There’s a place that I know
It’s not pretty there and few have ever gone
If I show it to you now
Will it make you run away?
Saturday, November 5, 8pm
It’s my first night home from surgery after spending a week with my parents, and I never realized before how empty, how lonely, a home can be. It’s funny…I wanted to go home as soon as possible after the operation, but suddenly here I was again in my childhood home, being cared for, surrounded by the laughter and teasing and love of a family, and I found myself not wanting to leave.
Of course I didn’t.
A home is where your heart is, and my heart has always been with my family.
But here I was in my own home — a home of my own that I adore — and I couldn’t keep from thinking of the place I’d just been, the home I’d just left. The silence began to invade every vulnerability, and though I tried to distract myself, nothing could stop the wave of emotion that threatened to crest. I kept watching the clock, praying for time to move faster so that I could go to sleep, so that I could lie in the comfort of my bed and close my eyes and forget the loneliness that had begun to seep back into an already emotionally weakened soul.
But Time doesn’t work like that, does it? And sometimes the nights can seem that much longer and that much harder.
So I grabbed my purse, clipped the leash on Riley and drove to my parents’ house. I barely said a word as I put my things down on the kitchen table, as Riley greeted my parents’ dog with a playful wag of his tail, as my parents asked in surprise what I was doing back, having gone home only hours before.
“I didn’t want to be alone,” I mumbled as I reached behind the couch to plug in the heating pad I’d been using religiously to ebb the physical pain. I wonder if there will ever be one that can numb the pain of an aching heart.
I could feel my mom’s eyes on me, but I kept my eyes averted, struggling not to cry.
“What’s wrong?” she persisted.
And then I felt the barriers break as my chest heaved in heavy sobs. Having been surrounded by people I love, by people who love me, it had become so hard to return to that silence, that awareness of how physically alone you can be. It’s not something that has taken me by surprise, not something I’m entirely unused to. The loneliness pervades, seems constant, buried for hours, days, weeks, months before it begins to rise to the surface again, seeping into the smallest of cracks in this armor. And suddenly, with little warning, I’m left feeling suffocated by the depths of everything I feel, and, oh, how I feel everything.
Or will you stay
Even if it hurts
Even if I try to push you out
Will you return?
And remind me who I really am
Please remind me who I really am…
Riley. On the drive over, I placed my hand on his head, finding comfort in the texture of his fur, in just his presence, in the simple knowing that he was there, thinking that he was my anchor when I felt very much like I was floating away from everything real.
He’s been my saving grace in ways I’ve scarcely alluded to, for reasons I don’t think I’ll ever be brave enough to put into words. I may have saved him when I adopted him from the shelter, but he saves me every day. Every single day…on days when I’m aware of just how lost I feel and days when, for awhile, I have the relief of forgetting.
Because he loves me, unconditionally, and in him, I can unabashedly place all the love I hold in my heart — a love that runs so deep, so full, that it constantly threatens to spill over; a love that I’ve only ever longed to share, and it’s in this creature who knows the depth of love, too, that I can share it without shame, without fear of judgment or rejection.
He needs me, he depends on me, he lets me love him as I want to love everyone. And maybe it’s in that that I need him, too.
Like a diamond
From black dust
It’s hard to know
What can become
If you give up
So don’t give up on me
Please remind me who I really am…
I don’t get it.
I don’t get how I can have so many special people in my life, have so much love and happiness in this life, in my heart, and still feel so incredibly alone.
I don’t get how I can crave independence and then shun it in the next breath.
I don’t understand how I can be so blessed and still feel so fucked up.
I wish I could keep these emotions from persisting, from spilling over from my heart to my life. I wish I could learn to just accept things as they are, to continue to be grateful for all the blessings in my life– for there are so, so many — and to stop longing for something that I’m not even sure will change anything.
I wish I knew how to stop feeling so deeply, so much. I wish I knew how to channel these thoughts and emotions into something else, something that doesn’t leave me feeling so frozen with guilt at having these thoughts and emotions in the first place.
Most of all, I wish I knew how to stop wishing, when wishes don’t seem to be enough.
Everybody’s got a dark side
Do you love me?
Can you love mine?
Nobody’s a picture perfect
But we’re worth it
You know that we’re worth it
Will you love me?
– Kelly Clarkson, “Dark Side” –
When I posted a comment to Facebook/Twitter about how I was blaming this emotional-ism on being a writer, one of my dear friends, Brianne, countered with the following quote from the movie Raise Your Voice:
Terri Fletcher: Have you ever lost anyone?
Mr. Torvald: Yeah.
Terri Fletcher: I just can’t let this go.
Mr. Torvald: Well, you’re an artist and artists feel things differently than regular people. Look at Patsy Cline or Billie Holiday. You can hear it in their voice. Or, Vincent van Gogh. Cut off his ear, but hey, he could paint.
Terri Fletcher: Vincent van Gogh killed himself.
Mr. Torvald: That’s right. That’s a bad example. Hey, I’m a music teacher not a shrink. What do you want? I guess… what I’m trying to say is, artists convey emotion. They make an audience feel what they’re feeling. You know, that’s what it’s all about, right? You just have to find a way to take what’s in here [Points to his head] and put it in here [points to his heart]
It’s such an amazing quote that sums up everything I’ve ever felt…From not being able to let it go to realizing that I feel everything so acutely, so deeply, to shifting all of that from the head to the heart. It’s a quote I can’t stop thinking about, that makes me feel a little bit more accepting of myself.
Simply amazing. Thanks, Brianne!