is audacious and cares little about right and wrong.

Vows mean nothing when your mind just can’t erase a memory.

So his life goes on, fights happen, silence follows–and in his quiet she emerges again–without notice or invitation.

Eventually her shadows grow darker, more apparent until he imagines he can reach out, he can touch her–feel her again. She can answer all of his questions that swim in regret and fear. So he grows closer…he can smell her now–hear her voice…he remembers what it was like. It was easy, laughable, fun even. He forgets what made him leave. She smells good to him, he longs to taste what tempts his nose.

So he calls and willingly changes his entire life. He doesn’t use his head, he asks no questions of himself. “I don’t know” satisfies him because the truth is incomprehensible. Who would throw his entire life away for one taste? That answer is easy.

He would.

But WHY?

I need details. They may lead to a certain insanity but insanity is better than stupidity. So I ask over and over and over. A thirst I desperately need quenched. What do those moments hanging in the balance say about me? Can it be…it isn’t about me? That the love he carries for me is separate, exists in a different realm than she presides in? If it is true…should this make me feel better?

I think not.

To grasp the truth is a delicate, awkward gesture. It is not tangible, but a moveable–perhaps permeable entity. We each spend countless moments creating our own truth. We build it strongly upon the relationships and people close enough to destroy us. Imagine spending a lifetime resting upon a security that suddenly is destroyed. It must change who you are–alter your truth, change it slightly. So the work begins again. Now we must practice the words of comfort we will tell ourselves over and over again–until we believe them, and that foundation becomes our truth. So what if he lies to himself? Practices the lies instead of the truth over and over until he is convinced, utterly, that it is here where he wants to be. Which truth do I grasp? What he says repeatedly–or what he said that night as his fingers dialed her number while his brain denied the world he had built–the world he thought would be his foundation. And what of his heart? Which truth did his heart long to touch that night? I imagine it slowly starting to race, beating more and more rapidly as the clocked ticked and the phone rang…once…twice…closer still to hearing her voice. I wonder…when was the need quenched? When did his heart start to slow, the beating calmed? Instantly? After hearing her voice? After she said little? After she said too much? When was a sense of normalcy reached? And what happened the moment after? So much truth resides in these moments–the ones we push away, the ones we ignore. We measure who we are by the large ones, a babies first cry, the moment we first said “I love you.” But the damage, the destruction resides in the places we squeeze out of consciousness. The moments we cannot bare–the moments we cannot NOT know.

What happened when he came up for air? The moment AFTER. Like a dirty fantasy fulfilled, did he disgust himself? The moments tick by…I can handle this. Did he ask himself WHY? Did he care? He must have started to practice–saying over and over the feelings he was supposed to feel until he could wear them…until he was feeling them.

But the truth has a presence about it–it wills to be known. And when confronted–he makes another choice–LIES

And the truth sinks deeper.

–ALC 2005

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